Today I'll respond to some of the questions and comments you've submitted during the last few weeks.
Just a reminder, I receive a lot of questions, about 20 to 25 per week. Although I read every one of them, I am unable to answer all of them in this format. I try to answer the ones I think will have the broadest appeal; the rest I send to senior administrators and ask them to review for possible action.
I enjoy reading all of your comments. They give me insight into what you are concerned about, what we need to work on, and occasionally, what pleased you.
On to the questions.
Q: My classmates and I are pretty upset that the Wiser cafeteria is closing soon. It serves as a less chaotic environment to get hot food quickly and reasonably priced. It accommodates a large crowd daily, and its closure will make an already crowded main cafeteria even more crowded. Are there plans to appropriately replace it in place?
A: There have been a lot of rumors about the Bistro in Wiser Hospital closing and several of you have expressed concerns about that possibility to me through VC Notes. As we have looked at space to expand clinical services on campus, we have considered reconfiguring the ground floor of Wiser, a plan that would displace the Bistro. However, those plans are currently not under consideration. And even if we one day do need to close the Bistro to gain additional space that provides convenient access for our patients, it's very likely we would develop an alternative food venue in the Batson/Wiser area. So please continue to enjoy the good food and atmosphere of the Bistro.
Q: Why do they send out an email informing staff that other staff are getting a market increase? It only makes people upset that again, no pay increase.
A: That's a fair question that has come from several quarters in response to the Dec. 9 Campus Memo announcing market adjustments for many of our bedside clinical employees. The decision to communicate this to everyone was driven primarily by our desire to be as transparent as possible. Because the adjustment affected more than 2,100 employees, it was inevitable that this news - or more likely, some distorted version of it - would leak out as a rumor to the rest of our workforce. We felt that even though others who didn't participate in the adjustment might be understandably disappointed, it would be best if our staff heard about this directly from me instead of a “grapevine” version that might not be completely accurate.
Q: Does the hospital have a place for employee nursing mothers to express their milk? How would that be set up for the employee if an area was not already designated for such purposes?
A: I forwarded your question to Alice Chaney Herndon, nurse manager with Lactation Services. Her response: The hospital has two designated areas for breastfeeding mothers. One pumping room is located in Wiser Hospital W-141 and has three hospital-grade electric pumps. The other location is H-624, the old 6 West, which has four pumps. (Contact Lactation Services at 5-7461 for the access code.) Both rooms are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for employees and visitors. Additionally, there is a pumping room at UMMC's Family Medicine Clinic on Lakeland Drive. If an employee returns to work and needs a breast milk kit, UMMC will provide the kit to the pumping mother for no charge so she can express milk for her baby while at work. Breast pump kits are provided upon availability to all breastfeeding mothers returning to work or visiting. UMMC's lactation nurses can be reached at 5-7461 for further information.
Q: Recently, those of us coming from the stadium lots couldn't help but notice an increased presence of security. Will UMMC be implementing some type of campus alert system like Ole Miss uses to alert everyone to dangerous situations?
A: The Medical Center has an alert system - ALERT U - that is similar to those you describe at other campuses. Our Center for Emergency Services staff, working with Campus Police, has the ability to send every employee and student a text message, email or phone message within seconds of a confirmed report of an active shooter, a tornado bearing down on campus or some other dangerous event. The catch is that to be reached in the most efficient manner, your cell phone number must be listed in the online employee directory or student directory. Does that mean your cell phone will be published for all to see? No. There is a special data field for the exclusive use of the ALERT U system. To list your cell phone, employees can enter their name in the campus directory search box on the Intranet and select the option to update their personal information. Students who have not entered their cell phone can go to the My U student web portal. We have other methods to communicate with you in an emergency, including overhead public address announcements and website tools. But the most direct route will be via your cell phone, so I encourage you to list your number if you haven't already.
Q: Why can't a crosswalk be painted across the frontage road to the VA (parallel to Peachtree)? A lot of us who live in Belhaven like to walk to work. A crosswalk would make us safer on campus and cars would at least be aware that there may be pedestrians crossing.
A: The south entrance to campus from Woodrow Wilson Avenue is poorly designed and can pose dangers for drivers and pedestrians alike. Thankfully, a major project to improve that interchange and make it safer for people crossing Woodrow Wilson will be undertaken in the next few months. A right-turn lane will be added for westbound vehicles entering campus, and a traffic signal and pedestrian crossing will span Woodrow Wilson. The planning process for that project, which will include a traffic and pedestrian flow study, will evaluate placement of crosswalks on South University Drive. On the same schedule as that project, a second project will be planned and implemented to enhance pedestrian safety on North State Street, including a pedestrian signal and crosswalk at Lower Stadium Drive in the vicinity of Garage B. Again, if all goes as scheduled, the work will be completed this summer. These projects will greatly enhance the safety of our employees and students as they go to and from work.
Thank you again for submitting your questions and comments. Please keep them coming! Sharing information builds understanding in support of our goal of A Healthier Mississippi.