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Woodward, in driver’s seat, plans to step on the gas

Woodward, in driver’s seat, plans to step on the gas

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, the Medical Center's newly selected vice chancellor, has taken over from a man old enough to be her father but not too old to be her friend.

After serving for more than five years as the institution's leader, Dr. James Keeton, stepped down March 1 in favor of his second-in-command and the first woman to ever sit in that chair. Keeton will continue to serve the Medical Center in an advisory capacity.

"He has been a wonderful friend and an amazing mentor, and I've learned a lot from him," said Woodward. "Working with him has been tremendously helpful for me."

For his part, Keeton said, "I could not have done my almost six years in this job without our partnership. Because it has been a partnership, and it's been fun."

With the appointment of Woodward, announced Feb. 18 by Dr. Dan Jones, University of Mississippi chancellor, the Carroll County native is poised to make history, if not major changes.

"I don't see any crashing of programs," said Woodward, who will still be able to call on Keeton in his new advisory role.

"I believe we're on the right track with all our missions. But I would like to see this institution put its foot on the gas and accelerate.

"Of course, we'll always need to reassess, but the general direction we're headed in is very good."

Woodward, an emergency medicine physician, has been a part of UMMC's academic administration since 2003 and has served in the vice chancellor's office with Keeton since 2009. Since then, she has been vice dean of the medical school as well.

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Taste milestone marked by miracles, healing

Taste milestone marked by miracles, healing

The Taste of the U, the UMMC Alliance's culinary extravaganza, is scheduled for the 25th - and final - time from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center.

Through the years, Celeste Eason (left, above), executive assistant in the Office of the Vice Chancellor and longtime Alliance member, has attended every Taste event - in all of its incarnations - but one thing never fails to amaze her.

"It is humbling to me to watch how the Medical Center family comes together and how some of these teams spend their own money out of their pockets to have a booth," she said. "I think about what some of those teams did with what they had, how much thought and creativity they put into it over the years, how they have given back to the institution, it's still amazing."

She said it's part of the reason she "fell in love" with the Medical Center in the first place.

"It's been more than a career to me," she said. "It's a place of miracles and healing. How can you not love the guy in the physical plant who plants tulips to give patients something nice to look at, or the former vice chancellor who walks around the medical mall enjoying the food?

"It makes you want to get involved, and for me, that has blossomed into something I'd never imagined. I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the things we've been able to give back to the Medical Center through Taste of the U."

Barbara Kellett (right, above) may not look like a typical adrenaline junkie. But place the director of internal audit at the front door to a Taste of the U event, and danger becomes her middle name.

"People will say to me, 'Let me take over the front table so you can go enjoy Taste,'" Kellett said. "Normally, I refuse. I just feed off the crowd. I regret every year not going around and looking at all the booths and trying all the food, but I just enjoy being at the front of the house."

As Alliance treasurer, she also enjoys seeing first-hand how valuable Taste of the U has become. Late last year, she came face-to-face with one of its beneficiaries.

At a retirement reception for Dr. Ruth Black, former director of pastoral services, Kellett recognized a pediatric patient across the room.

"I'd seen a picture of her before, so I walked up to her, leaned in and said, 'You don't know who I am, but I know who you are. Your name comes across my desk every other week. Your nurse and her team takes you on outings - to Disney on Ice, the fair, shopping. I'm the treasurer of the Alliance, and if there's anywhere you want to go, you just tell your nurse, and we'll pay her to take you there.'

"Her eyes got real big, she looked at her nurse, and then she looked at me and gave me the biggest 'Thank you.' And that's why I belong to the Alliance."

Proceeds from the annual event fund the needs of patients, families and facilities. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and $5 for children younger than 12. Tickets may be bought at the door or in advance at


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Not ready for retirement? Here's how to get on track

Whether they've been working at the University of Mississippi Medical Center for more than two decades or for less than two days, all UMMC employees share one ultimate career goal: retirement.

Foremost in the minds of some and a hazy, far-off concept to others, retirement - like other age-old concessions - is inevitable. A new program being launched by Benefits Administration in the Department of Human Resources intends to help all UMMC employees make the best preparations possible for that eventuality - whenever it may occur.

"Get Ready 'Cause Here It Comes: A Race to Financial Wellness," a series of retirement planning seminars for Medical Center employees at all stages of employment, will bring to bear the collective wisdom of dozens of licensed, registered economic counselors to help everyone at the Medical Center best achieve their monetary goals for "life after UMMC."

According to Jynger Morris, manager of benefits administration, the seminars represent a committed effort to increase the Medical Center's participation in retirement planning services.

"We have a moral obligation to educate our employees about their retirement options," Morris said. "These retirement vendors are not selling or probing; they are really here to serve our employees, to discuss their retirement and financial planning opportunities. And their services are offered free of charge."

She said the idea for the seminars sprang from a request received by Human Resources to do a faculty retirement presentation.

"We thought, why not make this for everyone? It's a huge deal - people need to know where they're headed in retirement. So we sat down and hashed it all out."

What the Benefits Team developed was a marathon-themed series that will address all of UMMC's employees in four targeted "retiree" demographics.

•  The "Warm-up" group consists of those new to the workforce who haven't begun to consider setting retirement goals or investing for the future.

Members of this group are invited to sessions from 2-3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 20; 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26; and 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.

•  The "Get Ready" group is made up of younger employees who may have worked as much as 10 years at UMMC but have not established any retirement goals.

Members of this group are invited to sessions from 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 20; 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25; and 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.

•  The "Get Set" group entails longer-term UMMC employees who may have invested in retirement for a long time, but need to restructure their goals to meet their ultimate goals for retirement.

Members from this group are invited to sessions from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 20; 8:30-9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26; and from 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.

•  The "Go" group includes all Medical Center employees within a couple of years or less of retirement.

Members of this group are invited to sessions from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18; 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19; 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 20; 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26; and 9:45-10:45 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.

By attending one of the scheduled seminars for their respective groups, UMMC employees should have a better grasp of where they are - and what they need to do - in their race to financial wellness, according to Morris.

"This is a program that will help build confidence among our employees that they have a clear road to the future," she said.

Employees can register for the courses in HealthStream. For more information about the financial wellness campaign, visit

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Not ready for retirement? Here's how to get on track

Peds endocrinologist, bioethics expert among new UMMC faculty

Peds endocrinologist, bioethics expert among new UMMC faculty

The Medical Center is proud to announce the following additions to its faculty and leadership staff:

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