VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, June 16, 2017

Produce, Priorities and Peace

Good morning!

VC_fresh_market.jpgToday I'll start by giving a plug to the inaugural UMMC Farmer's Market next Thursday, June 22. No, not the Farmer's Market property that accommodates our overflow parking, though you can always purchase healthy fruits and vegetables there. I'm talking about the farmer's market that will be held in the Clinical Sciences hallway, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The staff in our Department of Preventive Medicine have organized this effort as part of our growing Everyday Wellness initiative. You can find the details on the Intranet, and I invite you to come by and stock up on all the fresh produce you can carry.

I've been so impressed by the progress being made with our wellness activities. From seminars on psychological resilience and healthy weight management to free Zumba classes at the Student Union to an employee wellness challenge that took place just yesterday, Everyday Wellness has started to become part of the landscape of daily life here. And it's only just beginning. Kudos to Dr. Josh Mann, Brea Cole and the Wellness Committee for growing this initiative the right way and making these offerings available to our employees. They deserve it!


A little less than a year ago Chancellor Vitter asked each of his direct reports to list our top 5 strategic priorities for the 2016-17 academic year. I thought a lot about it, asked many others for their opinions, and finally settled on a top 5.

As I wrote about this topic in VC Notes at the time, the hardest part was settling on only five. There are at least a hundred significant goals that I want to accomplish, and that I know you are working hard on, so boiling it down to just five was its own form of torture.

The Top 5 were:

     1.  Clinical Quality
     2.  Platforms for Collaboration
     3.  Children's of Mississippi Expansion
     4.  Mayo Clinic Partnership
     5.  Strategic Academic Growth

A few weeks ago I met with senior leaders from across the organization to discuss our priorities and we did indeed re-confirm these as key strategic initiatives. We also determined it is strategically important to focus on our ambulatory presence as well as the needs of our workforce, so these are part of our focus going forward.

We've seen marked progress in the Top 5 during the last year. Without getting into too much detail, here are the highlights:  

  • In Clinical Quality, most of the measures we track are improving, some faster than others. But what I'm most pleased about is the level of across-the-board engagement with quality improvement by front-line staff, faculty and clinical leaders. More than an initiative, more than a movement, quality improvement is becoming a way of life for our organization and our national scores beginning to reflect that.

  • Platforms for Collaboration spoke to our need for greater operational flexibility to conduct business. This past year we were able to convince the Legislature that this flexibility is vital to the Medical Center's future, and the result was the Health Care Collaboration Act of 2017. With this huge hurdle crossed, our focus becomes Collaboration with Other Health Systems.

  • Less than a year into our campaign for expansion of our pediatric facilities, we are already more than halfway toward our $100 million goal. Construction professionals are now working with architects to flesh out the details of the facilities.

  • With Mayo Clinic, we have initiated a range of projects, including joint biobanking, co-investment in a system to help manage our clinical trials, and formation of a research Center of Excellence focused on Alzheimer's disease.

  • In Academics, the completion of the new School of Medicine building and the launch of the Bower School of Population Health are two developments that will have a profound impact on the state's health care workforce for years to come.


Finally, I'll close by saying a few words about the attack on members of Congress and their colleagues earlier this week in Alexandria, Virginia, as they practiced for a charity baseball game. I'm grateful that none of these innocent victims were killed, and our own Congressman Trent Kelly from Mississippi's 1st District, who visited UMMC in April, was uninjured. I'll add my voice to those who say that the political discourse in our country has become too harsh, overly personal, and, at times, disrespectful on all sides, and this crime seems to be a symptom of the problem.

The heroism of the police involved in stopping the attacker was inspiring, and I'm thankful we have a well-trained police force and contingency plans in place if we should ever have such an attack. It's understandable that such incidents heighten people's concerns here at home. I encourage you to report suspicious persons or activities to the police. You may also be interested in reviewing a video on surviving an active shooter event on the UMMC Police Intranet site.

The problem of violence in our society is something we all own and, in ways large or small, we all have the ability to influence, in our shared hope of a more peaceful, caring world and A Healthier Mississippi.

Follow me on Twitter @LAWoodwardMD