My first order of business today is to thank Dr. Al Rankins, newly appointed commissioner of higher education, for visiting UMMC yesterday on his statewide listening tour. A veteran of the IHL administration and also former president of Alcorn State University, Dr. Rankins is well prepared to take on this role. UMMC is unlike any of the other institutions Dr. Rankins and the IHL board oversee, and I can sense his enthusiasm for learning as much as he can about all the amazing work you do here.
Since it’s the last Friday of the month, today I’ll answer some of your questions. As a reminder, I read all of your questions and appreciate all of them. They are an important source of information – and often inspiration – for me. I’m unable to answer all of them in this venue, but I forward many of them to administrators for their review and possible action.
Now, on to your questions.
Q: Every day, I encounter patients and visitors who are lost in the hospital. I try my best to direct them, but our facility is so big that I don’t always know where things are. I even try to escort patients, if possible, but the reality is that sometimes we don’t have time and must get back to our department. My question is, can we get more people strategically placed throughout the hospital to help guide people? Maybe have a person by McDonald’s and another by the cafeteria? It might also help to have little “map bins” in the hospital?
A: First of all, let me thank you for going above and beyond in taking the initiative to help our patients and visitors find their way. When time permits, escorting them is a kind and wonderful service and can reduce their stress when they or their family members are ill.
I spoke with Patrice Donald, our director of patient and family advocacy. She said we do use our volunteers for “wayfinding,” but we work in an environment that spans more than 2 million square feet. It’s challenging, not just for our visitors, but for our employees who also navigate a huge facility. Patrice and those in our Office of Patient Experience are in the midst of exploring more options to better guide our visitors and patients. Please know that you and other employees who help fill the gaps and propose solutions are so appreciated!
Q: As UMMC does a great job in promoting good health and wellness for both patients and employees, is it possible to consider having blood pressure monitoring throughout the hospital? I am a hypertensive person, and I know that this would be quite beneficial to myself and others. We have a spectacular Heart Center, but no blood pressure monitors.
A: That’s a good idea and potential options are actually being discussed by the Medical Center’s Wellness Committee, says Dr. Josh Mann, professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine. They’re looking at the reliability of measurement, costs, maintenance needs and where monitors might be located.
But in the interim, if employees feels their blood pressure is too high or too low, they’re encouraged to go to UMMC’s Quick Care Clinic on the second floor of the Lakeland Family Medical Center. You don’t need an appointment; simply go and ask for a nurse to take your blood pressure. Calling ahead isn’t necessary – but staff there say they’d appreciate it, because they want to watch for your arrival, especially if you are feeling ill.
Q: I have had more than one patient recently report that the Pavilion parking situation is very stressful for them. I had one who recently specifically requested an appointment time when they hoped this situation would be less stressful. I had another who asked me if I could recommend a non-UMMC provider for her husband because she thought he would benefit from the type of treatment I was providing to her, but knew he could not handle the stress of receiving it in my clinic because of the parking. I don’t know how representative this experience is, but I have a pretty small caseload, so it struck me that I got two unsolicited comments. Both of these were older adults, so the situation may be disproportionately impacting patients in this demographic.
A: Parking has gotten much better since Pavilion-area construction began, and physicians’ offices are working hard to lower stress by spacing the scheduling of patients to help avert a backup of vehicles. There are multiple options, and signs are visibly posted. We offer free valet parking: Just pull up to the valet location closest to the north end of Garage C and the valet will park your car in a special lot. If patients want to park their own vehicle, they can do that in the Pavilion lot or one of 34 spaces dedicated to Pavilion patients in Garage C south of the School of Dentistry. There are also spaces in the small Parking Lot 1 on the side of Garage C. Also, UMMC’s automated appointment reminder system sends a valet parking message to patients who haven’t been seen within the last 90 days to help ensure they know about parking changes before they arrive.
Q: I am a resident at UMMC and will be completing my fellowship here as well. Lots of my friends are graduating from other universities now, and I have seen that they are getting a big graduation ceremony by the university. I know we have graduation ceremonies at the departmental levels, but I really would like to see if it's possible for us to have a graduation ceremony for the residents and fellows at the university level. We are graduating after long years of study and training, and as you know, this is a proud moment for the family and friends.
A: That’s a very interesting thought. I will need to talk to the program directors as well as the folks in the graduate medical education office. Residents and fellows play a crucial role in the life and work of the Medical Center and we celebrate their achievements. I will look into it and follow up with more information in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.
Q: Why will Campus Police not do something about the people who park illegally in the stadium parking lot? Every day, there are at least two cars parked past the last parking space on the street outside the gate and almost going into North State Street. There is a sign in front of where they are parking that says, “No parking at any time. Tow away zone.” This morning was the worst. A car was actually parked in the driveway part of the gate opening in the stadium where cars pull in. They have been getting closer and closer, and now right in the gate opening! If campus police are patrolling, they have to see this. It’s affecting cars being able to get in and out of the gates in the stadium. If the reason is because it’s not our security’s jurisdiction, then why on Earth does our security not notify JPD to ticket or tow these vehicles?
A: Cars parked outside the stadium gates — for example, those parked outside the lot immediately next to the Department of Health – are not UMMC’s enforcement responsibility, but that of either JSU or Capitol Police. However, if UMMC police officers see a violation, they notify the proper agency. UMMC Police Chief Michael Stamps said seven cars were recently towed after they were reported to either Capitol Police or JSU. Chief Stamps said if UMMC employees see a violation, they should give Campus Police a call and an officer will promptly pass on the information to the agency having jurisdiction. “And then, we’ll follow up on it,” Chief Stamps said.
Before I close this week, I'd like to encourage you to complete the Employee Engagement Survey if you haven't already done so. The link to your personalized survey is in your e-mail - just search for "survey" in your inbox and you should find it easily. The survey represents the Medical Center's best opportunity to hear from its employees, and the results could impact the workforce decisions senior leaders make going forward. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and is entirely painless, I promise.
Thanks again for all of your questions, and thank you for all the work you do to help us achieve A Healthier Mississippi.