We have a few more days left in April and then it’s on to May and – for many of our students and teachers – the home stretch toward graduation and another summer.
Since today is the last Friday of the month, I will answer some of your questions. As a reminder, I read all of your questions and comments and look forward to doing so. I’m not able to answer all of them here, but I pass the rest on to senior administrators for their consideration and possible action.
Now, on to your questions.
Q: Is there any reason we couldn’t have our ID badges updated periodically, other than cost? Some of us who have been here many years look nothing like our ID photos. Also, after some time, the badge starts to look worn out, even when you keep it in a badge protector.
A: I have often wondered that myself, especially when I see badges of co-workers whose photos appear to date from the ‘80s or ‘90s. (By the way, some of us are OK with a “vintage” photo.) I checked with Human Resources and learned that for security purposes, they encourage employees to have their badges updated every fifth-year anniversary. The cost of the badge is not insignificant, mainly due to the expense of a security “smart” chip, special printing and heavy-duty laminate coating on each badge. UMMC will bear the cost of the replacement if the photo needs updating or there is a change in the employee’s title or some other crucial information element. When an otherwise serviceable badge is lost or damaged, the employee is charged $20 for a replacement. There have been discussions recently about redesigning the information on the badge, in part to accommodate a larger and more visible first name that can be easily read by patients. Those conversations are ongoing.
Q: I've only been working here a month and have noticed that signage across the institution, specifically throughout "old" Guyton, the "old" School of Medicine, locating Human Resources offices, and areas near the North and Central elevators, is misleading. As a new employee to the institution it is difficult to navigate, as well as feel comfortable, in leading customers/patients to the right location. Is there a university committee and/or initiative to address signage and navigation?
A: Our signage needs work. I think we’ve done a good job recently with adding exterior directional signs that help visitors to campus navigate around the construction areas and find what they’re looking for. Inside, particularly in University Hospital, some of the main wayfinding signs need updating and our interior signs lack consistency in style (typeface, color) from building to building. Recently we’ve appointed a person working for the Chief Administrative Officer to get our signage system better organized, from the basic style of our signs to procurement/production, installation, updating, repair and replacement. We have assembled a working group representing all the stakeholders in the process and are refining our system. Once that process is better defined and working smoothly, we’ll start addressing the issues you mention. At some point, we’ll bring in a wayfinding consultant to evaluate our existing system and help us develop a comprehensive plan to improve it. There are other technological tools we are looking at, but the fact is that even with the best wayfinding system in the world, we will still have people who need the assistance of a knowledgeable guide. I appreciate that so many of our employees and students are willing to serve in that capacity and direct our patients and visitors where they need to be.
Q: Why does UMMC produce such a large amount of non-medical plastic? I see spoons, forks and knives in the cafeteria wrapped individually in plastic. Shouldn't we set an example to our community and produce less plastic?
A: I receive many submissions to VC Notes on this general topic of waste generation, recycling and what we should be doing to contribute to a “greener” planet. I agree with much of the sentiment expressed but would emphasize that real solutions are hard to come by. For a number of years, we had an active recycling program that even won awards. But in the last few years the bottom has fallen out of the recyclables market and our program has taken a major hit. I think we all want to take steps to reduce the use of plastic and waste of all kinds that ends up in landfills or, worse, in our waterways and oceans. But the fact is that as individuals and as members of communities, institutions, and state and local economic and political systems, we are constrained by boundaries not of our own making. Our food services vendor receives a lot of criticism about the waste it generates, but about a year ago Morrison made the major step to discontinue use of polystyrene take-out containers in favor of biodegradable paper containers. This was a huge step in the right direction. I welcome any and all ideas about how we can take additional steps, even small ones, to reduce our waste stream.
Q: I am wondering if we can provide some closer parking places for women who are pregnant or in their last months of pregnancy. Perhaps one of the first rows of parking just across the street at the stadium. (I know parking space on campus is limited.) The hot summer is approaching fast and the buses can sometimes be overcrowded, stuffy and very bumpy in the afternoons. Plus, we all need to walk every now and then!
A: I checked with our parking and transportation group and they recommend that women who are far along in pregnancy may want to submit paperwork to ride the Medical Van. Riders approved for this service may park in Lot D at Veterans Memorial Stadium and the van will deliver them directly to their work locations on campus. You can find the form on the UMMC main Intranet.
Q: First I would like to say thank you for taking the time to go through and answer our questions and concerns. Last month was Social Work Month and I did not see any signs of appreciation anywhere on campus. Social workers play such an important role in the services we provide to our patients. Often they do so much and are thanked so little. I feel as though we missed an opportunity to say "thank you" for all the work that they do. I can think of so many times I have seen our social workers go above and beyond for our patients.
A: You are so right! Our social workers are awesome! I know that from my own experience when I was on active service in the Emergency Department. They do so much for our patients and families but don’t often get the credit they deserve. Social workers are also a vital part of our current focus on case management and discharge planning. We couldn’t do this work without our social workers, just as we couldn’t do it without all the other roles that make UMMC unique in our state.
Thank you again for all of your questions. Your engagement is an inspiration to me, as we make our way toward A Healthier Mississippi.