Minutes from the Health System Academic Research Employee Council meeting on April 19th, 2001

Attendance: Mary-Leigh Thacker, Trish Reilly, June Wade, Melinda Mason, Pat Harlow, Bonnie Martin, Kanisha Adkins, Karen Rush, Gina Steppe, Lynn McCutcheon, Kathleen Sagarino, Ally Mawyer, Shirley Naylor, Nancy Kriigel, Jim Stork, Nancy Moore, Leigh Ann Bush, Pat Williams, Della Marsh, Jean Snoddy, Carol Merica, Kathleen Foster, Daweslyn Butler-Carey.

Dr. Robert Cantrell was the first to address the council. He wanted to come and address us before resigning from his post on June 30th, 2001. He will be remaining in his position until a replacement is found, which he was hopeful would occur before the end of the year. Dr. Cantrell wanted to convey how much employees are appreciated for their work at UVA. The employees are the backbone that makes UVA the special place that it is. He is also gratified that UVA hospital has been named one of the top 100 hospitals in the country. UVA is one of only 4 on the list of 100 hospital that has both residents and a school of medicine associated with it. His emphasis for the Health System is that it should be a place where we deliver kind and compassionate care, an aspect that should carry over to all of the hospital including the medical school and the research. People are driving hours from southwestern Virginia in order to see doctors at UVA and we should be able to see them in a reasonable amount of time and allow them to see all the doctors they need to see within that same visit.

When Dr. Cantrell was the director of ambulatory care, he had a list of 25 ways to improve patient care. Among the goals he set :

  • clear signs to direct people to the hospital from the interstate
  • parking nearby for patients
  • clear directions inside hospital
  • receptionists who are kind and helpful
  • a real person answering the phone in the clinics-no voice mail
  • caring physicians
  • patients being treated in a manner that you would like to be treated

We have come a long way towards achieving these goals.

The past seven years has been one of the most trying times in the history of medicine with the high cost of health care and the advent of managed care. It is ironic that the government spends billions of dollars developing new medicine some of which were not covered by insurance because of their cost. The country is still in need of a way to insure the millions who currently have no health insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid. There have been large reductions in the reimbursement of indigent care from the state over the years. The state currently reimburses only a portion of the cost of indigent care. In 1998 over half of the medical centers in the country were in the red. It has been difficult but UVA has been able to stay in the black. The current budget impasse will affect the Health System greatly. Since 1995, 900,000 square feet of space has been added to the Health System during which time the only state funding the Health System received was $14 million for Jordan addition and $5 million for the library renovation. The rest of the expansion was paid for with donations and from research overhead. Because so little support has been given, some improvements have suffered. There are plans to build more parking nearby but there is no money to fund this. MR5 will help the research space crunch but MR6 is still needed, and unless the governor and the general assembly agree upon a budget, the building will not be started this year.

Dr. Cantrell next answered questions from the council:

  • Dr. Cantrell addressed the combination of Dean of the Medical School and the postion of VP and Chief Medical Officer. In the years he has been at his position, he has pulled all groups involved in delivering patient care into the Health System because with managed care, it is important to be able to integrate everyone so they are working towards the same goal. One department is very much affected by the others. In November of 1999 the decision was made to have the hospital report to Leonard Sandridge (VP of the University and CFO) which took some of the work load away from Dr. Cantrell's current position making the combined position a feasible alternative.
  • He next addressed the disparity that exists between the employees of the medical center and school of medicine. Differences between the two exists in both salaries and benefit packages. It was necessary to obtain codified autonomy over the medical center a few years back in order to remain competitive and financially sound. The benefits package is very different for the agency 207 and 209 employees but currently there is no way to lessen the disparities due to the tight financial situation. The agency 209 employees still have better benefits than much of the private sector.

Mr. Kennan was the next to address the council. He made a correction in the March minutes concerning the funding for the MR6 building. The fundraising for that building is ongoing. On March 22nd the Health Affairs Committee met. The meeting centered upon the medical center's finances which is currently running at +3.8% (the goal is +4.6%). The most pressing issue still is the nursing shortage. 47 nurses are lined up to begin work in the summer which will help lessen the need but many more nurses are still needed. There is a new member on the Health Affairs Committee, Thomas A Saunder III who is a Darden grad and a VMI grad. April 13th was the 100th anniversary of the Nursing school. The school has a colorful history. The Hospital Centennial celebration has its first event on June 3rd when 2 time capsules will be opened from 1958 and 1985 and the CMC telethon will be going on. There is also going to be a Centennial Football Game on Nov 3rd against Wake Forest. The president had his State of the University address recently. He addressed the success of the School of Nursing and the great success of the Medical School students in the resident matching program.

Bill Vining was the next to address the council. A special session of the General Assembly has been called for May. We will see if they get to address the budget issues. The nominations are in for the service awards and are being reviewed. The travel committee met on Monday and drafts of the upcoming trips are being made. The trips are tenatively:

  • Fall 2001- Munich/Bavarian Alps
  • Spring 2002-Barcelona, Spain
  • Fall 2002-Athens with an extension available for a Greek Isle Cruise

The price is as always $899/ person. The fliers will be available soon.

A new Vice President of Finance has been hired by the university, Yoke San Reynolds (for more information see Inside UVA). She will be overseeing the departments of human resources, finance, business operations, and risk management. The service awards are coming up. The 10, 15, and 20 year employees are being recognized on May 22nd at Old Cabell Hall while the 25-45 year employees are recognized on June 6th along with the outstanding employee awards. A new state initiated program called Virginia Public Service Week is beginning this year with each agency nominating their best employees for awards. They are also looking for ambassadors to go to the May 8th program to support the nominees. If you would like to go to Richmond to the program, let Bill Vining know ASAP. The Give Air a Break Program is going to take pledges this year for people to use an alternative means of transportation throughout the year. Fliers will be put up in each department asking for your participation. Great prizes are available which will be awarded at the May 2nd program on the downtown mall. All pledges need to be turned in by April 30th by fax to Bill Vining.

The council needs to form a nominating committee to find volunteers to be officers next year. Pat Williams and Jim Stork volunteered to form the committee.

New Business: The compensation plan was brought up. Bill Vining mentioned that managers will soon have an opportunity to give bonuses. Funding for the bonuses and in-range adjustments is still a concern. HR has held off on training for the new evaluation system, since raises have not been approved by the General Assembly. Since staff will be evaluated on the standards that were set last year, training can occur this summer. Supervisors and employees will jointly set standards for next year.

Old Business: An outstanding parking issue is that there are still no straps on the UVA buses. The straps were requested over 2 years ago, and per P&T, would be ordered. Jim Kennan said he would follow up on those. Jim also stated that when a new field house is built for UVA, the design will incorporate new parking. This parking will be low cost and available for employees during the workday. The challenge then will be getting employees from parking to the workplace. He stated that MR5 and MR6 will be a decompression of people that are already here. Eventually, there will be 600 additional parking spots in that area. Parking is part of the overall planning for that precinct.

The minutes for the March meeting were approved, and the meeting was adjourned.