It’s the last Friday of the month, so today I’ll answer your questions.
Before I do that, I want to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Michael Ryan, professor of physiology and biophysics, who received the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s Diversity Educator of the Year Award yesterday. Largely through Mike’s leadership, our School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences and its programs are more diverse and inclusive than ever before. He is a remarkable role model for young and aspiring scientists from all backgrounds, and I was thrilled to learn he had been chosen for this honor. (You can read more about Mike and his award in Monday’s eCV.)
Now, on to your questions.
As a reminder, I read all your questions and comments and appreciate all of them. I’m only able to respond to a few of them here, but I send the rest to senior administrators for their review and possible action. Please continue sharing with me what’s on your mind.
Q: When water fountains throughout the hospital are replaced, can we add the ones with bottle filling capacity? A lot of employees and students would like to drink more water and that would make it easier for all of us to do so.
A: I began receiving requests from students through VC Notes for bottle-filling water stations about two years ago. Since then, I’m pleased to report these fountains have been added at the Medical Education Building (first floor near the student lounge); outside classroom R153 (lower amphitheater); in the School of Health Related Professions (second-floor elevator lobby); in the North Wing (fourth- and seventh-floor elevator lobbies); and in the School of Nursing (near A120). The School of Dentistry was an early adopter and installed theirs on the first floor, South hallway. Our initial focus has been on accommodating students. I’m told by Physical Facilities that as older water fountains are retired throughout campus, they will be replaced with the bottle-filling water fountains. This is one step to promote wellness and a “greener campus” overall.
Q: Could you please share the institution's plan for sustaining the new Batson's Children's Hospital once construction is complete? It seems as though there will be a significant increase in the cost required to appropriately staff and run such a large building. With the institution's operating expenses greater than our current increase in revenue, how will this expansion play into the budget?
A: I asked Dr. Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi, to weigh in on this. His response: The main purpose for building the Children’s expansion is to significantly grow the number of patients to whom we provide care. For example, we have difficulty adding additional surgeons because we have no additional rooms for them to operate in, and we have limited clinic space to add new specialists. Also, we lose referrals to other NICUs that have private rooms. Those are a few of many examples. Ultimately, we expect revenue from additional patients to cover the costs of building and operating the new facility. The other reason for the expansion is because we are undersized relative to the volume of children to whom we provide care. Our treated-patient-to-space ratio is about 2 ½-to-3 ½ times smaller than other children’s hospitals in surrounding states. Lastly, although we will move into a large building that will help us become the “right size” for the care we provide, we will add the appropriate number of caregivers (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.) and staff as we grow our patient numbers.
Q: Would you please share your recommendations for keeping up-to-date with campus activities and/or employee participation opportunities across ALL mission areas? For example, I would have loved to have participated in the Wear Red Day but didn’t know about it. The UMMC People of the U Facebook page is filled with pictures of different areas showing off their red (even your office). I follow several UMMC-sponsored Facebook pages and routinely learn about past events. I’d just like the opportunity to be a part of future events.
A: I agree that it can be difficult to keep up with all that is going on, mainly because there’s so much. A prime source of information for our UMMC community is the Intranet news scroll of upcoming activities. Unfortunately, not every event or celebration is highlighted. I expect the photos of employees wearing red were more the result of the office “grapevine” than any formal announcement. The good news is that our staff in Web Services and Public Affairs have begun planning a new and improved Intranet site that will provide much greater opportunity to showcase news and happenings of interest to our faculty, staff and students. Look for an unveiling sometime this summer.
Q: I was wondering if a child care facility is something that UMMC is willing to offer to its employees. I think this would be a great thing for those who have small kids and find it difficult to get child care while working. I think a facility inside or near the campus would be an excellent idea and would be appreciated by the staff.
A: This is a request I hear frequently through VC Notes and in other venues. I completely understand that faculty, staff, students and trainees with young children would like to have them in close proximity to their workplace. A few years ago we were prepared to engage in a feasibility assessment and had to delay that due to budget constraints at the time. The costs of such an assessment and the administrative resources necessary to support the effort have been barriers. I know this is important and want you to know that we do plan to explore a child care partnership and/or facility option when feasible. I look forward to the time when we can invest in the assessment and consideration of such a benefit.
Q: I am a UMMC employee and a few weeks back I lost my watch. I asked at the front information desk and at the police front desk in the hospital, but no one could help me. Does UMMC not have a Lost and Found? Hundreds of people come through the hospital on a daily basis and I know that items are accidently left behind. Where do they go to find them? I am happy to report that a wonderful UMMC employee found my watch and was able to return it, because I posted LOST posters all over the hospital. But patients and visitors can't do this! Please help solve this problem.
A: I’m glad you found your watch! And I’m glad you asked this question in VC Notes because I don’t think it is well known that we DO have a Lost and Found overseen by Campus Police. It’s in the department’s Alumni House headquarters, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. This is a useful service, so I hope the word gets shared with those who’ve lost valuable items and those who find them.
Thank you for submitting your questions and thanks to all of you for reading and responding to VC Notes. Communication is key in so much of what we do and how we all work together for A Healthier Mississippi.