‘Pit Crew Chief’ Gets UTHSCSA Emergency Medicine Up and Running

by Robert Moseley


“We’re like a pit crew at a NASCAR race.”

That was the simile Dr. Bruce Adams used to describe what happens when a patient has a crisis in an emergency room. Doctors and nurses come running from all directions and need a lot of space around the patient’s bed so each has access.

“The doctors need physical space,” he elaborated. “It’s choreographed chaos. It’s very time-dependent. We don’t always know what we’re dealing with. We have to diagnose and treat on the fly.”

Thanks to University Hospital’s newly constructed emergency facilities with the latest diagnostic equipment, Dr. Adams and his colleagues can more quickly determine the cause of the crisis through patient history and real-time X-rays and EKG’s. The sophistication of the ER and its “pit crew” saves lives.

Standing to the side during Adams’ explanation of ER procedures and facilities, Dr. Robert Mora nodded his head and smiled in agreement. “Pit crew,” he said. “I’ve never thought about it that way, but that’s right.”

It might also be a good analogy for the way the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio addressed something of a crisis in its Emergency Medicine program, beginning five years ago. At that time, Adams said, “San Antonio was the last big city and we were the last big medical school in the country without an emergency medicine department.”

Leaders decided to take action, and they secured financial commitments from UTHSCSA and University Health Systems, along with an $831,000 grant from Methodist Healthcare Ministries, to make it happen.

But first they needed a pit crew chief.

They didn’t have far to look, for Dr. Adams had a distinguished medical career in the Army, which brought him to San Antonio and Ft. Sam Houston as chief of emergency medicine for parts of two tours (2002-04 and 2005-07).

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