Good morning and Happy April Fool's Day! To all of you who will be the target of pranksters today, consider yourselves warned!
Today I wanted to give you an update on the major construction activities going on at the Medical Center.
It was just about a year ago that I last talked about our three major projects - the new School of Medicine, the Translational Research Center and Parking Garage C. The campus was a mess and we were having to get adjusted to several road closures.
Today, parts of the campus are still a mess, but I think most of us have gotten accustomed to the chaos. And we now have tangible evidence of progress that I hope gives all of us the sense that good things are just around the corner.
School of Medicine: On Monday we hosted a “topping-out” ceremony for the new home of the medical school. As explained to me, the topping-out occurs when the last steel beam is hoisted and put in place at the top of the structure. This is a milestone, because it means we're just about a year away from completion of the project and all the good things it will bring - a better learning environment for our students, more physicians for Mississippi and significant economic impact. We were pleased to have Gov. Phil Bryant on hand to celebrate with the construction workers, the architects and medical students. I can honestly say that without the Governor's leadership and commitment, and the support he and our legislative leaders provided for the project, this magnificent new building would still be a dream. You can see a video of the topping-out event by clicking here.
Translational Research Center: This project, which will greatly enhance our research space and capabilities, is also on schedule with a completion set for the summer of 2017. Among other uses, the TRC will house The MIND Center and incubator space for private sector partners. It answers the increasingly pressing need to apply - or translate - our basic science research to clinical care. A topping out event for the TRC is scheduled for May 2.
Parking Garage C and East University Drive: It felt like forever for the new parking structure to come out of the ground, but once it did, wow, it seems like a new floor is added every week or two. The new garage, with 914 spaces, will be completed this summer, relieving pressure on our other garages and stadium parking. Improvements to East University Drive - which has essentially been rebuilt - are nearing completion. The road will also reopen this summer, restoring traffic circulation to all parts of campus.
Alumni Drive: Last month we began a project to straighten and improve Alumni Drive. The placement of the new medical school, which required that Central University Drive no longer be a through street, added to the importance of Alumni Drive in its capacity as the north campus loop. Alumni Drive will remain open, though occasionally subject to traffic delays, through the completion of the project this fall.
These are the major projects that most of us encounter every day, but there are dozens of other, smaller projects that are underway, nearing completion, or in the planning stages. For that reason I want to give a shout out to our Planning, Construction and Design team for keeping all these projects on time and on budget.
Of course, even as we get into the “short rows” on some of these major projects, others will follow right behind them. That makes for temporary inconvenience, but it's a good and healthy thing for a growing organization like UMMC.
As I close, I want to also to take a moment to acknowledge the physicians on our faculty and staff, in recognition of Doctor's Day March 30. We are so blessed to have caring, committed physicians at UMMC, and that includes our residents and fellows. They put our patients first and serve as role models for our learners and all the rest of us. We don't say it enough, perhaps because it's so obvious, but we wouldn't be here without you.
Indeed, every member of the team is important and has a vital role to play, on our journey to A Healthier Mississippi.