VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, May 25, 2018

Q & A Day

Good morning.

This is Commencement week – a joyous occasion.

Without question Commencement is one of my favorite events of the year. I get such a charge looking out over the floor of the Coliseum at graduates who are eager to start their careers in the health sciences or step into new chapters of their existing ones. 

vc_may_25_commencement.jpgThis is the 62nd year UMMC has conferred degrees on its graduating classes. I’m sure if I asked the right person, he or she could tell me how many degrees that is during those 62 years, but I think we’ll be okay with just saying it’s a LOT.

When I stand before that robed group of soon-to-be alumni this morning, I will be looking at the people who will drive the next wave of health care innovation in our state and beyond.  These graduates will be the leaders that help find and facilitate new cures for diseases and new ways to treat people. One of these graduates could be the catalyst for the next big thing in patient care or medical education.  What an exciting thought!

To this year’s graduates, congratulations. Welcome to the UMMC alumni family. And of course, as I always say, we hope you stick around – Mississippi needs you. 

Today is also the last Friday of May, so I’ll answer some of your questions. I appreciate all of the comments and questions you send in to me and I read them all.  Although I can’t answer them all here, I do try to include the ones that seem the most relevant to the most people. I pass the rest along to senior administrators for review and possible action. So if you don’t see your question below, please don’t think it didn’t hit its mark.  Now, on to your questions.

Q. "Within the last several months, I have been approached by people here at UMMC for money to assist with food, bills and other things. However, they are neither hospital employees nor patients. Yesterday, I came back from clinic at 6 p.m. and was approached by a woman and child at the elevators by Meds and Threads. The woman asked for money for a family member’s funeral. As she asked, I got on the elevator to go to my office and she got on it with me. Frankly, it was scary. There wasn't anyone around and we were alone on the elevator. My request is for more security presence. Security is all concentrated at the front entrance, and not present in other areas. I feel that if security personnel were around in other areas, this would not be as likely to occur. I did not call security because she was not threatening, but she obviously was bold."

A. lot of people pass through UMMC’s doors each day. Our Campus Police is constantly on the lookout for people on our campus - including parking areas - who may appear to pose a threat.  Officers are posted in many areas of campus and are scheduled to make routine rounds through and around all campus buildings.    I’m sorry what you experienced caused you concern, and I’m glad it wasn’t more than someone looking for some help.  However, we must not let our guard down.  While our security and police can’t be everywhere all the time – and it’s likely the situation you experienced wouldn’t have been obvious to them – it’s important that we provide assistance.  Campus Police has the motto, “If you see something, say something.”  Anything of concern - whether it be something happening to you or something that you see - should be reported to Campus Police by calling 5-7777 or 911 if calling from a campus phone. 

While I’m on this topic, let me remind you that the Medical Center’s ongoing active shooter training is due by the end of the month.  If you haven’t yet logged into HealthStream to complete it, please do so as soon as possible.

Q. “We should have the university main hospital exterior pressure washed.  It would make the age of the building appear to be what it actually is - 12 years old - as opposed to it looking 30-40 years old like it does right now.”

A. I have to agree with you. I asked our guru on all things facility-related, Ivory Bogan, about this and he said Physical Facilities pressure washes the building exteriors on a constant, rotating basis.  The schedule works out so each building gets a cleaning within a five-year span. And I’m happy to report that University Hospital is next on the “to-do” list.  I can’t wait to see what is considered our front-door building shine within the coming weeks. 

Q. “Since the ‘NEW Cafeteria’ came into being, I along with many of my co-workers have sent numerous e-mails about the unsatisfactory experience we receive at the cafeteria. It has had its ups and downs, and for the most part we find it very lacking. One important note, this is from the evening and midnight shifts only. I think the cafeteria is a completely different place during the day. That is a real shame, because we feel like we should be treated to an equal experience at night and so should visitors and patient families.”

A. I have heard many good things about the changes that have been made recently. However, it sounds like the advancements in quality and choices the day-siders are experiencing may not have made their way to the late-shift hours. I reached out to Greg Richmond, director of food and nutrition services, who admits his team has had some challenges with consistency in menu choices and customer service during the night shift. Greg said he is committed to improving these areas at night, so he has hired a new night-shift supervisor and is in the process of hiring additional staff. Greg’s team is also working on menu changes for the night shift to go along with the soup, pizza and salad bar options that were added this year. Improving the cafeteria for the late shift employees, families and visitors is and will continue to be a focus, and Greg invites anyone with late-night food services comments to email him at jrichmond@umc.edu.

Before I close this week, I want to comment on a sadness that has befallen the UMMC family. We all suffer the loss of loved ones along the way. Death is inescapably woven into the journey of life. When it happens abruptly to a young person, it is especially tragic and difficult to comprehend.

I am thankful for all you do for UMMC, the state of Mississippi, our patients and each other as we walk together on this journey toward A Healthier Mississippi


Follow me on Twitter @LAWoodwardMD