Answering the Call for Blood (and Other Topics)
Today I’ll cover a number of topics, starting with our two-day, emergency blood drive earlier this week. I want to give a big THANK YOU to the 101 people who turned out to donate blood during the drive. Of that number, 89 were eligible to donate. Mississippi Blood Services is experiencing an acute shortage this month, and that can potentially impact our ability to give transfusions and perform some surgical procedures. Our recent change in policy that grants employees an hour of “donor leave” during their regular workday to donate is certainly a boon to blood collection. Other than student-driven blood drives in August, this weeks donation is the most during a two-day period since 2012. That's a great start, but we expect the shortage to continue. Be on the lookout for future opportunities to donate. If you visit Mississippi Blood Services to donate, make sure you let them know you are with UMMC. In the meantime, once again, thank you.
On a related matter, our hospitals, operating rooms and critical care units continue to be extremely busy with an unprecedented high census this week. Indeed, all metro area hospitals are experiencing similar conditions, which magnifies the problem in terms of managing incoming emergency patients. We are working with the other hospitals to deal with this unusually high demand. In the meantime, we ask for your patience and support as we accommodate the needs of our patients and families. Thank you to our clinical leaders, environmental services personnel, nurses, doctors and all our caregivers who have gone the extra mile this week for our patients. Times like these are trying for all concerned.
Yesterday we held our annual luncheon celebrating the Barksdale Scholars, but the occasion was more auspicious than usual. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the scholarships by the Barksdale family, led by Jim and Donna Barksdale. These scholarships are the most prestigious offered by UMMC to attend the School of Medicine. Over 20 years, the cumulative total of their commitment amounts to more than $17 million! In that same span, the scholarships have funded the medical education of 86 scholars, including a significant number of African-American students. The totals include 20 students currently in medical school, 22 trainees in residencies and fellowships, and 44 practicing physicians. Scholarships like these are so important in distinguishing UMMC and its commitment to excellence, and I simply can’t thank the Barksdales enough for their generous support over two decades.
The Mississippi Legislature convened for its 2019 session Tuesday. UMMC has a number of requests in place, chief among them the final installment of $12 million in bonds to support the expansion of our children’s services. With the start of the session, I want to give my annual reminder that only the vice chancellor or those designated by me may represent the Medical Center at the Legislature. Some of you may interact with legislators in your roles with various advocacy groups in the state and that’s fine, but please be mindful not to wear your “UMMC hat” during those activities or discuss UMMC business. If you have questions about this please contact my office. I appreciate it.
Finally, I was thrilled yesterday when Century Club Charities announced a record donation of $1.25 million to Friends of Children’s Hospital, proceeds from the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament. It’s the fifth consecutive year the total donation has set a record. The gift will go toward Friends’ pledge to raise $20 million for the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, the philanthropic effort that’s helping fund the $180 million pediatric expansion at UMMC. The total of private funds has now reached $70 million, so we’re more than two-thirds of the way toward our goal of $100 million! I’m so thankful for Friends, Century Club Charities, Sanderson Farms and our campaign chairs Joe and Kathy Sanderson for their generosity and unwavering commitment to the children of Mississippi.
And I’m grateful for all you continue to do as you teach our students, seek new knowledge, and care for our patients and each other, as we all strive for A Healthier Mississippi.