VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, February 24, 2017

Five Questions

Good afternoon!

Today I'll answer some of the questions that have come in during the last month. Before I do that I want to say a few words about the Financial Action Plan I announced via Campus Memo on Wednesday.

As a brief recap, between now and the end of the fiscal year June 30 we need to identify $24 million in savings to help offset unexpected revenue reductions that at this point total $42 million. This will be a challenge because we only have four months to achieve these savings.  But it's important to keep it in perspective. The fact is that $24 million is less than 2 percent of our budget. The Medicaid reduction, $35 million, remains under appeal and we are hopeful this amount will be reduced. I don't want to minimize our situation but we will manage our way through this and come out a stronger organization on the other side.

I have received a number of comments from you in person and through email and VC Notes. A few of you have expressed anxiety or raised questions about what might be cut, and I understand your concern. The majority have offered encouragement, helpful suggestions, and even the willingness to make personal sacrifices to achieve our savings goal. I appreciate all these comments and the positive energy they demonstrate.

I wish I had more specifics to share today but we are just beginning to work through this process. When we have a completed plan, I will share it with you.  The main thing we can do in the meantime is the very best job we can attending to the needs of those we serve, including each other. Thank you for your patience and support.

Now, on to your questions.

Q:  I have a request which I believe is shared by many who park in Garage C. When turning into campus from Lakeland and heading south towards the garage (I apologize but I don't actually know the name of that street), there are two lanes. The left lane is a left-turn only lane. I honestly have never, ever seen anyone turn left. The right lane is for vehicles to go straight through the stop sign or to turn right into the short street to take you to the north Garage C entrance. Given that Garage C is used quite frequently as well as the Pavilion, almost everyone at that stop sign either turns right or goes straight. No one turns left.  Can the lanes be changed, so that the right lane is a right-turn-only lane and the left lane is for anyone going straight or turning left? I believe this minimal change would significantly improve traffic flow into the Pavilion for patients and into Garage C for faculty. Thank you for considering.

A:  This sounded like such a good idea I immediately referred it to our folks in Physical Facilities. The main campus thoroughfare you describe is East University Drive at its intersection with Central University Drive. You are right that very few drivers headed south from Lakeland make that left turn onto Central University, which runs by the former laundry and is largely used by maintenance vehicles. However, when our staff took a look at the intersection, they noted that changing the “straight-ahead” lane to what is now the left turn lane would force southbound vehicles going through the intersection to veer right to avoid hitting oncoming vehicles attempting to turn west on Central University, as indicated by the drawing above. If we had a “do over,” this intersection might have been engineered differently, but for now the consensus is it should stay as is. 

Q:  It would be helpful if employees could save as PDFs their paystubs, W-2s, 1095s, etc., from Lawson. Every other place I have worked has had this functionality. Could someone please add this functionality to Lawson?

A:  I forwarded your question to our Payroll Office and, by coincidence, the PDF functionality is being added to Lawson/MHC on the March 3 pay date.  You will access your electronic direct deposits and W-2s through Employee Self-Service on the “Paystubs and W-2s” tab. You may have noticed that your 2016 W-2 was delivered in a PDF format that could be saved. All prior paystubs and W-2s from 2011 through 2017 also are being saved in a PDF format. Accessing your paystub may take up to 15 seconds, but you will be able to print or save the PDF file. 

Q:  We used to have a dress code at UMMC. It was agreeable and not too stringent. Lately employees are dressing as if they were running errands on a weekend - leggings, flip flops, sweat pants, rumpled clothes, etc. I find a lot of this quite offensive and can't imagine what some of our patients think. Can leadership address this situation? Apparently individual employees aren't up to it.

A:  We do indeed have a dress code at UMMC and it is the responsibility of all employees to follow it. You can find the dress code in the UMMC Standards Guide. Our students also have a dress code specific to each school. It's important that we project a professional appearance toward our patients and others and I expect our dress code to be followed and enforced. 

Q:  I'm concerned as more and more reports of Jackson water issues are surfacing and showing just how undrinkable the water is including high levels of lead. Is UMMC using water filters that eliminate lead? As an employee, I bring my water bottle to work and fill it at least twice each day using the drinking fountain and would like to know what UMMC is doing to keep our water safe.

A:  As a reminder, the main UMMC campus has its own water supply and is not reliant on City of Jackson water. UMMC has three certified waterworks operators employed in the Division of Physical Facilities who are responsible for testing our water. UMMC sampling requirements mandated by the EPA and regulated by the State Department of Health require us to collect nine bacteriological samples per month from a list of 23 possible sample points located throughout the campus. We also are required to test for lead and copper every two years, taking 20 samples from a list of 60 possible sample points located throughout the Medical Center and UMMC sites off the main campus. We last tested for lead and copper in March 2016 and I'm told that none of the samples exceeded allowable limits. Even though the requirement for lead testing is every two years we are testing annually and will test again next month. 

Q:  It still pains me as a UMMC provider that some faculty are unwilling to put patients first. I was sitting in the specialty clinic and overheard a conversation between a nurse and doctor about an incident earlier in the day. The gist of the conversation was that Dr. X in Clinic Y was causing a patient to be late and to see if Dr. D in clinic F would accommodate the patient. Dr. D could not. The final answer was no, the patient would have to reschedule. There was no attempt to accommodate the patient in any way. The worst part about the whole conversation was that neither the nurse nor the doctor involved in this conversation appreciated the importance of trying to find a way to say "Yes." The two were almost giddy at the fact that Dr. D would not accommodate the patient. The "just say NO" attitude remains pervasive throughout the institution, from the folks in the business offices that approve travel requests to the front lines where we interact with our clients. It is easy to say "No" but growing to say "Yes." Disheartened Faculty Member.

A:  This story is disheartening to me as well. Conversations like these are revealing of organizational culture. We have decided as a community that the example you cite is not the kind of organization we want to be, and we are moving in a very deliberate way - individually and collectively - toward the desired culture. What is that desired culture? Your story put me in mind of a VC Notes from last September, when I highlighted a “case study” provided by Dr. George Russell, chair of orthopaedic surgery. After sharing the story of staff from his department going out of their way to assist a patient, Dr. Russell summed up by saying, “Culture dictates whether we go beyond ourselves for a patient's benefit or place our convenience as the guiding principle. It is more onerous, frustrating, inconvenient and demanding to live out our Orthopaedic Culture. There is no even exchange for doing the right thing. So why do we do it? We do it because it is what we would wish for family members or ourselves if we were relying on someone else for our health care.  Is there any question that it is worth it?”

I know there are many, many people here who demonstrate the UMMC Culture that we want to project to the world. I would just ask those like yourself to not only model our UMMC Culture but, when you witness such behavior, to gently encourage and even challenge others to get on board. In that sense, from wherever we are in the organization, we all have the opportunity to lead - to a stronger, more caring UMMC and A Healthier Mississippi.


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