It’s the last Friday of the month (happy third payday!), so today I’ll answer some of your questions.
Before I begin, I want to give a BIG congratulations to members of our staff and faculty responsible for UMMC being named a “Baby-Friendly” birth facility for the care and services we provide to mothers and babies that encourage breastfeeding. Achieving this designation was a five-year labor of love on the part of a large team and we are so proud of this accomplishment. The greatest honor is knowing we are providing the very best care to our mothers and their babies.
Just as a reminder, I read all of your questions and comments. Although I can’t respond to all of them, I pass the rest along to others for review and possible action. I appreciate all of your remarks and thank you for sending them. It’s important for me to know what’s on your mind.
Now, on to your questions.
Q: I read with interest a recent eCV article, "Future UMMC Campus Growth? There's a Plan for That," as well as your VC Notes detailing the new School of Medicine construction and plans for future growth. However, are there any plans to update the OLD School of Medicine entrance near the nursing school? It is literally falling apart – paint is peeling and water leaks through the covered areas. This is a main entrance used by many clinical staff and students. It is also the area in which new recruits are brought in to our Talent Acquisition area, and is one in which many individuals parking in Garage A use. Today I escorted a potential hire in through this entrance and was embarrassed that this was their initial impression of our facility. Can you please outline what is being done to improve the aesthetics of this entrance?
A: As I wrote in response to a similar question about a year ago, I could not agree more with you that this key entrance to part of our campus is in sad shape and poorly represents UMMC. Part of the difficulty in renovating this area is its status as a historically significant structure, as designated by the state Division of Archives and History. So any renovation has to maintain the form and character of the original structure. Also, with many other competing capital projects, it has been challenging to identify the money to make these improvements. With all that said, our Office of Planning, Design and Construction advises me they now have approved plans in hand, funding allocated, and the renovation is “on the list” to be kicked off, hopefully, next spring.
Q: I very rarely get to eat lunch throughout my day, but on Tuesdays, I usually did whatever I could do to get my hands on a taco salad. Why in the world did the most popular item on UMMC's menu get taken away? There must be a very valid reason?
A: I’ve gotten several questions just like yours: What happened to the taco salad? So I called Greg Richmond, director of nutrition services, and he gave me the scoop. Greg said the cafeteria discontinued the taco salad a while back because it lost money on every one sold, due to poor portion control. In preparing the salads, the cafeteria staff simply made them too big. (No wonder they were popular!) But there’s good news. In response to comments like yours, Greg said the cafeteria will soon bring back “Taco Salad Tuesdays.” But be advised, the portion size will be a little smaller, or the price will be a little higher, to cover the food cost. Also, the size will be consistent so the cafeteria can honor its commitment to providing accurate nutrition labeling on its best-selling food items. I commend Greg and his staff for responding to the wishes of their customers.
Q: I have noticed about 15 parking spaces labeled as reserved for the "Employee of the Month," but only one or two people are parked there. If there is a place to nominate someone, I would like to know.
A: Those parking spaces are part of our awards and recognition program to identify and reward employees in some small way for performance and behavior that is “above and beyond” what is expected. There are actually 10 spaces – five for employees and five for students singled out for this recognition. To nominate an employee, visit the Awards and Recognition web page on the campus Intranet. To navigate there, click Administration>Awards for Nomination and Recognition. There’s no category for Employee of the Month, so just nominate the person who you believe to be deserving. The Awards Team determines winners on a monthly basis. The student nomination process is managed by the Office of Student Affairs, with awardees chosen by the various schools.
Q: Why do supervisors not seem to be enforcing the professional appearance policy? Just in the past month I have observed employees displaying the following: a large nose ring, a do-rag, and both arms covered in tattoos that were not concealed. I've also seen employees with multiple studs in the ears and nose. Last time I checked, this was not allowed. Our patients just may choose to go to other hospitals locally that take the dress code seriously and have more professional appearance.
A: I believe all of the examples you cite are violations of our current Standards Guide, which can be found on the UMMC Intranet. The current guide is a number of years old and is in the process of being reviewed and updated by a broadly representative Medical Center committee. The new policy will encompass the entire Medical Center community, including students. The Executive Cabinet will make a final determination on the policy in the next few weeks and, if all goes as planned, it will take effect early next year. In the meantime, I am one of those people who believes we should follow the rules that are in place. My expectation is that supervisors will enforce the current standards while always being mindful of an individual’s personal dignity.
Q: I enjoyed having my lunch outside of the Methodist Hospital while the weather is nice. However, I noticed the large tree that has served as the Christmas tree for the Children's Hospital really needs to be trimmed. Please have UMMC lawn services take the time and trim the tree before the decorations are placed so it can be a beautiful tree this year.
A: Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I passed your comment along to Mr. Ivory Bogan, executive director of facilities management, and he and his team are “on it” in their usual manner. We have a wonderful grounds crew who do such a great job of keeping our grounds beautiful despite constant construction and disruption.
Thank you as well for reminding me, as we head into October, that fall, cooler weather and the holiday season are just around the corner. Every season that passes brings us that much closer to A Healthier Mississippi.