It's the last Friday of the month, so today I'll answer some of your questions. I receive many questions and comments and I read and appreciate them all. I can only answer a few in this space, but I pass the rest on to senior administrators for consideration and possible action.
Now, on to your questions. Note that a couple of my answers include hyperlinks to additional information.
Q: Thank you, Dr. Woodward, for the opportunity to provide comments and feedback regarding matters at UMMC. I believe UMMC is a great establishment to work for and place to receive care. However, as an employee here, at times I feel that there are not a lot of opportunities for upward mobility. In certain departments, there is room for "grooming" of potential leadership as opposed to others. As an employee I would like to see more opportunities for leadership. I admire the initiative of Toastmasters [the public speaking group], which is a great start, but I would love to see more.
A: The educational development of our workforce, including the development of future leaders from within UMMC, is a critical success factor for any large organization today. We have several initiatives in place, the cornerstone being our Workforce Development Scholarship, which provides tuition support for members of our workforce who wish to pursue advanced degrees though UMMC educational offerings.
In addition to that, for a decade, Dr. Rob Rockhold in Academic Affairs has led a Leadership Development Program that has introduced a total of 144 faculty and mid-level staff to the finer points of leadership as well as to UMMC's administrative structure and function. And this fall, we will start the third year of our UMMC Leadership Program, another campus-wide initiative open to faculty, managers and staff who have been identified by departmental leaders as emerging talent.
Because there was some overlap between these two leadership programs, a committee is now in the process of reframing Dr. Rockhold's offering to give it a more academic focus. Look for news about that soon. In addition to these offerings, we continue to provide a number of more focused skills development programs that are available to all employees. And some schools have their own internal programs, or provide support for an employee's participation in extracurricular leadership development activities. If you are interested in any of the programs I've mentioned here, I encourage you to talk with your supervisor.
Q: I would like to know if the designated handicapped parking spots in the stadium are being monitored by Campus Police. There was a car that parked in a handicapped spot at one of the shuttle stops as I was walking by, and the young lady (in blue scrubs) got out of her car and walked toward the hospital. I understand that there are some disabilities that are not seen in physical form. However, this young lady passed me walking into the hospital. I have seen this happen on more than one occasion. Are these designated spots being monitored, and if so, what is being done to ensure non-handicapped employees are not parking in them?
A: The answer is yes, the handicapped spots throughout campus are monitored by Campus Police. Monitoring can be a challenge, however, particularly if a violator has parked the vehicle and already left the area. My understanding is that the handicapped designation is issued to a person, not a vehicle. If that handicapped person is not making use of the vehicle, then the vehicle should not be parked in a handicapped space and the driver can and should be ticketed. If you notice someone who you believe to be a regular offender, feel free to report it to one of our officers.
Q: As part of the promotion for wellness within the university, I have concerns that the Courthouse on Lakeland Drive will be closed. My greatest fear is that the facility will be closed due to financial constraints involved in updating the facility. Please do not shut it down. Too many of the university employees use this facility and enjoy the racquetball courts and swimming pool.
A: We have no plans to close the Courthouse on Lakeland Drive. As your comments suggest, this club is popular and has strong membership numbers. It is, however, in need of significant renovation. We will be working on a construction budget this year and will schedule improvements after prioritizing our needs. I can't give you a definite timeline, but as of now we are committed to enhancing the Lakeland location. I'm glad you are committed to staying fit and healthy and are a loyal member of this wellness center.
Q: I've heard a rumor that Alumni Drive is going to become a one way street after construction is completed. Why would this become a one way street and impede traffic flow throughout campus?
A: I've heard this rumor multiple times and I'm not sure where it came from. Construction crews have re-routed Alumni Drive to remove the sharp turn that was difficult for our shuttle buses to negotiate and are making other improvements to the road and parking lots. When the Alumni Drive project is completed this fall, two way traffic will resume.
Q: I have worked at a few different hospital systems in other states and do not understand why a system this large does not offer walk-in clinics. I find this to be very frustrating as I am an employee who utilizes UMMC's insurance and doctors. However, whenever my family or I have a minor medical problem, I may have to wait up to 48 hours to get in with my doctor. I can't be a walk-in at one of the clinics I have not previously been seen at or I am forced to go to our urgent care, which is not a walk-in clinic because the rates are based as an extension of the ER. So this forces me to utilize other local walk-in clinics when I would prefer to stay within the system that has all my records. Why can't we compete with other hospitals who offer walk-in clinics and encourage their employees to come to them with minor illnesses?
A: Have you tried our Quick Care clinic, which meets the needs of many of our staff who require a doctor's care on short notice? I'm told that although there are a few scheduled appointments in Quick Care for follow-up visits or wellness exams, slots are held open each day for call-in appointments. Capacity is limited because we have only one physician provider. An alternative is our Family Medicine clinics, which do offer same-day appointments, and the staff will work you in the same day if you are an established patient. (Other clinics may do this as well but I'm just not aware of their practices.) This may not apply to you, but the staff in Student/Employee Health sees students with minor acute illnesses as walk-in patients, usually on the same day. They also see employees who are injured or have a potentially dangerous exposure at work, but do not see staff for non-occupational illnesses. As I've said before in this column, we are different from other large hospitals in that we accommodate teaching and research missions as well as patient care. That stretches our resources in a lot of different directions and we can't always do all the things that non-academic systems are able to do.
Q: With what seems to be increasing violence in our nation, including yet another college shooting at UCLA last month, does UMMC have a campus-wide emergency plan in place to deal with a lockdown? You've mentioned in past columns that the UMMC police force has been training for these type of situations, but what is being done to prepare regular employees for these type of situations? Is there somewhere employees can learn the emergency procedures that have been put in place? Are there any plans to complete emergency drills in non-hospital/clinic locations? I know in the almost two years I've worked here we have never had an official fire drill or any other emergency drill. Are there plans for any sort of training for day-to-day employees about what to do in various emergency situations (fire, tornado, power outage, campus lockdown, etc.)? It's possible that this training is common in the hospital/clinics, but as a non-clinical employee I feel uninformed and unprepared for what I should do in an emergency situation.
A: The Medical Center does indeed have a comprehensive campus Emergency Operations Plan (may require login). As soon as a dire threat or emergency is known, UMMC will disseminate instructions through the Alert U emergency notification system. Your contact information - most importantly, a cell phone number - needs to be in the Medical Center's database so that you can rapidly receive information through text, email or phone call. (You can add it yourself in the campus directory; it will not be published.) Through posters and other internal communications, the Medical Center has tried to inform employees and students about a range of threats to the campus community. Remember three words if you're alerted to, or spot, someone with a gun and malicious intent: Run, then call 911. Hide if you can't run. Fight as a last resort, and use anything available as a weapon. The Medical Center also observes national standards for overhead emergency codes and non-coded alerts for an active shooter or other threats to life and safety. UMMC police officers are regularly trained on the latest response techniques. Employees can watch a training video (may require login) on active shooter response provided by campus Emergency Management.
Thank you again for all your questions and comments. I hope my answers shed a little light on what we're all about, as we continue to make our way each day toward A Healthier Mississippi.