News, Events & Media Home
The Public Affairs Office serves as the initial contact for reporters, producers, and other media representatives seeking information about the DeBakey VA Medical Center or wishing to interview faculty/staff experts. This office functions as the Houston VA's news bureau, serving as the primary source of information about the institution, patient care, staff and staff collaboration, awards, reviews, accreditations, medical and research advances, environmental safety, and technological advances.
The following guidelines can assist you in arranging interviews, video sessions, or photo opportunities with MEDVAMC newsmakers:
- Media Interviews - Contact the Public Affairs Office if you wish to interview a VA official or subject matter expert for a story. Patients, in particular, must agree to be interviewed/photographed and must sign a consent form. We will respond as quickly as we can. Advance notice of on-site interviews is necessary so staff can arrange locations for media interviews or photo shoots and line up appropriate sources for your story.
- Patient Privacy - We strictly adhere to federal guidelines regarding patient privacy as outlined by the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). To protect our patients' privacy, we require all reporters and photographers visiting our facilities to be escorted by a Public Affairs staff member. We also want to make sure you get the information you are looking for and to coordinate shoot locations and ensure interviews go smoothly. Media access may be limited or denied to any area of a facility at the discretion of the medical center director, the patient's healthcare team or individual physicians.
- Students - If you are a student working on a research paper and looking to interview a veteran about his military experience, we encourage you to contact a Veterans Service Organization for assistance. You can find a comprehensive list at http://www1.va.gov/VSO/. Local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts can be found at http://www.vfw.org/oms/findpost.aspx * and American Legion posts at http://www.legion.org/posts *.
- Patient Condition Reports - We are responsible for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of our patients and patient information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) governs privacy standards for healthcare information. If a patient has agreed to be listed in our hospital directory, we can provide a one-word condition after the patientâ€™s correct first and last name, including exact spelling, are provided. If a patient has opted out of our directory or chooses not to have a condition released, staff will not be able to provide a condition update or even acknowledge the individual is a patient. Our response will be "I have no information available for a person by that name."
- Patient Condition Descriptions:
Undetermined - Patient awaiting physician and/or assessment.
Good - Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
Fair - Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
Serious - Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
Critical - Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
Deceased - Death status can only be confirmed only after next-of-kin has been notified. Official information on cause of death or additional information will be referred to the county medical examiner's office. Patients have the right to restrict certain disclosures at any time. If they do, we can no longer provide additional updates.
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