Today I'll answer some of your questions. You know the drill: I receive lots of questions and comments and I read and appreciate all of them. Since I can only answer a few on the last Friday of each month, I pass the rest on to senior administrators for review and possible action.
Now, on to your questions.
Q: I work at an offsite location in Select Specialty Hospital. I noticed that last year when the flu shot was offered, staff were available not only at the main campus but also at the Jackson Medical Mall. It would be extremely helpful to staff that worked at offsite locations if someone would be allowed to give the flu shot at each offsite location. I know at Select Specialty we have Infusion Services, the Sleep Lab, and several floors of doctor's offices that are UMMC staff. At the Grants Ferry location, there is also an entire building of people that would benefit from having someone come out for a few hours and administer the flu shot. I know it would not only help out the staff at each location, but it would help with the parking congestion on main campus.
A: I'm so glad you asked because I'm ready to start talking about the flu shot! I got mine yesterday before the Fall Faculty Meeting and we are just about to begin our first of four Flu Blitz sessions Oct. 11. In addition, I'm told that each year Student Employee Health provides the flu vaccine to staff in all offsite UMMC clinics who request to administer the vaccine to their own staff. Last flu season, nurses from Grants Ferry, Mirror Lake, the UMMC Biloxi Clinic, and Flowood and Lakeland Family Medicine Clinics were provided the vaccine for employees in their respective clinics. Their employees did not have to come to the main UMMC campus to receive the flu vaccine. Employees of the CAY Center at Select Specialty Hospital also received a total of 26 doses last year for staff who work there. Other units at Select will need to contact Student Employee Health if they wish to administer the flu shot on-site. By the way, we are reserving most of our current supply for the first blitz Oct. 11, and will distribute vaccine and supplies to off-campus locations beginning in mid-October.
Q: UMMC is the state's only academic medical center but there is no university housing for students' accommodation here. There are very limited options of private apartments and most of them are expensive. For overall productivity and performance of students, I think this is important that they find a safe place to live with a reasonable rent. I believe we had on-campus student apartments before, but those are now occupied by different offices. As the number of research/administrative buildings are growing, on-campus housing may not be a realistic idea, but definitely we should think more about student housing within a reasonable distance from campus with shuttle service. I believe having student housing will add value to our university and will positively impact student productivity.
A: You are correct that we provided a dormitory and apartments on campus for many years but as those facilities became dated we struggled with occupancy rates. A number of years ago we explored the possibility of a residential community for students in partnership with other local higher education campuses. The cost of construction and associated rental prices were substantial, however, and in general we found that our students prefer to live off campus in the community. The recent development of close-to-campus rental housing at the Meridian at Fondren and the District of Eastover will increase the supply of apartments in this part of town. Although those units may be at the higher end of the market, we can expect that would create more capacity in the overall market and improve the selection of rental housing, not only for students, but for faculty and staff who wish to live near work. The safety of our students is always a priority and so our campus police have forged a strong working relationship with the Jackson Police Department to provide a secure environment on and immediately adjacent to campus.
Q: I am not in direct patient care but see things that I think could be improved in our hospital. While in the basement of the hospital the other day I saw a patient being transported to Nuclear Medicine on his hospital bed. When going through the door the bed was bumped hard going into the door, repositioned with the help of another medical person walking by and bumped hard once again. I thought, poor patient. I just think more care should be taken in transporting patients to and from areas in our hospital. Also, I have seen loud talking around the patient. When you don't feel well that is the last thing you want, to be rammed into a door or hear loud conversation.
A: I couldn't agree with you more. We have all kinds of limitations with our facilities, as one would expect from a physical plant with major sections that are 60-plus-years old. In parts of the original ground floor that you describe, it can be extremely difficult and expensive to enlarge a doorway, for example, because of construction methods used in the original structure, load-bearing walls and use of adjacent space. In such cases, we just have to take extra care as we navigate these spaces. As I've said many times, think of the patient as if it were your parent or child in the bed or wheelchair. My own father mentioned to me this week that we need more wheelchairs at the front of University Hospital and more wheelchair “drivers." I guarantee you that made an impression on me. We are in the process of updating our Master Facilities Plan, and as we do that a major emphasis will be on enhancing the patient and family experience through changes to our physical environment.
Q: I would like to ask why our Flexible Spending Account administrators only send out one balance sheet per year? In this day, with all the methods of electronic communication, how would we be able to catch someone stealing from the FSA in time to stop it if we only receive one balance sheet per year and we never receive a report that shows what was paid? I think you should ask our administrator to start sending monthly account sheets that show the balance, all expenses for that month and the ending balance. It would be convenient to help keep up with one's account without having to constantly call and speak to someone.
A: I think you're in luck because there is an online solution for you. For those who don't know, a Flexible Spending Account allows participating individuals to pay for certain expenses, such as out-of-pocket medical costs with pre-tax dollars, which results in significant savings. Our HR benefits staff tell me we have 1,637 participants in the program. Administrator SABC (Southern Administrators & Benefit Consultants) sends an Account Balance Statement to each participant before the beginning of the fourth quarter of each year and the following January. In addition to these statements from SABC, participants have the ability to view all details of their elected flexible spending accounts online at any time by accessing the SABC website via Lawson as follows:
1. Log into Lawson
2. Click on Employee Self-Service
3. Click on MyUMC
4. Check the section “Websites of Interest” and click on SABC - Flexible Spending Accounts
This path will direct participants to the SABC website and from there they can access their account information via the Access Portal with appropriate login information for their account. This is a good place to remind you that we are encouraging all of our employees go online by TODAY and indicate whether they plan to keep current benefits the same for next year or to sign up for a telephone open enrollment appointment with a benefits educator. Find the blue 2017 Open Enrollment link in Lawson via Employee Self-Service/MyUMC. Open Enrollment runs from Oct. 3 through Oct. 22.
Q: I wanted to make a comment regarding the recent change to Good for mobile email access. I understand that, for our hospital, security often trumps convenience. However, the transition to Good feels like convenience was not taken into consideration at all. This app, which is currently rated at a 1.5/5 on the app store, is horrific. My phone's battery life has been reduced to about three hours, from about 10. The calendar integration is poor and the document function isn't much better. I know the university doesn't require us to have email on our phones, but as an M4 applying for residencies I need constant access to my email. Again, I understand that security trumps convenience, but DIS has backed the wrong horse on this. I urge you to reconsider this change.
A: Since I wrote about this topic in my Aug. 26 VC Notes, our Division of Information Systems leaders tell me we have now transitioned more than 6,500 devices to the Good Work app. Since the rollout began, DIS has received 600 requests for assistance on various challenges associated with the app. In some cases, battery life included, the problems originally thought to be the Good Work app could be attributed to an update from another app loaded on the mobile device. In other cases, including the document integration function you mention, the application is doing what it was designed to do to ensure security. Information security will continue to be a major theme for the institution in the future, and DIS will continue to work with leading vendors in the industry to enable our user community to work efficiently, but with the assurance that our information is secure. While the Good Work system may not be perfect - and which system is? - it is highly regarded in the industry and has enabled the majority of our employees to continue to check work-related email with limited inconvenience and disruption but with enhanced security. To be clear, I have charged our DIS information security team to identify and implement changes necessary to keep our information secure. There will be other changes on the horizon, many of which will necessarily diverge from past practices. I am hopeful that in this transition we don't blame the messenger, in this case DIS, for operational changes that are long overdue. DIS has fully demonstrated that their staff are ready and willing to help our community with any and all questions or concerns and I encourage you to contact them for assistance if needed.
Thank you again for all your questions and comments. I appreciate knowing what's on your mind. I hope that communicating in this open manner builds trust and understanding, as we keep moving toward A Healthier Mississippi.