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Currents, Nov. 18

To Medical Center Employees:
At the Nov. 18 management communications meeting Steve Hargett, controller, gave an update on MUHA’s financial status and discussed work under way to review cost savings ideas, as highlighted below.
As a result of our increased census and efforts to operate more efficiently, MUHA had a net “profit” of approximately $812,000 for October. While we remain in the red for fiscal year (FY) 08/09 to date by $7.8 million, October was a good month.
Our days cash on hand at the end of October was 9.2. We project having only four days cash on hand at the end of November, in part due to the recent purchase of an MRI which was approved in the FY 06/07 capital budget. Our FY 08/09 goal calls for 18 days cash on hand.
A cost savings ideas survey was conducted from Sept. 26 to Oct. 17. Hargett reported the Cost Savings Committee has been reviewing more than 500 responses including more than 700 ideas. The committee is prioritizing and taking action to implement as many ideas as practical. Some ideas, such as closing of CMH and reduction of travelers, have already been implemented or are in the process of implementation. Hargett told the management team that periodic updates will be given on progress.
As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, I want to thank everyone for your dedicated work to provide high quality and compassionate care and service. We are in the midst of challenging times, but due to everyone’s efforts we are making progress. Thanks to all for your support.

W. Stuart Smith
Vice President for Clinical Operations
and Executive Director, MUSC Medical Center

People—Fostering employee pride and loyalty
Janis Newton, program director at the Harper Student Wellness Center, reviewed details about the upcoming 2009 MUSC Healthy Charleston Challenge. This is the third consecutive challenge program since its inaugural session in January.
The first Challenge group lost a total of 1,500.6 pounds within a 12-week fitness and weight loss program. The second Challenge will end Nov. 20 and is expected to yield similar successful results. According to Newton, the program works, because results have been amazing. Within this past year, organizers have worked hard to create a formula for success in a program that promotes camaraderie, teamwork, competition, nutrition, psychology, and exercise physiology.
Participants receive a Wellness Center membership throughout the program. Applicants must be 25-plus pounds overweight and ready to commit to a weight loss through lifestyle change that lowers the risk for developing chronic disease. Newton challenged MUHA employees to form and create their own hospital teams. The 2009 Challenge will include 10 teams of eight participants. Fall Healthy Challenge participants Tom Hubbard, Laurie Zone-Smith, Wendy McDonald, and Cindy Abole spoke about their personal journey and successes throughout this program. Registration deadline is Dec. 10.
Register at

Finance—Providing the highest value to patients while ensuring financial stability
Steve Hargett, medical center controller, pre-sented the quarterly finance report for four months ending October.
The numbers represent actuals compared to the budget and same period in 2007. Hargett emphasized that this report doesn’t adequately tell the story of the hard work and commitment of MUHA employees to improve the hospital’s financial performance. Despite the economic picture, October was busy and reflected a profit of $812,000. Average census during this period was 522 patients per day, volume indicators were up in areas such as inpatient/outpatient surgeries, transplants, ER visits, etc.
According to Hargett, hospital staff has done an incredible job of controlling staffing costs and productivity numbers. MUHA has managed this activity with salary costs being only about $100,000 more than they had been averaging prior to that.
“When all of us put our minds to it, we really can control salary and supply costs,” Hargett said. “There’s been a lot of hard work by everyone.”
A big part of this reduction of salary costs comes from the elimination of traveler staff (now down from 200 to 30 people). MUHA is planning to implement another $22 million of initiatives by January. Once established, MUHA should end the year with a $2 million profit, after starting the 2009 losing $9 million in the first three months.
Cash on hand continues to improve. As of the end of October, cash on hand was $22 million or nine days. Recent expenses have reduced current cash on hand. Hargett believes cash will continue to improve as additional initiatives are established.
November activity is expected to taper off due to the upcoming holidays. Meanwhile, Hargett encouraged staff to remain diligent and continue monitoring expenses and staffing.

Service—Serving the public with compassion, respect and excellence
Dennis Frazier, administrator for facilities and capitol planning, reviewed current activity related to the CMH shutdown. Schedule is as follows: As of Nov. 14, the newly expanded Peds ED completed DHEC inspection; Nov. 18, 7East moved to 9West; Nov. 19, DHEC licensure will occur for 9West, 10West, Peds ED; Nov. 24, move and opening of current Peds ED to new location. At the same time, the CMH ED will be relocated to main hospital; and Nov. 25, move of TCU to 2C.
Frazier reminded staff that patients may still access the new Peds ED using the drop-off, street-level entrance on Jonathan Lucas Street .


  • MUHA administration has reviewed HR Policy #A-04 relating to staff wearing holiday scrub tops during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Holiday scrub tops may be worn, along with their regular scrub color bottoms. There are some restrictions as to what can be worn and permissible attire.
  • The next meeting is Nov. 25.

Friday, Nov. 21, 2008

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