From medical milestones to historic breakthroughs, UMMC’s top stories have appeared in CV
By Bruce Coleman
In its final issue dated Dec. 15, 2008, “This Week,” the former flagship publication of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, alluded to an as-yet-unnamed successor periodical that promised to greet readers in the coming year with “a new name, a new design, color photographs and some new content.”
Boy was that description prophetic.
University of Mississippi Medical Center faculty, staff and students who had grown accustomed to “This Week’s” two-color tabloid format for 13 years may have been a bit nonplussed when they gazed at the first eight-page, full-color, magazine-style “CenterView” on Jan. 5, 2009. Made possible by the Department of Printing’s state-of-the-art Indigo Press 500, it didn’t take long for the vibrantly illustrated, twice-monthly publication to solidify its place as one of the primary communication vehicles for the Medical Center.
With this Aug. 19, 2013 edition, “CenterView” celebrates its 100th issue, a significant achievement for any print publication in the 21st Century. To recognize this accomplishment, here is a look back at some of the stories that helped establish “CenterView” as one of the leading feature publications on a health sciences campus in the country.
“CenterView’s” first issue featured Dr. John Bower, professor emeritus of nephrology and founder of the Bower Foundation, and his daughter, Anne Travis, CEO of the Bower Foundation.
The cover story highlighted the foundation’s initial $1 million gift to the Medical Center to create the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, an “attempt to enhance health professional education by stressing communication, ethical standards and strengthening the relationship with patients,” according to Bower.
Dr. Ralph Didlake serves as director of the center, which has been featured in the pages of “CenterView” several times. Along with in-depth coverage of its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) efforts, the center was highlighted in the April 1, 2013 issue for its participation in a role-playing poverty simulation exercise that helps future health-care professionals better understand the complexities of living with deficient resources.
AirCare, the Medical Center’s helicopter emergency flight program, completed its 10,000th successful flight on April 24, 2009 – a milestone of which Dan Turner, flight nurse, and Stacy Gill, flight paramedic, weren’t even aware at the time.
Turner and Gill were too busy transporting to UMMC a middle-aged woman from Winona who had suffered a heart attack, one of more than 10,000 patient transports and 1.2 million miles logged during the fantastic flight streak.
Donna Norris, chief flight nurse, congratulated the AirCare team on the accomplishment, but said “while the number is great, it means nothing. The only number that counts is the current flight under way.”
Turner’s recovery from a devastating motorcycle accident was the subject of a cover story in the May 13, 2013 issue of “CenterView.”
When Dr. Dan Jones, vice chancellor for health affairs, was appointed the 16th chancellor of the University of Mississippi by the Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, he became the first Medical Center leader to take the reins of UMMC’s parent institution in Oxford.
A national authority on hypertension and a past president of the American Heart Association, Jones succeeded Robert Khayat as chancellor on July 1, 2009.
“What we’re doing here is critically important and brings immense fulfillment in my life,” Jones said. “The idea that I could still have a leadership role at the Medical Center made my decision to seek this post much easier.
“The Medical Center has had an office for the chancellor for the last two decades. I’m sure I’ll use that office more than any other chancellor before me.”
“CenterView’s” memorable cereal box cover, which illustrated a story on the School of Medicine’s expanding class size, demonstrated a playful graphical element that has become a trademark of the publication.
The two apparent finalists for Jones’ vacated vice chancellor for health affairs position – Dr. Robert Robbins, chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Dr. Scott Stringer, chair of UMMC’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences – had the opportunity to share their respective platforms during town hall meetings covered in “CenterView.”
Robbins stressed a team approach to “learning, discovery of knowledge and clinical practice as ways of meeting the future needs in health care,” while Stringer voiced a passion “for the mission of the Medical Center and its responsibility to the citizens of this state.”
The outcome of the vice chancellor selection process would be a surprise to almost every “CenterView” reader.
Much like fictional character Jack Torrence, who unexpectedly burst upon the screen in Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Shining,” Dr. James Keeton appeared on the cover of the subsequent issue of “CenterView” as Jones’ successor and new vice chancellor for health affairs at UMMC.
Appointed on Feb. 9, 2010 – just one week before his 70th birthday – Keeton, who first came to UMMC as a medical student in 1961, had served as chief of staff under Jones and interim vice chancellor after he had moved to Oxford.
Jones said the decision to appoint Keeton was made after the two finalists in the national search – Robbins and Stringer – had each withdrawn their names from consideration.
“The instability of the economy and health care was a major factor in our decision to move forward,” Jones said.
In what would become the most requested and reprinted issue in “CenterView” history, the Medical Center’s master facilities plan was unveiled in the spring of 2010. Now more than three years old, the majority of the plan that promised to shape the Medical Center’s future is largely evident on UMMC’s campus today.
In-depth coverage of the Medical Center’s Commencement has become an annual staple of “CenterView.”
The headline in this issue was an obvious tip of the mortar board to the many sacrifices parents and family members of UMMC students have made to help their loved ones realize their academic goals.
Bearing a striking cover photo of a darkened Medical Center illuminated by streetlights, the cover story delved into the experience of UMMC employees who serve the institution during unconventional hours.
Jan. 16, 2012-Dec. 10, 2012: Common Reading Projects
“CenterView” rung 2012 in and out with a pair of “bookend” cover stories that proved that the Medical Center family that reads together, learns together.
The first issue of the year
highlighted the debut of the Common Reading Project, a panel discussion of a thought-provoking book that focuses on interesting challenges in health care that involve all members of the UMMC community.
That first discussion centered on the bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the chronicle of a poor African-American woman who died of cancer in 1951, but whose cells became the first human culture to sustainably reproduce. Researchers used those cells to help unlock scientific secrets that eventually shaped the modern world.
“CenterView’s” final issue of 2012
also spotlighted a Common Reading Project topic, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors and the Collision of Two Cultures.” The book poignantly illustrated how the inability of health-care professionals to understand and appropriately respond to a radically contrasting culture had dire consequences on the quality of care for a Laotian immigrant child.
Dr. Jasmine Taylor, associate vice chancellor for multicultural affairs, credited the Common Reading Project for helping to improve communication at the Medical Center.
“This diversity dialogue session is an opportunity for the institution to come together and talk about how we think about our patients holistically,” she said, “not just as a disease process, but as individuals with a history, a culture, a social circumstance – things which I think we must keep in mind when delivering top-quality health care.”
Dr. Hannah Gay, associate professor of pediatrics, found herself in the middle of a media firestorm in early March when she and her collaborators announced their findings that a Mississippi-born HIV-infected infant had been found to be functionally cured of the disease.
Gay, who had taken charge of the baby’s care a mere 30 hours after it was born in 2010, immediately prescribed a three-drug antiretroviral therapy, rather than the usual one- or two-drug antiretroviral combination at protective doses for six weeks.
The earlier intervention paid off: after 18 months of the three-drug therapy – followed by five months when the child was not available for follow-up care – the standard clinical indicator of HIV infection came back negative. Further lab tests confirmed the results: the world’s first case of a functional cure of an HIV infection in an infant took place right here in Mississippi.
It may have been the most bizarre story every covered in “CenterView,” but it certainly was no April Fool’s joke: a crew working on an extensive road construction project on the northeast section of the Medical Center campus discovered dozens of unmarked graves containing former patients of the State Insane Asylum.
With no surviving burial records for the five dozen wooden coffins that had been uncovered, it became impossible to accurately identify the remains. So Medical Center leadership, in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Mississippi State University, set about to document, rebury and honor the dead.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Jim Woodrick, director of the Historic Preservation Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “This doesn’t stop progress, but we are also able to accommodate those who died. We learn things about our past.”
“CenterView” revisited one of the capstone achievements of the Medical Center’s rich history with a CenterPiece article dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Dr. James D. Hardy’s first successful lung transplant.
The recipient of the new lung, 58-year-old John Russell, survived for 19 days after the 1963 transplant before complications from unrelated kidney disease claimed his life.
As groundbreaking as Hardy’s achievement was to the field of medicine, it was all but overshadowed by another event taking place simultaneously at the Medical Center. With approximately one hour left in the transplant procedure, noted civil rights leader Medgar Evers was brought to the emergency room suffering from what would be a fatal wound from an assassin’s bullet.
Fall 2013 and Beyond
What articles of interest to the Medical Center community will be covered in future issues of “CenterView?” Only time can tell what notable achievements will grace the pages of the publication’s 200th, 500th or even its 1,000th edition. But if the previous 100 issues are any indication, the Medical Center’s impact on the state’s health will continue to be chronicled in even more interesting and entertaining ways.
What has been your most memorable CenterView story? Chime in on our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ummc1
To view these stories or any other past issues of CenterView, visit the CenterView archives at http://tinyurl.com/CenterView-Archives