Can you believe it’s the last day of May? The first five months of the year have flown by and summer is once again upon us. I’m afraid it’s shaping up to be a hot one.
Since it’s the last Friday of the month, today I’ll answer some of your questions. As a reminder, I review all the questions and comments you submit to VC Notes and appreciate all of them. I’m not able to respond to them all here, but I pass the rest along to senior administrators for their review and possible action.
So without further delay, let’s get to your questions.
Q: Is there any way possible to move the sign in between the Office Annex and the Translational Research Center? I've witnessed people almost having accidents due to them not being able to see around the sign. When someone turns the corner from the main entrance it's hard to see the vehicle before almost having a collision.
A: I am familiar with the sign you are talking about: The dark blue directional sign on the corner of Alumni Drive and Central University Drive. I make that turn every day coming to work. The sign doesn’t completely obscure the driver’s view coming toward the “T” intersection from the west or the north, but I agree it’s not ideally located, especially since Alumni Drive has become more of a campus thoroughfare recently. I have developed the habit of pulling to a stop before the sign obstructs my view, but visitors on our campus would not be prepared to do that. I’ll ask our signage/safety experts to evaluate it and make a recommendation.
Q: What are the plans for the Employee Engagement Survey this year? I have not seen any mention of it in campus media.
A: I’m glad you asked that question because we have recently made the decision to move to a different cadence in offering the Employee Engagement Survey. You may remember that we have offered this survey, along with the Culture of Safety Survey, to employees for the last three years. We’ve learned a lot with each administration, and after each survey, teams of employees have worked hard to address some of the major findings that appear to be opportunities for greater employee engagement and adoption of a culture of safety. Along with making organization-wide improvements, our managers have been able to take the results for their units and develop action plans for improved performance. As a result, our participation rate, aggregate engagement and safety scores have increased each year we have surveyed. What we recently decided is that an annual administration of the survey is not optimal, for a number of reasons. The scores don’t change much during a 12-month period. And when we get the results – usually about two months after the survey has completed – there isn’t much time to implement meaningful changes that will make a real difference in the time left before the next survey. Finally, administration of the surveys comes with a cost and requires a significant commitment of staff time, both before and after the surveys. For those reasons, we will move to an interval of between 18 and 20 months.
I do want to emphasize that this change in no way diminishes our commitment to making changes that positively impact the engagement of our employees or our dedication to the development of a culture of patient safety. Those remain top priorities. We have learned so much from your honest feedback on these surveys and have made important changes based on that feedback. One that came to my attention recently is the move to same-day patient scheduling at our Family Medicine clinics. This is such a wonderful benefit to our employees and I applaud our Family Medicine team for taking this on in response to employee input. Even though our surveys will not be as frequent, there continue to be any number of ways you can provide feedback to help us improve, including through the Virtual Suggestion Box, our monthly Coffee Talk sessions and VC Notes, to name a few.
Q: As a staff member, I was told that students are not legally allowed to help transfer patients from wheelchairs to stretchers. Since I have never heard this before, I started to ask around. The majority of people I had asked have never heard of this. Some said they may help as long as there is a staff member present and very few responded that it depends on the type of student. So my question is: Would an occupational therapy student be allowed to help move a patient, or is it illegal? Are there any other important restrictions on students that all staff members should know about?
A: I am not aware of any rules that would prevent any students from assisting staff with a patient transfer from a wheelchair to a stretcher or a similar physical transfer. On the contrary, I would think it would be useful for students to learn the proper technique for making these kinds of transfers. My one caveat would be to make sure that all personnel involved have assumed the proper posture to avoid straining their backs, especially with heavier patients. I checked with a couple of senior academicians on this question and they concur.
Q: I love checking the Kudos Blog weekly to see if any of the employees in my department have been added. I was wondering if there is something like that but with the patients' compliments instead?
A: My understanding is that the only formal recognition we have that primarily features patient compliments are the Daisy Awards, which I believe are limited to nurses. Recipients of the award are featured in People of the U, among other places, and that recognition includes information drawn from the patient’s nomination, though it is summarized and deidentified to protect patient privacy. For those who don’t know, the Kudos Blog for the most part consists of actual nominations for the awards which we present to employees “for going above and beyond the call of duty.” These recognitions have recently been rebranded as the True Blue Awards. All of our awards, along with the Virtual Suggestion Box, are showcased on a new website to give them enhanced visibility. For technical reasons that I won’t go into here, the actual nominations (the Kudos Blog) are not currently visible but they should be back online this summer. Again, my understanding is we will not be publishing patient nominations in a similar format for privacy reasons.
Q: Why aren't there consistent callback policies for the Ambulatory Clinics? I've had two friends recently call different ambulatory clinics they were patients at to speak to nurses regarding emergencies - allergic reactions/severe illness - and neither were called back within a three-day period. Both ended up in an ER. Not here, because they didn't feel like they were being cared for. Shouldn't there be a policy in place to call back patients in a timely manner based on emergency/non-emergency? I would love to keep business at UMMC, and to know patients’ concerns are met.
A: You have not indicated which or what type of clinics were called, so it’s harder to develop a precise answer. I checked with our clinic administrators and they said we have a policy of returning non-urgent patient calls within two days. We’ll take your friends’ word for it and concede that we did not live up to their expectations and our own commitment in these instances. I will say that in emergency situations – and from what you say it sounds like your friends considered themselves to be experiencing emergencies – it would not be ideal to call a subspecialty clinic but rather to go to the Emergency Department or an urgent care provider. The voice prompts on our telephone triage system instruct callers to that effect. In any case, we want to be as responsive as we can reasonably be to all of those who need us. If the two individuals mentioned above would let us know what clinics they tried to reach, we can learn if there are particular problems that need to be addressed.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for all your questions. Your input is so important in our quest to continuously improve, as we all make our way to A Heathier Mississippi.