January

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UMMC makes strides in 2021 despite pandemic

Published on Monday, January 3, 2022

By: Lindsay McMurtray, lmcmurtray@umc.edu

Despite another pandemic year, the University of Mississippi Medical Center has continued to focus on its missions of health care, research and education. In 2021, UMMC saw groundbreaking achievements in all three areas. 

As in 2020, COVID-19 remained a focus for many of UMMC’s providers and researchers. From caring for COVID-positive pregnant women to staffing COVID-19 labs with robotic assistance, the Medical Center remained on the frontlines of the pandemic. Last summer, the main campus in Jackson became the temporary location of two field hospitals, staffed by medical professionals from Samaritan’s Purse and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Throughout the year, the Medical Center also dedicated time and resources to promoting the COVID-19 vaccine for Mississippians by offering vaccines to patients and community members through free clinics and answering questions about different types of vaccination and how it affects different age groups.

The Medical Center’s health care achievements reached beyond the pandemic, with specialists providing life-changing care, including a living kidney donation change, congenital health defect care for both children and adults and collaborative techniques to rebuild the jaw of a cancer patient. This year, UMMC continued to find ways to offer health care for patients across the state closer to home, from cancer care at UMMC Grenada to a new University Physicians’ clinic at Merit Madison and increased telehealth offerings.

In November, the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi celebrated its first birthday, marking a year of care in the expansion of the state’s only children’s hospital. The Sanderson Tower and the health care provided by pediatric specialists are made possible by support from the community, including a record-breaking $1.45 million gift from Century Club Charities and the Sanderson Farm Championship and $443,928 raised during the annual Mississippi Miracles Radiothon.

In addition to the Medical Center’s health care mission, the research and education missions reached milestones during 2021. With 100 clinical trials, 27 of which focused on COVID-19 research, and $123.5 million in funding from grants, awards and contracts, UMMC’s research arm has stepped up in spite of the pandemic’s limitations.

The Medical Center’s seven schools also grew in 2021, with a total enrollment of 3,056 students and residents, including the largest Accelerated BSN class to date. The past year has shown the dedication and commitment of UMMC’s faculty, staff and students to creating A Healthier Mississippi for years to come.


January

Indianola mother, baby now home after long COVID-19 battle

Treatment for Cessie Stringer's COVID-19-induced respiratory failure by a team of UMMC experts saved not only her life, but that of the child she was carrying. More than a month in intensive care and weeks of recovery at the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants helped Stringer conquer the novel coronavirus.

UMMC's largest Accelerated BSN class answers nursing's call

The largest number of Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing students at the Medical Center will answer the need for more nurses. At UMMC, students began their studies Jan. 11 with online classes and in-person labs. Within a year, they’ll be taking exams to become registered nurses

Century Club Charities breaks record with Children's donation
 
Century Club Charities, host of the state's only PGA TOUR event, broke its own record in philanthropy for a seventh consecutive year with its donation from the 2020 tournament to Friends of Children's Hospital. The gift will go toward Friends' pledge to the Campaign for Children's of Mississippi.

Celebrating a record-breaking $1.45 million donation from the Sanderson Farms Championship to benefit Children's of Mississippi are, from left, Friends of Children's Hospital board chair Melanie Morgan; Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of Pediatrics at UMMC; Steve Jent, Sanderson Farms Championship executive director; Hilary Burroughs, director of marketing for Sanderson Farms; Pat Busby, Century Club Charities president; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine; and Children's of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke.
Celebrating a record-breaking $1.45 million donation from the Sanderson Farms Championship to benefit Children's of Mississippi are, from left, Friends of Children's Hospital board chair Melanie Morgan; Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of Pediatrics at UMMC; Steve Jent, Sanderson Farms Championship executive director; Hilary Burroughs, director of marketing for Sanderson Farms; Pat Busby, Century Club Charities president; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine; and Children's of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke.

February

Black pastors, docs strive to dispel COVID-19 vaccine doubts
Relying on their standing in the African American community, doctors and ministers have united to inject a dose of reality into the hoax-infected discussion surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. They hope, as exemplars and educators, to help members of that community make decisions about the vaccine that are better informed.

Veterans served their country; now, UMMC's SOD serves them

When their medical coverage doesn't include dental treatment, military veterans can go years without seeing a dentist. During Dental Mission Week, students and faculty in the School of Dentistry and other schools at UMMC stepped up to give back to Mississippi's veterans by taking care of their teeth.

UMMC's congenital heart warriors spring from all ages, sizes

Congenital heart disease affects people of all ages, and the age of diagnosis can vary. University Heart and Children’s Heart Center at Children’s of Mississippi faculty and staff work to mend patients’ hearts and keep them healthy. This story chronicles the medical journeys of two patients – an adult and an infant – who are benefiting from UMMC's care.


March

Chain reaction: Living donors speed up transplant process
Hugh Smith was condemned to a dialysis machine 10 hours a night before a complete stranger volunteered to be his living donor. Smith received a kidney years sooner than would have had he not taken part in what's called a kidney chain. Although the kidney Smith received Feb. 18 didn't come from the man who had offered to give him one, the donor chain the volunteer's selfless act created ensured multiple people got a life-saving organ.

Dr. James Wynn, second from left, and Dr. Felicitas Koller, second from right, abdominal transplant surgeons, complete a kidney transplant for Hugh Smith on Feb. 18.
Dr. James Wynn, second from left, and Dr. Felicitas Koller, second from right, abdominal transplant surgeons, complete a kidney transplant for Hugh Smith on Feb. 18.

Second chance at life: Surgeons rebuild cancer patient’s jaw
It truly was a race against the clock: When a team of plastic and oral/maxillofacial specialists at UMMC agreed to remove a large, aggressive tumor from the jaw of a Puerto Rican teen and then rebuild that bone, the surgeons had no time to waste. The fast-growing tumor, already the size of a softball, left the patient unable to open her mouth or eat. Today, she is cancer-free.


April

Dentures crafted by SOD students something to smile about
When a rogue wisdom tooth sent Wilbert McGee to the dentist in 1979, all of his teeth ended up being removed. Forty years later, the sheet rock installer is getting a free set of dentures through the School of Dentistry at UMMC. Fourth-year students are making the dentures and handling the clinical care of special patients in need, learning lessons that will carry into their residencies or private practice.


May

Interns SEARCH-ing for jobs learn new skills at UMMC
The Medical Center is a home site for an international program that teaches intellectually disabled young adults work and life skills that will help them land jobs. Project SEARCH graduates gain life-changing experiences by rotating through a number of Medical Center departments – and some end up working full-time at UMMC.

UMMC Grenada cancer services offer options closer to home
For those undergoing chemotherapy or immunotherapy infusions, traveling hours for care can cause stress and inconvenience. Cancer patients in the Grenada region now have a number of treatment options close to home delivered by a dedicated UMMC team that includes physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and laboratory staff.

UMMC graduates persevere despite pandemic-driven disruptions
The University of Mississippi’s 65th commencement is one for the record books. While the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Health Related Professions, Graduate Studies in the Health Science, and Population Health held virtual graduations in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Class of 2021 was able to gather at the Mississippi Coliseum – but divided into three ceremonies over two days. Each event was marked by a smaller crowd of friends and family than in previous years. Congratulations to this special group of health care professionals!

Students in the School of Dentistry stand at attention, waiting for their turn on the stage at the University of Mississippi Medical Center's 65th annual commencement held May 28 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Students in the School of Dentistry stand at attention, waiting for their turn on the stage at the University of Mississippi Medical Center's 65th annual commencement held May 28 at the Mississippi Coliseum.

June

UMMC scientists are seq-ing variants to fight COVID-19
A team of UMMC scientists is tracking COVID-19 virus variants – including the highly transmissible Delta variant – as they continue to circulate across Mississippi. With funding from state and federal sources, the Medical Center's team is also looking at how variants spread earlier in the pandemic to learn how to prevent future outbreaks.

UMMC accelerates drive for diversity in health care careers

Attracting more minorities and other underrepresented groups to careers in health care has long been a goal at the Medical Center. It is seen as one way to improve access to health care for patients who need it. To that end, organizers of two recent events, and one on the way, reached out to college, high school and middle school students to let them picture their potential futures as doctors, nurses and more.


July

COVID-19 vaccination policy puts patients, families' safety first

UMMC students and employees now have a choice: Either get the COVID-19 vaccine, which has proven safe and effective, or wear an N95 filter mask in any Medical Center location. In drawing up a policy that meets Centers for Disease Control and Mississippi State Health Department parameters, hospital leaders are curbing spread of the highly contagious virus among employees, students and the sickest of the sick, who place their trust in UMMC caregivers.

Experts debunk misinformation about vaccine, pregnancy
The COVID-19 shot affects your fertility, right? Not true. Isn't the COVID-19 vaccine dangerous for pregnant women? Also not true. A Medical Center maternal-fetal specialist and one of the nation’s premier societies for obstetrics and gynecology dispel the myths that keep eligible women from receiving the vaccine that can protect them and their unborn children from the potentially deadly virus.


August

Samaritan’s Purse sets up COVID-19 field hospital at UMMC
The 32-bed Samaritan’s Purse field hospital opening Wednesday joins a 20-bed field hospital staffed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that opened at UMMC Friday. The field hospitals are a resource for the Medical Center and the state’s other hospitals facing a deluge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

From left, Billy Lewis of Colonial Heights Baptist Church helps Mark Randolf of Samaritan's Purse raise the walls of a field hospital Monday at UMMC.
From left, Billy Lewis of Colonial Heights Baptist Church helps Mark Randolf of Samaritan's Purse raise the walls of a field hospital Monday at UMMC.

ED patient crush logjams health system
People from across Mississippi are descending on UMMC’s Adult Emergency Department in desperate need of the higher level of care offered by the state’s sole academic medical center. But when all beds are full and exhausted front-line staff are overwhelmed by the record number of COVID-19 patients coming in the door, its disaster mode.

The Battle of the Surge: Photographic Story of UMMC and the Rise of COVID-19
The skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases and soaring hospitalizations around the state put increased pressure on the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s resources in fighting the effects of the virus’ spread. In classes and clinics, hospital rooms and hallways, here are scenes from the pandemic’s surge over the past week.

Pregnancy and COVID-19: ‘It doesn’t have to be this way’
When pregnant mothers –  especially those who are unvaccinated – contract COVID-19, the risks of severe complications and death rise for themselves and their unborn babies. That’s what happened to Portia Hayes, who nearly died during a long ICU stay. Thanks to her multidisciplinary team and the highest level of care available to her, Hayes not only survived, but persevered.


September

Telehealth connects families, ICU patients in Samaritan’s Purse field hospital
When someone is in the ICU and unable to have visitors, that’s a worry to family members who’d prefer that visitation. For ICU patients in the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital on the Medical Center campus, though, there’s a way to make visits happen. Loved ones can lay eyes on their patients through a telehealth connection offered through UMMC’s Center for Telehealth.

UMMC research breaks funding record
For the second year in a row, UMMC received an all-time high dollar amount for extramural funding: $123.5 million from 392 awards and contracts. The funded projects, spanning from laboratory studies of obesity to COVID-19 prevention in the community, demonstrate the diversity and quality of research happening to make A Healthier Mississippi.


October

Applications to schools amount to a ‘small miracle’
The outbreak of COVID-19 may have brought this country to a standstill, especially in the beginning, but for many future nurses and doctors, their dreams remained alive. Not only did the ravages of the pandemic fail to stop many from applying to the Medical Center’s schools of nursing and medicine, some students say the sight of suffering patients motivated them, more than ever, to stick with it.

Using a medical manikin, Dr. Demondes Haynes, left, discusses some finer points of patient care with, from left, medical students Frances Lancaster and Donaldo Martinez in the School of Medicine Simulation Lab.
Using a medical manikin, Dr. Demondes Haynes, left, discusses some finer points of patient care with, from left, medical students Frances Lancaster and Donaldo Martinez in the School of Medicine Simulation Lab.

UMMC brings medical services to JSU athletes in new partnership
College athletes get injured on the field or court, but also have other medical problems needing attention. A new partnership between UMMC and Jackson State University will bring comprehensive care to about 450 athletes who need attention not just from sports medicine experts, but specialists in many fields – for example, ophthalmology and cardiology.

State’s only nationally certified team collaborates for children’s cleft care
Children with cleft lips and palates can see multiple experts in one visit to Children's of Mississippi. The state's only team approved by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association provides collaborative care including dentistry, speech therapy, plastic and oral-maxillofacial surgery, psychology, genetics, audiology, social work and more.

Diversity, equity, inclusion: It’s part of the culture at UMMC
Across the Medical Center campus, from academic departments to student organizations, a culture of diversity and inclusion is growing. It might be interfaith services at the hospital chapel, a fresh eye to hiring practices, or supporting women and minorities in their quest to excel in research. The efforts of many are being recognized on state and national levels as this important work continues.


November

AACN honors UMMC School of Nursing for school-based clinic partnerships
Clinics in Jackson Public Schools and the South Delta School District increase students’ access to care, improve health and reduce time away from the classroom. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing presented the Exemplary Academic-Practice Partnership Award to the UMMC School of Nursing during the AACN Nursing Leadership Conference.

Sanderson Tower celebrates first birthday
Children’s of Mississippi team members in the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower have been providing care to children in the state for a year. The landmark was celebrated with cupcakes and balloons, and medical leaders are looking toward a brighter future for pediatric care in the state thanks to the expansion and donors who made it possible.

Jessica Carter of Jackson and daughter Lyndsey Lee blow out the birthday candle for the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children's of Mississippi.
Jessica Carter of Jackson and daughter Lyndsey Lee blow out the birthday candle for the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children's of Mississippi.

UMMC Police charts new course with series of “firsts”
UMMC's Police Department is making moves: Chief Mary Paradis has appointed its first-ever deputy chief and public safety director, and her team is working hard to position the department to gain national accreditation – another first.


December

Vaccine, booster still best defenses to both Delta and Omicron variants
As the Omicron variant spreads, Medical Center providers warn that it’s the Delta variant that’s still rampant in the state. The best protection against both? Getting both the COVID-19 immunization plus the booster

‘Leaving our comfort zone’: JFC goes on the road
For years, in its building in west Jackson, the Jackson Free Clinic has served people without medical insurance and those without homes. But, more and more, its student volunteers have packed up their blood pressure cuffs, lancets, COVID vaccines and more, bringing free health care services out to the people and communities that need them most.

Joseph Cook, a Jackson Free Clinic medical student volunteer, asks Wilbert McGee some questions during a December 10 health screening event held in conjunction with Shower Power.
Joseph Cook, a Jackson Free Clinic medical student volunteer, asks Wilbert McGee some questions during a December 10 health screening event held in conjunction with Shower Power.