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Substitute Teacher Hurt in Santa Fe Shootings Calls for More Training, Where to Eat During Houston Restaurant Weeks, And More

What we’re following at Houston Public Media today

Monday, August 6, 2018

Top afternoon stories:

Dr. Alison Haddock, an emergency physician in Houston, believes the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas review change is in violation of the state's prudent layperson law.
Allison Lee
Dr. Alison Haddock, an emergency physician in Houston, believes the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas review change is in violation of the state’s prudent layperson law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas' controversial ER claims process begins

The largest health insurer in Texas changed an ER claims review process Monday.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said its 500,000 HMO members may have to pay the entire cost of an out-of-network emergency room bill, if they go for something not serious or life-threatening.

The insurance carrier said the stricter review policy is designed to help make health care costs more affordable. In an April 18 memo, Blue Cross first explained the change by pointing to examples of people who use out-of-network ERs for things like head lice or sprained ankles.

In our recent News 88.7 In Depth, we reported backlash from physicians in Texas prompted the insurance company to delay rolling out the new change.

In a statement provided to Houston Public Media, the Texas Medical Association said it's disappointed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is moving ahead with the change.

"Unfortunately, even the announcement of this plan has already planted a seed in patients' minds that they'll be left with a big bill if they go to the emergency room for the ‘wrong reason,’" said TMA President Dr. Douglas Curran. "We encourage TDI to join us in monitoring this closely to make sure no patients are denied necessary care."

Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff's Office on the scene of Santa Fe High School, where a shooting occurred in May.
Harris County Sheriff's Office
Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on the scene of Santa Fe High School, where a shooting occurred in May.

Substitute hurt in Santa Fe shootings calls for more training

Substitute teacher Flo Rice was watching over a gym class at Santa Fe High School on May 18 when a fire alarm sounded.

The Galveston County Daily News reports she walked from the gym into a hallway near an art classroom and into a killing zone.

“We were parallel to what was going on,” she said. “The kids were playing basketball when the alarm when off. We never heard a thing.”

Rice was shot in both legs. Her left femur was broken. She managed to get outside the school building, where police were exchanging fire with a gunman who ultimately would kill 10 people and wounded 13 before being apprehended.

Rice has stayed mostly quiet since the shooting, worried that voicing her concerns would be inappropriate while families grieved lost children, mothers or wives.

But Rice last month spoke up. She stood during a Santa Fe school board meeting and called on the district to better train and equip substitute teachers to respond to emergencies.

Houston Matters: The Full Menu: Where To Eat During Houston Restaurant Weeks

Each August is your chance to try all the local eateries you've had on your restaurant bucket list during Houston Restaurant Weeks.

On this edition of The Full Menu, local food writers Gwendolyn Knapp of Houstonia Magazine, David Leftwich of Sugar and Rice Magazine, and Eric Sandler of CultureMap Houston, give us a preview of what different restaurants are doing for this annual event, which benefits the Houston Food Bank.

Click HERE to see the restaurants mentioned in this edition.

Texas Senate school safety committee recommends focusing on mental health, avoids gun control

A special Texas Senate committee devoted to fighting school violence has recommended improving mental health resources for students and increasing funding for a program that arms some members of school staff, but shied away from any measures aiming to limit access to guns.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, formed the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security following the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School south of Houston. Committee members heard testimony during four meetings in June and July on ways to improve school safety infrastructure, address mental health issues among students and consider controversial “red flag” policies that would take guns away from those deemed a risk to others.

Several of the committee’s recommendations focused on “hardening” schools, adding funding for metal detectors and other security apparatuses on campuses. The committee also recommended that the state explore increasing financing for school marshal programs, which allow certified staffers to have access to firearms in schools. During its public hearings, committee members heard testimony that marshal programs can strain school budgets, since they require training and lockboxes for guns. The committee hopes to alleviate that strain with state funds, though it didn’t give specific dollar amounts for any of its recommendations.

Gallery pays tribute to South Texas church shooting victims

Framed obituaries and stuffed animals are part of a museum exhibit to remember the more than two dozen people slain last fall during gunfire at a South Texas church.

The San Antonio Express-News reports the donated tributes line the walls of a section of the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum.

The man who opened fire Nov. 5 at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Devin Kelley, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while being pursued.

The exhibit opened Saturday. Sparkling painted stars hang at the entrance to the gallery, decorated with flowers and suns, plus words of support.

Many of the items came from a makeshift memorial near First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.


Top morning stories:

TABC arrests Atascocita clerk

A store clerk in Atascocita is facing criminal charges after allegedly selling alcohol to the teen driver police say killed two classmates in a deadly crash last month.

Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission agents arrested Gumaro Muñoz Campos on Sunday, multiple media outlets report. Campos is charged with selling alcohol to a minor, which carries up to a year in jail and a fine of up to 4,000 dollars.


Arkema, CEO, and plant manager indicted

Homes in view of the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas.
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune
Homes in view of the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas.

A Harris County grand jury has indicted chemical manufacturer Arkema for the release of toxic chemicals after its plant flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

Harris County prosecutors allege Arkema "recklessly" released toxic chemicals into the air as fires burned within the facility, allegedly making Crosby residents and first responders sick.


Man accused of killing doctor dead after standoff


Joseph James Pappas, 62, the suspect in the fatal shooting of Dr. Mark Hausknecht, killed himself on Friday morning during an encounter with two police officers in southwest Houston.

Pappas died from a single self-inflicted shot to the head, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters a short time after Pappas' death, with his body still at the scene. Pappas was wearing a bulletproof vest during the confrontation and shot himself after a second police unit arrived, Acevedo said.


Records show over half of HISD schools report zero bullying

The data reveal that in the 2017-18 school year, over half of HISD schools had zero bullying reports. That includes about a dozen middle schools where bullying behavior often spikes.

HISD's numbers are far below what national research indicates, that between 22 and 30 percent of students in grades K-12 are involved or experience bullying in some way.


UT taps new chancellor

UT Regents voted James Milliken as the sole finalist to be the next chancellor of the 14-campus system in Texas on Saturday.

Milliken is the former chancellor of the City University of New York, the nation's largest urban university system, and is the former president of the University of Nebraska.

By state law, regents will have to wait 21 days before they can formally appoint Milliken. He will replace William McRaven, who stepped down in May.