DOCTORS, NURSES OF AIDS PATIENTS FEEL THE PAIN, TOO
by Michael P. Martin
Doctors and nurses take an oath to comfort and heal and do no harm. The oath says nothing about placing their own lives at risk, nothing about facing a disease without a cure, nothing about dealing with the certain death of each patient they treat -- a death that, with all their tools and magic medicines, they are powerless to prevent or significantly delay.
The oath says nothing. More than eloquent, however, is the daily reality of the doctors and nurses who treat patients suffering from AIDS.
"When I became a nurse, in 1957, you feared polio, tuberculosis, diseases like that," says Frances Rodkey, a registered nurse at Houston's Methodist Hospital. "There was a certain amount of fear, to be sure. You could get sick, maybe even paralyzed, but you didn't realistically have a good chance of dying from a mistake."
Treating patients with AIDS, Rodkey says, is different.
"Let's face it. The disease is fatal," Rodkey says. "Before the AIDS epidemic, you didn't wear gloves for many routine procedures, like starting an IV, unless the patient had something you knew was both communicable and dangerous. Now you wear gloves for everything, even the most routine procedures, and you wear them for everyone. Just because a person looks healthy doesn't mean he or she doesn't have HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)."
A person can have HIV and not show any symptoms at all, says Dr. Edward Septimus, an infectious disease specialist, and the health care worker needs to be cautious.
"HIV is not highly contagious," Septimus says, "but once gotten, it is emotionally and psychologically devastating, especially for the physician and nurse. They know that 90 percent of HIV infections move to AIDS, and AIDS means you're going to get sick and die."
Other diseases are much more contagious, Septimus says, and pose lethal danger to health care workers.
"Hepatitis B, tuberculosis and chicken pox are all easier to get with an accidental needle stick," Septimus says, "and all can cause serious illness and death." None of them, however, carry the certainty of death of the HIV/AIDS infection, he says. And none carry the emotional baggage.
"As a group we (doctors and nurses) have been pretty lucky so far," says Septimus, who at age 48 has treated more than 1,000 AIDS patients. "Worldwide, less than 100 health care workers have become victims of the disease in the 15 years it has been noted and treated."
Precautions may be taken, but accidents will happen.
"I've been needle-stuck," Rodkey says, "and I've had blood sprayed in my eyes, careful as I've been. Sure, it scared me! Even though both patients tested negative for HIV, I still had tests done at intervals for more than a year, just to make sure I wasn't infected."
The main emotional burden, says Rodkey, is not the fear, but the feeling of sadness and helplessness.
"It affects you, especially if the patients are young," Rodkey says. "They had their whole life ahead of them, but now it's gone. It's not going to be there.
"I get sad, but I get a little angry, too, especially at the ones who have done it to themselves -- the IV drug abusers and such," Rodkey says. "They've done it to themselves, and many have done it to their children. But when you take care of them, you must have the compassion you would for anybody. Maybe even a little more. I guess I just sometimes wonder, 'Why did they do it?'"
Septimus says, "There are times when you lose patients in clusters. When this happens, you get this feeling of impotence. Couple this with the fact that the age group (of AIDS patients) is 20 to 40, and it's even worse.
"You're seeing people in the prime of life dying prematurely. Children are dying before their parents. It's just not natural. At times, it's depressing," he says.
Septimus approaches the treatment of AIDS patients as a doctor/patient team effort, but says that the method is taxing for the physician.
"I feel their pain," he says. "I never say to them, 'I know how you feel.' I don't know how they feel. I do tell them that I feel their pain, but in a different way.
"I guess it would be easier to just treat the disease and its complications, but I believe in treating the whole patient," he says.
When the end gets close, Septimus says, the emotional drain is greatest.
"I take some comfort in trying to help the patient face death," he says. "I try to help him find some peace, to let go. I arrange for counseling and whatever other help he needs."
There's a very fine line, Septimus says, between empathizing with a patient and emotional involvement. "I try to find the line and keep my emotions from interfering with my being a physician."
Rodkey says, "I have a lot of sleepless nights. I know I shouldn't, but I bring a lot of it home.
"I finally have to talk myself out of it, convince myself that I've done all I can."
The only hope of ending the physical and emotional pain, Rodkey says, will come from education. "We must educate the young," she says. "That's where most of it is."
Septimus emphasizes that HIV/AIDS is a tragedy that can affect anyone, regardless of lifestyle or socioeconomic status. "We must treat these patients as human beings, suffering human beings. They should not be stigmatized," he says.
UH FACULTY VOICE THEIR HOPE: CAN INTERIMS HEAL SYSTEM SCARS?
by Bobby Summers
Daily Cougar Staff
Faculty reaction has generally been positive to the appointments of former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby as interim UH System chancellor and UH-Clear Lake President Glenn A. Goerke as interim UH president.
Most faculty members seem to be taking a "wait and see" position as to whether Hobby and Goerke will be able to heal the wounds sustained by the UH System and the four campuses during the last several years of in-fighting and divisiveness.
A sampling of UH faculty members produced the following comments:
Gerhard Paskusz, a professor of electrical engineering and current president of the UH Faculty Senate, said, "It's all for the good. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee discussed the changes. We have no problem with either Hobby or Goerke.
"We have had some discussions with Goerke and we think he is willing to listen."
Bill Cook, professor of mechanical engineering and former president of the UH Faculty Senate, said, "I personally think they are replacing a very good team with another very good team. If the transition works well, the university will not suffer a large impact.
"My fear was that if it was somebody new to the community, the fund-raising aspects would suffer. There are a lot of interpersonal relationships that have to be built. Schilt has been doing that for the past five years and he has done a very good job of it. What Schilt has done is successfully raise more than $300 million. You don't do that overnight. You have to build relationships.
"The other positive thing with Hobby is the interaction with the state Legislature. Hobby also already has credibility and contacts in the city of Houston. If the Coalition stays off everybody's back, he might be able to be successful.
"For example, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee knew Schilt was going to resign, and two days before he resigned they still called for his resignation."
Cook praised out-going UH President James Pickering as a very honest, caring person. "He's a healer. He actually was willing to listen to all the dialogue," Cook said.
Cook said he thinks Goerke is the right person for the job at the moment.
"Goerke is one of the most respected people in the System. He also has credibility throughout the state," Cook said.
Ernst Leiss, professor of computer science and UH Faculty Senate president in 1994, said, "I think this is certainly going to be an improvement for the university. Hobby obviously has a great deal of influence in the state.
"Goerke, apparently from all I've heard from faculty members from Clear Lake, is very much given to open management. When he talked to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, he said that anybody at the Clear Lake campus has access to virtually all aspects of the budget. As a concrete example, he said anybody could find out how much he had spent last year on travel. That would certainly be somewhat of a change here. However, I'm sure it will take him a while to get that kind of openness on this campus because this campus has always been a conglomeration of little fiefdoms."
Leiss added, "Let's not forget that we are going to have several task forces that will evaluate how the System really should function. This should never be forgotten in the process of getting settled into the new order in E.Cullen and over at 1600 Smith St. (UH System offices).
"I am personally very proud that we have achieved a major change at the top without having to go to anything that is outside of the System. We used whatever channels there were within the System. When you look at other universities where there was a major change like the one we've had here, you will see all kinds of public demonstrations, nastiness and people not talking to each other anymore -- I mean things that really got personal and ugly. I don't think we had any of that in this change. I think it says something about this university that is very positive. We had a little mud-slinging. But, I think that in all the to-do over what has happened, the one thing that has really been appreciated is the fact that we really didn't have to sling that much mud. Everybody can still talk to each other. This shows that the System ultimately does work. You have to make it work for you, but it does work."
John Bernard, an Honors College professor and also a past president of the UH Faculty Senate, said, "I am very concerned with what is happening at the university.
"Like most people, I do expect that Hobby will do the university some good because he has political roots in Texas and he has been a long-time supporter of higher education.
"I don't know Goerke that well. I hear from other people that he is very straight with people and is a good manager. This is an interim appointment. I would certainly agree with the Coalition that if he was appointed as permanent president, that would not be what we would want. But, as interim appointment, he should do just fine.
"I'm not a great admirer of what he did in Clear Lake," Bernard added. "I thought he got a lot of credit for basically just making changes, not for making changes that were necessarily good for the university or the community. But he was shrewd enough to make changes at a time when everybody was ready to applaud anybody who made changes. He got lots of kudos from the Board of Regents. Were they really good changes? In my area, humanities, he did some slashing."
Bernard said he does not see eye to eye with the positions of the Coalition for Excellence, an organization of UH faculty members who have been calling for drastic down-sizing or dismantling of the UH System.
"I agree with the Coalition on some things. I think the question of the organization of the System is a valid one. But I don't think the case has been made that the System is really wasteful, or that they siphon money from us," Bernard said. "Questionable figures have been thrown around on that. I think they probably spend too much money on entertaining and traveling, but anybody does who has the chance to. That's the way it works.
"At one point, I looked at their budgets. And oddly enough, the most waste seems to be in the smallest part of the budget -- traveling and entertaining. Compared to what is spent on the more important things, such as fund-raising and so on, that part of the budget is pretty small. But, I think they could have saved money there. Some of those expenses were rather lavish."
Bernard said he and other faculty members will not be satisfied with a permanent president chosen without a national search.
"I think the majority of the faculty would be very unhappy if there was not a national search," Bernard said. "Last time, at least there was somebody around who the faculty liked -- Pickering. That didn't mean everybody was happy that he was appointed without a search.
"I was president of the senate the year he was appointed as provost. I supported him very strongly with (Marguerite) Barnett because there was another external candidate. We thought she was leaning toward the external candidate. I worked very hard to persuade her that most of the faculty preferred Pickering. But, when they appointed him interim president, and, on top of that, permanent president, I wasn't happy."
Bernard added, "People never got past the point of being scared of Barnett. She was quite persistent and officious. Nobody was ever scared of Jim Pickering. Maybe you have to be a little scary. Maybe you have to make people afraid to go shooting off their mouths.
"Goerke has a reputation for being a little abrasive, but I think he realizes that's not going to work here. His problem will be: How do you deal with a very fractionalized campus? He'll have to decide. Is he going to listen to the Coalition, or is he going to ignore them and listen to other people? How will he identify the voice of the faculty?"
FOOD SERVICE MONOPOLY FEEDS ANGER
by James Aldridge
Daily Cougar Staff
Dissatisfied University of Houston students who take classes or study on campus late at night complain that ARAMark's campus food service is not open late enough, is too expensive and is a monopoly.
However, Robert Peters, general manager of ARAMark on campus, said, "We have operations open somewhere on campus from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the academic year and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the summer."
Peters said the campus is virtually empty at night and the operating costs would be higher than the amount of money gained by late-night patronage.
"We think Horizons (in Moody Towers) is a good place to stay open late," he said. "When it comes down to financial operations, we can't open all places at night. The place turns into an empty lot at night."
If there was a bigger market, Peters said, ARAMark would want to tap it. "In a nutshell, other than 24-hour food service, I don't know what else is needed," he said.
ARAMark (formerly American Restaurant Association), has an exclusive contract with the university to provide food services. ARAMark subcontracts Whataburger, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Blimpie and Little Kim Son.
Second-year law student Andrew Breese said, "There is no need for (ARAMark) to have a say in all food service on campus. Competition brings out the best in everyone.
"Right now, very few food service employees on campus are directly profit-motivated (Kim Son and the coffee kiosks are notable exceptions), so service tends to be complacently half-hearted." While he admits that ARAMark is the only restaurant vendor on campus, Peters said the university chose ARAMark's bid for the contract. He said ARAMark specifies whatever type of contract it wants. He added that having campus dining is a source of revenue for the university.
"The university doesn't pay ARAMark; ARAMark pays the university," he said. "We truly believe we provide good products at a good price."
According to Peters, the company has to lease the building space from the university in exchange for the exclusive use of the dining areas in the UC, Satellite and the residence halls.
Also, part of what ARAMark earns in profits goes to the university, Peters said.
Shivkumar Shankaran, a graduate computer science major, said there should be more choices on campus.
"The ARA(Mark) has the absolute monopoly, and as you will well appreciate, nothing can prosper in a monopoly. That's why we have anti-trust laws," he said. "Sadly enough, that principle does not apply to our campus. It is imperative that the ARA(Mark) be relinquished of its monopoly. How can there be more choices when the ARA(Mark) enjoys the benefit of an exclusive contract?"
Peters said he has heard the argument that if the university brought in smaller operations, the level of services would be better.
But he said smaller operations probably cannot offer the same package benefit to the university.
Peters, a student in the 1970s and a UH graduate, said, "I think there is an advantage to 'umbrella' contracts."
He pointed out that ARAMark handles federal, state and local health regulations for all of its services and provides internal sanitation for its restaurants.
"If you have 23 (separate) restaurants, then the university would have to oversee 23 separate operations," Peters said.
With ARAMark, he said, the university only has to inspect one vendor. "The university knows our standards and can make sure our standards are kept," he said.
As far as the complaint of not having any choices goes, Peters said UH students have many choices. "You've got McDonald's, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Black Eyed Pea. You've got restaurants on every corner. There are a ton of options," he said.
DEVILS AND RED WINGS FACE OFF IN NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS
by Tim Deibel
Daily Cougar Staff
Just because you live in Texas doesn't mean you can't enjoy the world's fastest sport. Hockey is here!
The sport whose popularity has risen like a comet in the past few years finally has a chance to be recognized on the airwaves this summer. Hockey fans have FOX and a Houston Rockets sweep to thank for that. FOX is broadcasting the Stanley Cup Finals on national television for the first time in more than a decade.
All the analysts (myself included) predict a defensive series. The New Jersey Devils play an extremely rough, sometimes even "cheap shot" style of hockey. Although their opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, rely on the speed of their superstars to win games (which they usually do), they have been known to mix it up on the ice as well.
Detroit not only had a better record in the lockout-shortened regular season, but bettered the Devils in both goals scored and fewer goals allowed. Their goal tender, Martin Brodeur, has stopped nearly everything that has tried to whiz by him. In the playoffs, he has a stifling average of just 1.65 goals allowed per game. To put that accomplishment in perspective, this year 2.86 was the league's regular season average. The Devils also boast the playoffs' hottest scorer in Claude Lemieux, who has 12 goals in 14 games in the postseason, including the Game One winner in Detroit.
The biggest asset the Red Wings have is their forwards and centers (starter Sergi Federov and backup Steve Yzerman) who do most of the scoring, and the centers aren't too bad, either. Since the NHL played just half a season, scorers who reached 50 points this year should be considered really on their game. Federov had 50; team captain Yzerman had 38, and reputed hitman and <I>third-stringer<P> Keith Primeau surprised everyone by scoring 42 this year. That's not all: <I>Defenseman<P> Paul Coffey managed to lead the team in scoring with 58 points, just 12 less than the league leaders, Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr and Philadelphia Flyer Eric Lindros.
The Devils play a defensive scheme called the "neutral-zone trap." If you catch any of the Cup this year (games 2, 3 and 5 on ESPN and 4, 6 and 7 on Fox), you'll hear the term tossed around often. New Jersey brings all five players (three forwards and two defensemen) up to play defense in between the blue lines, the center section of the ice. This jams offensive plays and creates turnovers, which the Devils can turn into scoring opportunities. It worked well in game one, a 2-1 New Jersey win.
"WE" DIDN'T WIN BUT HEY, THE ROCKETS DID, SO HOW 'BOUT A PARTY?
by Dominic Corva
Daily Cougar Staff
Okay, okay, enough about the Rockets. Yes, the whole city is bonkers about "Clutch City 2," but let's check reality for a moment. None of the zillions of people who have been living on Richmond for the last week actually played on the court. A few of them may have contributed some noise at a game. How can somebody possibly scream, "We won!" when "we" didn't do a single thing to help the Rockets win?
I mean, the Rockets certainly didn't get where they got by winning at home. No, they had to win on the road against San Antonio and Utah to stay alive. They had the home court dis-advantage as the number six seed, so no one can really say whether they would have been champions by playing in front of "us."
Maybe they were better off without us! Maybe this whole "Clutch City" slogan is a marketing sham swallowed whole by presumptuous fans in desperate need of self-esteem booster shots. After all, even The Daily Cougar (June 12 gray box) has lambasted the eclectic (read: boring) residents of Houston, exhorting them to get off their butts and have a little fun. Really, some of the more exuberant hypocrites need to get a life!
Case in point: before the finals even began, two weeks ago, I was accosted while peeing in the M.D. Anderson Library bathroom by a complete stranger. He walked in and startled me by blurting "Are we gonna do it?" I was badly shaken by the incident, but he managed to relate to me that, no, he really meant, "Are the Rockets going to do it?" To which my natural reaction is: "How the hell should I know? I'm not psychic!" But I mumbled something acceptable, like, "I sure, uh, hope so, man." At least he didn't try to slap my hand, his already being occupied as I was walking, no, running out the door.
Besides, I'm not even from Houston. How can someone just assume that whoever he sees in the city of Houston belongs to the Houston collective (temporary and incoherent as it is)? I'm from Arizona. The Suns already lost. What do I care? (Let's ignore that for the time being; it's my job.)
While I'm on the subject of nonresidency, most of the Rockets had no plans to live in Houston before they were traded here or bribed like simple mercenaries to get the job done. Granted, this year's Houston Rockets had a lot more genuine connections to the city they played for than most championship teams: three former University of Houston Cougars, one of whom actually grew up here. But the rest of them probably wouldn't care if they lived in Pittsburgh (ugh!) as long as the team won the championship. So identifying with the native sons is not an acceptable excuse for using "we."
For those of you who made it this far, your reward is here. I do have something positive to say.
Actually, it's pretty neat to see a city go crazy. This championship has given (dare I say it?) life to even the most disinterested among "us." My friend Loki, a fervent Rockets fan, badly wanted the series to go seven games so we could have an excuse for seven parties instead of four. Marissa reminded him we didn't actually need to have an excuse to throw a party, but I digress.
The fact is, we did have four parties, each one growing in raucous momentum, and at those parties we were of one mind and spirit. Even I grew to root loudly for "our" team as each Rocket shared center stage. There was a great sense of <I>team<P> spirit developing in a community of dedicated individuals. It wasn't that we were part of the winning team; we were part of the winning team's fan support. (As a latecomer to the latter, I include myself loosely.)
I believe Loki had something when he said he wanted the Rockets to lose three times. What he touched on was the foundation of the excitement of being "we." "We" exist as long as we have something to pull together for -- isn't that what a team does? "We" becomes I and you and him and her when there is no common interest anymore. A sports team separates in the off-season, lovers separate when they have different conceptions of their formerly common goal. What passion is inspired by the idea that it would be the greatest thing in the world if something could happen and you are validated by other people who think the same thing! It doesn't matter how this came to be; it's pretty nice to share a passion with someone else.
Of course, that something has to be supported by an awful lot of people if the idea they share is as weak as "Wouldn't it be great if the mercenaries who play half their games in our city beat the mercenaries who play half their games in their city?"
In the end, though, I must confess that I, too, crashed Richmond in the back of my friend Jason Tillman's truck with about 20 other people. I did not, however, ever utter any words that might be misconstrued as taking credit for the Rockets victory. No, I just grinned and slapped hands with wasted guys, pretty girls, Christians, atheists, people who were stoned, people who were drunk, people who were sober and assorted combinations thereof. I was a mix of three of the above, and that's all I'll tell.
After three or four hours, hungry and tired, I stood behind the cab of the truck with Tillman and Junior, letting the humid Houston air tangle my hair in knots as someone (I don't remember who) drove that truck down Highway 59 to Lew's.
It was pretty sweet, what "we" did.
WEBBER'S <I>JOSEPH<P> AMAZING
by Joey Guerra
Daily Cougar Staff
Andrew Lloyd Webber's <I>Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat<P> ended its run as part of the Nations Bank Houston Broadway Series Saturday night. For those of you who missed it, the show was truly a technicolor marvel.
The musical, starring Sam Harris, is a re-telling of the Biblical story of Joseph and his 11 brothers at the time of the Pharaoh. It recounts Joseph's sale into slavery by his brothers, who are jealous of their sibling and his "coat of many colors," given to him by his father. Joseph turns his tragedy into triumph and teaches his brothers a lesson, while holding on to his dreams.
The musical blended popular song styles to create a unique sound and flavor. The dance numbers were performed to perfection, and the show maintained a deliriously high energy level. Everyone seemed to be having a great time on stage, and the feeling radiated into the audience, who couldn't help but clap and cheer along.
Also a highlight was Kristine Fraelich as the Narrator. Her crisp, clear voice carried beautifully and complimented the voice of Harris, who worked the audience up into a sense of sheer delight. He had some competition, though, from the Pharaoh, who was some sort of ancient Elvis. His pelvic thrusts made all the ladies swoon.
Set design by Mark Thompson was fantastic, with touches of Las Vegas sizzle and Hollywood glamour. Neon lights, Egyptian showgirls and even a children's choir added to the enthusiasm, which ended with a rousing "Joseph Megamix," performed by the entire crew.
Reserve early for the next Nations Bank Houston Broadway Series production, because this <I>Amazing<P> show is already history.
GAY-THEMED PLAY, <I>SOUL SURVIVOR<P>, DEAD ON ARRIVAL
Photo by Joe Watts/The Group Theatre Workshop
Hunter Dutton (left) and Paul Nicely star in The Group Theatre Workshop's production of <I>Soul Survivor<P>.
by Joey Guerra
Daily Cougar Staff
Moving on after the death of a loved one can be a difficult task. Feelings and memories remain even though the person is gone. This is especially relevant in the gay community, where couples are sometimes separated by the AIDS virus. The experience is even more trying when the deceased decide to come back for a visit!
This spiritual encounter is just part of <I>Soul Survivor<P>, the latest production from The Group (Theatre Workshop). Directed by Joe Watts, the play strives for romance, mystery, laughs and sentiment all at the same time. But thanks to a mediocre script, stiff actors and poor direction, <I>Soul Survivor<P> doesn't have a ghost of a chance.
Billed as a "heavenly, romantic comedy for the '90s," the play begins in present-day Houston, at Jerry's (Paul Nicely) apartment. He is nervously awaiting the arrival of Mark (Hunter Dutton), whom he has recently been dating. This is their first night together at Jerry's apartment, and everything must be perfect. Mark arrives, the two go through totally unrealistic dialogue, and the climax (literally) occurs: a "hot" leather love scene.
Was this the whole point of sitting and watching two impossibly stiff actors chortle out lame lines and forced references to popular gay hangouts in Houston? What a letdown! The love scene is entirely too long and little or no character development occurs during that first act. All we know about these guys is Jerry lost his lover to AIDS and Mark likes the smell of leather. Anthony Bruno's script seems devoid of any actual human qualities.
After a brief intermission, during which the <I>Casper<P> theme song was played (how appropriate), the second act gets underway with the ghost of Brian (Colin T. McLetchie) arriving to scold Jerry for moving on with his life. Brian is a total jerk, and I can't imagine anyone being in love with him. Granted, Jerry does seem happy, but don't you think Brian would be happy for him as well? Too many things in this play just don't add up.
After the dead jokes and the floating cigarette (don't ask; it doesn't work), Brian finally decides that Jerry's happiness is what matters, and he decides to return to the heavens. McLetchie isn't bad; in fact, he's probably the best of the bunch, but that's really not saying much. His character screams "angel with an attitude" and swerves close to becoming a caricature.
Nicely and Dutton both seem uncomfortable in their roles. Nicely struggles with a Bronx accent, and Dutton's character is a total dork. The two have zero chemistry together, illustrated primarily during the love scene, which quickly becomes repetitive and tedious.
The play's failure cannot be blamed on the actors alone. Bruno's script is simplistic, and the direction by Watts seems rushed. Even though this was the opening night, a good performance is not too much to ask for. The cast and crew can be praised for their efforts, but the product is far from perfect.
<I>Soul Survivor<P> runs through July 1 at Curtains Theater on 3722 Washington. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with official performances for Houston Gay and Lesbian Pride Week on June 23 at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. If you must see something gay-themed, check out <I>Priscilla<P>, on video or at the River Oaks 3 midnight show. You'll definitely be more entertained.