VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, November 30, 2018

Five Questions

Good morning!

I can’t believe 2018 is almost over.  It’s gone by so fast!  I hope everyone had a restorative Thanksgiving holiday and is looking forward to continued celebration with friends and family in the coming weeks.

Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the shooting incident that occurred yesterday evening on North State Street.  Even though it did not occur on our campus, the proximity and uncertainty of the situation made it appropriate to activate our active shooter response protocol.  I want to thank the police - our own officers, the Jackson Police Department and others - for their quick and professional response in gaining control of the situation.  I also want to thank our Emergency Services team, care teams and others on campus who responded according to our plan and training.  By all accounts, our employees and students reacted calmly to the alert and I appreciate that.  Our plan worked well, but there are areas of our response we need to work on, and this incident just demonstrates the importance of continual preparation, drills and training.  Our thoughts and well wishes this morning are with those injured and their families.

It’s the last Friday of the month, so today I’ll answer some of your questions.  Just as a reminder, I read all your questions and comments and want you to keep them coming.  I can’t address them all in this forum, but I pass them along for further consideration by other UMMC leaders. 

Now, on to your questions.    

Q:  I just have to say that the countdown timer associated with the Chasing Zero campaign is absolutely useless. You cannot motivate people with a countdown timer. It's not a game, and putting this up on the Clinical Intranet is demoralizing and demeaning. If you want a culture of safety you have to create one, from the top down. Gaming culture has no business in health care.

vc_Nov_30_chasing_zero.jpgA:  I asked Dr. Michael Henderson, chief medical officer, to respond:  “It is interesting that your perspective on Chasing Zero on the Clinical Intranet represents a ‘gaming culture,’ as the intent is quite the opposite.  Patient safety is not a slogan but a way of life, and at UMMC, we have embarked on the journey to change our way of life.  The clock reference was intended to help all UMMC employees better understand the events that occur within the organization and for everyone to learn from them.  Prior to Chasing Zero (as in ‘zero harm’), most people were not even aware of the patient safety events that had occurred within the organization.  If we are not aware, then we cannot learn from these events and improve the care we provide to our patients.  To build a solid patient safety program, we must have a non-punitive environment with a robust reporting system. We have worked hard to implement this environment as we investigate events and conduct productive, participatory root-cause-analysis meetings.  We are proud to report we have seen an increase in the number of I-CARE events reported and have seen improvement in all Culture of Safety Survey metrics this year.  An unexpected, but positive, outcome of the Intranet clock has been the thirst for more transparency.  The clock has caught people’s attention.  If the clock stops and the summary is not immediately available, our phone starts ringing.  The desire to improve is within all of us, but we need to know where our gaps are to make changes.  Lastly, you mentioned that patient safety should be a push from the top down.  Not so.  It needs to be a partnership between leadership and frontline staff, because experience has shown frontline staff are better engaged when they are a part of the solution versus being charged with implementing a leadership mandate.  With this new sense of transparency everyone can take ownership and play their part in keeping all of the patients at UMMC safe.”

Q:  Dr. Woodward, would you please consider adding one of the three UMMC holidays back to our normal holiday rotation. We lost Veterans, Birthday and Anniversary Work Holidays.

A:  I wish it were that simple.  When we reduced the number of days of annual paid time off by a net two days in 2009, that action was driven by financial considerations.  As you indicate, we discontinued providing paid time off for an employee’s birthday and anniversary date and we stopped observing Veterans Day as a formal paid holiday.  In exchange, we gave employees a “floating holiday” that they can use at any point during the year, including for birthday, work anniversary or Veterans Day, if they so desire.  At this point, we provide employees with nine paid holidays and one floating holiday, which compares very favorably with our peers, and we expect that arrangement to remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

Q:  We have a real estate problem at UMMC. We are running out of room because we can only go so far outward. Why aren't we building higher in the sky? We are wasting building space by not building higher towers, parking garages, etc. I have seen hospitals in other cities that are twice as high as our buildings. Have any thoughts been given to this?

A:  You are correct that our space for expansion is limited, although we are not as constrained as some of our peers in downtown areas of larger cities.  Although they wouldn’t be termed skyscrapers, the last few structures we have built on campus have been among the taller buildings, including the School of Medicine education building (five stories), the Translational Research Center (seven stories), Garage C (eight stories) and the Children’s expansion (seven stories).  When we eventually build an outpatient clinic to replace the University Physicians Pavilion, it will almost certainly be multi-story.  We do have some open spaces on campus, particularly in the northeast quadrant, and we will one day remove the dormitories in the northwest quadrant to free up space for new construction.  All of this future activity will be guided by our Campus Master Plan, which was updated within the last year. 

Q:  I have been fortunate enough to have a very successful recovery from a total knee replacement, thanks to UMMC PT and the UMMC Exercise is Medicine program at the University Wellness Center. I never see the Exercise is Medicine program promoted and have spoken with many faculty who are unaware of it and its benefits. Please consider a larger campaign to make everyone aware of what a valuable opportunity this is for employees.

A:  First of all, congratulations on your successful knee replacement.  I’m so glad that our physical therapy and fitness programs gave you the care needed for a great recovery.  I did a little research and the Exercise Is Medicine program is certainly an excellent resource for conditions such as yours and many others.  Available at our University Wellness Centers at 2625 Courthouse Circle in Flowood and at 255 Marilyn Drive in Brandon, Exercise is Medicine is a health initiative offered by the American College of Sports Medicine.  It encourages primary care and other health care providers to prescribe physical activity when designing treatment plans.  In short, a medical provider writes a prescription for the patient to the University Wellness Center for Exercise Is Medicine.  The program requires a referral, lasts 12 weeks - three visits weekly - and costs $25 per month.  You do not have to be a member of the center to participate.  Fitness specialists conduct 30-minute supervised group exercise sessions, and at the end of the 12-week program, a post-program assessment is conducted to measure the patient’s progress, with a report going to his or her medical provider.  If you’d like more information, contact Tommy Berg, coordinator of fitness and medical integration at the UMMC Wellness Centers, at 601-724-1099 or email

Q:  In the stadium parking lot, on the first row behind McGee's tire, there are three handicapped parking spaces that each sit next to a closed bus stop. The buses no longer stop there. These parking places do not offer any help to a person who is disabled, since the person would have to walk several rows over to reach a functioning bus stop. Would it be possible to take away the handicapped distinction so that the spots could be utilized? I know that three spots won't amount to much, but every parking spot NOT in the “back forty” is beneficial to those of us who walk in to work.

A:  My initial thought when I read your question was that this sounds like a reasonable idea.  I forwarded it to our managers in Physical Facilities and here is their response:  “GREAT SUGGESTION!  You are absolutely correct.  We will convert these spaces back to regular employee parking.”

This just confirms the expression that “it takes a village,” and that good ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere in a community.  Please keep them coming, as together we make our way toward A Healthier Mississippi.

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