VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, January 4, 2019

Nearly Four Years Later, We Press On

Good morning and, once again, Happy New Year!  I’m excited and optimistic about what 2019 may hold for UMMC.

vc_Jan_4_Clinical_Trials.jpgWhen I was a candidate for the vice chancellor position at UMMC, I was asked to submit a statement of my vision for the future of the Medical Center.  Aware that on March 1 I will be starting my fifth year in this role – a bit shocking to me! – I reviewed that document during the holidays.  I wanted to see how well the vision presented four years ago aligns with how events have actually unfolded.

Generally speaking, we are still on the path I described.  Some of the key points include:

  • We’ve made progress in building the expertise we need in finance and business, and the systems that support these functions, but we still have work to do.
  • We’ve established a School of Population Health, aided by a generous gift from the Bower Foundation.
  • Research growth has been strong from the standpoints of funding, program development and partnerships, particularly with our Mayo Clinic relationship.
  • In the clinical mission, we’ve continued extending our subspecialty pediatrics services to other parts of the state, and the expansion of our inpatient and outpatient children’s facilities is readily apparent on the southern part of campus.
  • We remain confronted with capacity challenges for adult services, but many of the anticipated “fixes” are either near fruition or in some stage of development.
  • We have continued to grow our capabilities in complex services, particularly in transplant, trauma and children’s heart services. I have also touched on the need for continued development of our Cancer Institute, especially through our Mayo Clinic partnership.  
  • Supported by a first-of-its-kind exchange of patient data and other collaborative efforts, our partnership with Medicaid is stronger than ever.
  • Through our version of the CIA (Clinical Informatics and Analytics), the Enterprise Data Warehouse, the Epic health record and other initiatives, we have made good strides in health care data management.
  • Through affiliations on the Gulf Coast, Meridian, Oktibbeha County and Hattiesburg – along with existing relationships and others in the pipeline – we have developed strategic partnerships across the state.

One of the areas I mentioned only in passing was clinical quality improvement, yet that imperative has taken on even greater importance and urgency in the last four years.  There’s no question that the recruitment of Dr. Michael Henderson (he started about the same time I did) to lead these efforts and the program he has put in place have been a game changer in this area.

Since the development of the 2015-2020 UMMC strategic plan, we have distilled our goals into five strategic priorities.  They include:

  • Clinical quality improvement
  • Platforms for collaboration with other hospitals and health systems
  • Expansion of children’s services and complex tertiary and quaternary services
  • Development of our collaborative research activities with the Mayo Clinic
  • Strategic growth of our educational programs based on workforce needs

These are still a strong set of priorities that capture many of our activities, but I would add a sixth:  the elevation of our standard of customer service, including to our internal customers.

In 2014, I ended my statement by noting that the vision I outlined represented “a tall order,” especially in light of the changing landscape for health care and our other missions today.  I wrote:

“We will not be successful with every attempt.  We are tasked with difficult problems that will require resourcefulness, resilience and persistence.  The following quote by Calvin Coolidge has long served as inspiration for me: 

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” 

I’m pleased with what we’ve accomplished during these last nearly four years.  On the list I outlined in that original vision statement, more has been done than has been left undone.  And above all, we’ve never stopped pressing on together to achieve A Healthier Mississippi.


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