VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, March 17, 2017

Our Journey Continues

 Yesterday, we held a news conference to announce that we were losing nearly 200 of our coworkers as we cope with financial challenges.

Today, in a few hours, I will attend Match Day, one of the most joyous occasions in the life of an academic medical center, when our 135 fourth-year medical students will learn where and with whom they'll spend the next phase of their lives as resident physicians. 

That these two extremes can happen in the same 24-hour span shows just how volatile our world of health care can be, but also how our traditions can help ground us and get us through a difficult time.

This is my third consecutive VC Notes about finances and, believe me, I am past ready to move on to happier topics.  But I feel it's important to pause and acknowledge those who have left us and reflect on what's ahead. 

As I said in my memo yesterday, our coworkers who lost their jobs are good, hard-working people who will be missed as team members.  Whether they were here for one year or 20, they were part of what defined us and we will miss them. 

I want to acknowledge the feelings of sadness and loss that I'm sure many of you are experiencing.  This is a normal and even healthy reaction.

I've received numerous emails and comments - some from unexpected sources - that have been consoling and also encouraging.  These expressions bolster our individual and collective resilience.

At the same time, whether it takes hours or days, I know that we will resolve to move forward and embrace the challenges in front of us.  Because they will keep coming. 

We are on a journey to transform ourselves.  We have been working hard to improve our clinical quality, our business processes, our productivity.  We are nearly five years into the daunting task of implementing an electronic health record.  We are adopting new instructional techniques for the digital age and fostering team learning.  Long accustomed to delivering care in the friendly confines of 2500 North State Street, we are gradually reaching out in search of mutually beneficial clinical relationships across the state.

This is hard, seemingly endless work.  And while we're at it, we still have to do our “day job.” Our patients still need us, the next grant application awaits our attention, today's Match Day gives rise to tomorrow's student orientation. 

In the context of all this effort, the experience we've just gone through - a wrenching, end-of-year cutback with a layoff - is so demoralizing.  But it is part of our transformation.  It is an opportunity for us to reshape our organization so that we are better able to pivot in response to new, as yet unknown changes in the health care environment.

Now is the time for us to help each other, provide support and move through a healing process.  But our journey of transformation continues - toward a leaner, more efficient and ultimately stronger UMMC and A Healthier Mississippi. 

Follow me on Twitter