Well, here we are again. Another year has come and gone and the University of Mississippi Medical Center just keeps rolling along.
A lot is happening. Not only are we just plain busy taking care of patients, teaching more students than ever, writing grant applications and the like, but we are making progress on many fronts that will position us well for the future.
We are entering a period of construction that will keep us improvising – and, I’m sorry, somewhat inconvenienced – over the next few years. There are too many projects to mention here but the most important on the near horizon is a new medical school. The funding appears to be lining up for that and we’ll hold a ceremonial “unveiling” in early January with Gov. Bryant and other state leaders.
Until they’re completed, these construction activities will complicate our lives, especially in regard to parking. I just ask you to please bear with us as we adapt to these changes. The temporary hassle will all be worth it in the end.
We’ve made several critical hires over the past year. We were fortunate to fill four department chair positions in the School of Medicine with highly capable people who are already providing steady leadership. The search for a chair of the Department of Internal Medicine is under way and we are blessed with a strong field of applicants.
Janet Harris has been remarkable as the interim leader of the adult hospitals during a period in which we’re working hard to find efficiencies. We’re now in the early stages of a search for a permanent CEO. Janet has graciously offered to serve until that person is identified, and then she will return to her “day job” as chief nursing executive officer. Thank you, Janet.
This year we welcomed Dr. Gary Reeves as the permanent dean of the School of Dentistry. And we’re in the beginning stages of a search for a permanent dean of the School of Health Related Professions, as well as a search for a new chief information officer.
We’ve had a banner year in education. Going all the way back to our SACS accreditation, and continuing through the medical school’s recent near-perfect accreditation by the LCME, our education folks have hit one home run after another. Congratulations to all those who made it happen.
Our efforts in research continue to gain momentum, particularly in strategic centers of excellence such as the Cancer Institute, the MIND Center and the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research. In October we enjoyed a special treat with the visit of the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins -- only the second visit of an NIH director to our campus.
In the clinical world, our relationship with the new leadership of the VA is better than at any time that I can recall in my 18 years here. This relationship has enormous potential to benefit both partners and we are committed to realizing that.
I’m also very encouraged with the progress we’re making on our clinical affiliation with HMA. We have signed agreements to support each other in a couple of clinical areas and are working hard on figuring out what an educational affiliation might look like.
As of Tuesday, we have tentatively agreed to operate Grenada Lake Medical Center in Grenada, Miss., pending approval early next year by the board of the Institutes of Higher Learning. Although this was not something we had planned, when the Grenada County supervisors sought proposals to lease their medical center to a third party, we felt it was important that someone with a comprehensive vision for health care in Mississippi be represented. Apparently the supervisors agreed with that vision. More to come about this.
Over the past few months, I’ve been fortunate to be asked to represent our Medical Center on panels discussing national health care reform – one at the National Press Club and one on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. What this signifies to me is that the leaders of our industry and our federal government are interested in our perspective on these matters of national importance. I think we should all be pleased by that.
I’ll end this report on what has become my constant theme over the last few months and what will be my primary focus in 2013 – Quality. Slowly but surely, we are making progress toward my goal of being the unsurpassed leader in the provision of quality health-care services, and that includes not just the technical care but also the patient- and family-focused care that every person who comes to us for help deserves. We have to be organized to accomplish this but in some ways it begins with each of us as individuals, so I need your help. I want to be able to say that 2013 was the year we got this done.
It’s been a very good year. You made it so, not just for UMMC but a whole lot of others, and I am grateful for that. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday and a safe and fulfilling new year.