Today is the last Friday of the month so I’ll answer some of your questions. As a reminder, I read all of your questions and comments and appreciate all of them. I can’t respond to every question in this column, but I pass most of the rest along to senior managers to review. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with me.
Now, on to your questions.
Q: Is the new School of Medicine a “green” building and will the new Children’s addition be green construction?
A: Yes, all of UMMC’s new buildings, including the medical education building and the Translational Research Center, are “green” and incorporate sustainable features, including the following items:
- Use of energy-efficient mechanical system components
- Use of building management software to reduce energy consumption
- Use of LED lighting to reduce energy consumption
- Occupancy sensors for lighting controls
- Implementation of recycling and waste mitigation
- Use of recycled materials where possible
- Use of natural light as much as possible
- Storm water management plan
- Environmental design considerations such as building orientation, shading, wind studies, etc.
- Reduction of construction waste
- ”Green” roofing materials
- Energy-efficient exterior window systems
- Low VOC paints and interior finishes
- Low-flow bathroom fixtures to reduce water consumption
- Sensor water faucets in public restrooms
- Use of resource-efficient landscaping
UMMC follows the Institutions of Higher Learning Sustainability Policy 920, which mandates goals and compliance with federal sustainability standards, and these standards are included in UMMC project specifications. We are proud that our newer buildings are not just beautiful and functional; they are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Q: We just spent several million dollars on a brand new medical education building, which is great. However, there are at least five buckets/trash cans in the waiting areas in the Pavilion where the roof is leaking. Are there any plans to repair current buildings? Particularly those that involve patient care?
A: Replacing the roof on the University Physicians Pavilion is an item in our FY18 capital budget. That budget has not been finalized, however, so a start date has not yet been identified for the project. In the meantime, we are patching the roof when leaks occur. In our facilities master plan, the Pavilion is a priority for replacement by a larger and more functional specialty clinic, but realistically that is still three to five years away. And by the way, bond funds that pay for a special project such as the new medical education building are restricted in their use and can't be applied to routine building maintenance.
Q: The Aug. 8 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) included an article on the audio recording of patient encounters. I have been recorded on a few occasions, overtly and covertly. It is my understanding that Mississippi is a single party consent state, meaning that if the patient condones the recording, the patient or designee may record. Do you have any suggestions for handling a patient request to record an encounter? What about when covert recording is discovered? What are your recommendations for trainees and students?
A: I won’t provide an exhaustive response to this question because there are many nuances, but after checking with our Legal Department, our position is that the clinical areas of UMMC are special-purpose areas. We have the responsibility to control what occurs in these areas to maintain a setting consistent with the safe and orderly delivery of health care without distractions or disruptions. There also may be concerns about maintaining the confidentiality of our patients’ private health information. With these imperatives in mind, we would assert that our providers may respectfully decline to be audio- or video-recorded, and to courteously ask that our patients and their families or visitors not record activities in our clinical units if it would tend to be disruptive or distracting or result in a breach of patient privacy. There may be cases in which the request to record may be legitimate: for example, to deliver detailed information from an encounter to another person who will be assisting in the patient’s care post-discharge. Again, it’s up to our providers to make the “yes/no” decision about recording. The ubiquity of smartphones today has made this a bigger issue, so our legal team is developing a policy that will enhance clarity about it for our providers. We always want to treat our patients, their families and visitors with courtesy and respect, but there are boundaries that must be maintained so that we can conduct our work effectively.
Q: I am an employee in the Pavilion and I can't tell you how many times I have been stopped by visitors for directions within the hospital, the Pavilion, and crossing the street to the Pavilion. Even patients coming from hours away somehow always end up on the wrong side of the hospital because they are not familiar with our campus. Half the time they have no clue where it is they are trying to get to but I try to direct them there or to someone who can help them to the best of my abilities. With the construction and different departments relocating it’s hard to find all the different locations. I know we have paper maps that we may give to the patients but even to me those are very confusing. Is there a way a phone app of some sort can be put into effect to help our patients, visitors and employees find their way around this very large campus?
A: First let me thank you for your positive attitude in helping people find their way to their destination. You are right – UMMC is a large, complex organization that spans many different buildings and off-campus locations so it is inevitable that people will get lost from time to time. A number of our major points of entry are staffed with people who can give directions or hand out maps, but getting from Point A to Point B can still be daunting. What I appreciate – and I’ve seen this countless times – are employees and students who are willing to go out of their way to walk with visitors to their destination. Think about what a positive impression that makes on someone in an unfamiliar and even intimidating place! Since you mentioned it, we actually have been looking at a wayfinding app that people could download to their smartphones. Even if we wind up deploying that technology, there will still be many people who are unaware of the app, uncomfortable with high-tech solutions, or simply have trouble following maps. We’ll keep working on multi-faceted solutions to this problem of wayfinding, but in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that we can always rely on our helpful staff to get our guests where they need to be.
Q: Somehow we need to find our way back to the personal interactive way in which communication used to happen, prior to e-mail and text. Something was lost; an element of personal interaction when we speak to one another just can't be replaced by cold formal emails. We as an organization need to start trying to communicate with one another in person. True, it means leaving the comfort zone of shooting off an email or text, but for that extra effort I feel certain we could bring a little of the human element back into our daily lives. Technology just can't replace the human element.
A: I included your comment today because I feel it’s a message that should be shared with as many of you as possible. Obviously there is a place for emails, texts and other non-personal forms of communication, such as this newsletter. They are efficient ways to share information and have greatly enhanced productivity. But I agree that nothing takes the place of face-to-face communication. That’s why I’ve always made walk-rounds a priority, and why monthly Leadership Rounds has become such a vital communication tool with front-line staff. All of us are busy. Our workdays are filled with tasks large and small that command our immediate attention. To some extent, though, it’s important to build in time for personal interaction with each other. In particular, I hope our senior leaders will set aside time to personally “check in” with all of their employees on a regular basis.
One of the most fulfilling parts of working at UMMC is the opportunity it provides to connect with people – our colleagues, our patients, our students and many others. But amid many distractions and diversions, we have to consciously choose to nurture this most valued part of our work. Let’s all remember to be present for each other, as we strive toward our goal of A Healthier Mississippi.