VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, August 30, 2019

Five Questions

Good morning!

As we approach the Labor Day holiday, I do want to acknowledge our own professional workforce, which is the heart of all that we are and all we hope to be.  I am so inspired by your commitment to excellence and your passion for this calling of ours – to teach, to discover and to heal.  All of those begin with a thirst for knowledge and understanding so that we can be, not perfect, but our best possible selves for those we serve.  Thank you for that.

Since it’s the last Friday of the month, today I’ll answer your questions.  As a reminder, I read all of your questions and comments and enjoy all of them.  I’m only able to answer a few of them here, but I pass the rest along to senior administrators for consideration and possible action.  Please keep your questions coming!

Department of Nephrology nurse practitioner Tiffany Clayton, second from right, talks about a patient to an interdisciplinary clinician group during rounding in the SICU.

Q:  I was curious if there are any plans for expansion of ICU beds in the adult hospital. With all the current talk of adding more adult med-surg beds, I would anticipate an increase in the need of ICU beds as well. I currently work Surgery-Trauma and many times when in need of a critical care bed we will overflow the patient to the PACU when all other ICUs are at capacity. Will this still be the case or will there be plans for building more ICU beds?

A:  There are plans under consideration for expansion of beds. This includes the possibility of building a sixth intensive care unit in currently shelled-in space at the top of the Conerly Critical Care Tower.  This has been one of the contingencies in our capacity management plan for some time.  The additional med-surg beds you mentioned and that are under consideration will help alleviate our ICU capacity issues on the “back end” by providing additional step-down beds when ICU patients are ready to transition to a lower level of care. The biggest hurdle to building more beds, including ICU beds, is in identifying the capital funds required for such an expensive undertaking.

Q:  Is there any way possible that a traffic light be installed at the corner of Stadium Drive and West Street?  The traffic between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. is very heavy and it is hard trying to get on to West Street.

A:  Adding a traffic light at the location you mention on West Street would be a question for the City of Jackson. The city would need to do a traffic study to determine the need for an additional light and then identify the funds to install the light.  I’ve asked that this topic be added to our list to discuss with the city when we next meet with their representatives. 

Q:  With the new Workday system under the job listings it states the following: "If you are asked to interview for a UMMC position, your manager will be notified."  Why is this now a requirement?  Many employees inquire about new positions because they are looking to leave a hostile work environment.  Who is this new policy helping if the manager is aware of an interview in another department?  If the employee is not chosen for the new position, they are potentially left with a very upset supervisor.  I believe this policy should be reconsidered.

A:  Our Human Resources team tells me this new feature is a “Workday-delivered best practice” that is meant to foster better communication throughout the process of a current employee seeking to move to a different department in the organization. Among other benefits, this new practice:

  • allows the current manager to reach out to the employee to “re-recruit” them, if desired, in their current role or a modified role,
  • gives the department that may potentially be losing an employee additional lead time in identifying a replacement,
  • enables hiring managers to make more informed decisions by promoting a dialogue with the current manager regarding the performance of the employee, but not in the context of a “surprise” phone call from the hiring manager, and
  • surfaces any issues in the department that may have contributed to the employee’s departure.

We would emphasize that the notification to the current manager only occurs at the interview step of the process, rather than when an internal employee first applies, so it is less disruptive to all concerned.  Ideally, the employee and their current manager would have already been having conversations about the employee’s desire for a change in their role, and the possibility of seeking other positions within the organization.  Of course, that may not be feasible if, as you describe, the manager has taken actions that have contributed to creating a hostile work environment.  In that case, however, you should bring your concerns to Human Resources whether or not you intend to seek employment elsewhere.

Q:  We have awful health care insurance at UMMC. I have worked at other hospitals that pay 90/10 instead of the traditional 80/20 copay and $250 deductibles instead of $1,000. Soft dollars from the hospital are set aside to be rolled over annually into a bucket that can go towards the deductible and so on. Why can't we get better health insurance that works for us?  We can obviously do better and frankly deserve better.

A:  As you know, UMMC employees are members of the State Employees Health Plan, and so the features of the plan that you describe above are beyond the ability of UMMC to modify.  We have had conversations on multiple occasions in the past with the state officials who manage the plan about various initiatives we would like to implement.  Those range from having a better understanding of our employees’ aggregate health data so we can more effectively mount wellness initiatives, to completely moving our employees out of the plan into some alternative insurance arrangement that we have more control over.  To date those conversations have not been fruitful.  We continue to look for avenues to explore this possibility.

Q:  Recently you responded to a question about why UMMC workers did not receive Friday, July 5, as a holiday, since Gov. Bryant declared that heads of state agencies could in their discretion give employees the day off.  You mentioned that shutting down our outpatient operations would not only result in inconvenience for our patients but cost a full day of revenue without offsetting expense reductions.  I did not submit this question, but I think the intent is to ask why those of us in business operations or academic areas (non-clinical) must work while our sister institution colleagues get to take the day off (without entering personal leave).  Employees who are not in patient care departments, specifically those in the education and research arms of UMMC, should be considered. At my previous institution, allowing employees this type of granted time off saved institutional dollars, as business and academic offices were closed and the costs/use of computers and lights (electricity), restrooms and paper products, etc. significantly decreased. I think this question/answer should be addressed as it concerns the thousands (I assume) of employees who are not in the "clinical" setting.

A:  First, I would offer that there are many employees in business operations and other service area units who do need to be here in significant numbers if our clinical enterprise is operating at full throttle.  Secondly, I don’t know that we have any “sister institutions”.  We are not like other state agencies, we are not like the public universities that comprise the Institutions of Higher Learning, we are not like other hospitals.  We have to operate like a business that is, first and foremost, beholden to our patients who are in many cases dependent upon us like no other customer depends on a state agency or a university.  The other factor is that, as much as possible, I prefer to think of us as “One UMMC.”  Our faculty, professional staff, and many of our employees are involved in more than one mission arm of the Medical Center. In the past we have tried differentiating between “essential” and “nonessential” personnel for purposes of severe weather response and that distinction raises a host of issues.  I grant that some organizations, even academic medical centers like ours, may do things differently but over years of experience my judgment is that working under the auspices that we are all essential is the best approach.

Thank you again for all that you do to help us, as One UMMC, keep striving for A Healthier Mississippi.

Follow me on Twitter