|MUSC Rumor Mill separates fact from fiction
Bee Street parking
In June, employees received an e-mail from Stuart Smith stating the
following: In an effort to recognize the competitiveness of the local
health care market, MUSC medical center is pleased to be able to offer
discounted parking for its employees who are in the MUSC parking
system. When the Bee Street Garage opens in the fall, medical center
employees who park in the MUSC parking system will see their parking
rate lowered by one-half the routine charge (example: if the normal
rate is $55 per month, you will only pay $27.50 per month). Recently I
was offered a spot in the new Bee Street Garage, but the price quoted
to me was $55 a month, not $27.50. Which is correct?
is no change in the e-mail statement that Stuart Smith distributed last
June. Medical center employees who park in the MUSC parking system will
see their parking rates lowered by one-half the routine charge. This
should be reflected in the check employees receive Nov. 5.
Medical center financial concerns, morale issues
The Rumor Mill has received a number of rumors dealing with the
financial issues of the medical center and related concerns such as
staffing and patient care. These issues are addressed below.
In recent weeks there has been considerable focus on addressing nursing
staffing to match the staffing levels with patient care needs. Staffing
levels sought are aligned with best practices for high quality care.
Cost-containment efforts are not being focused only on clinical
staffing. Currently, work is under way to focus on all opportunities
for cost containment throughout the medical center, including
administrative and support areas. Work is being done to standardize
various functions and achieve economies of scale. Some staff may be
reassigned to other areas needing help. Travel nurses will be replaced
with regular employees. Cost-savings opportunities related to supplies
and contracts are being carefully examined. Work is also under way to
expand patient capacity by freeing up some space in Ashley River Tower
for patients currently cared for in University Hospital (UH). Also, as
renovation is completed in UH, additional beds will come on line. By
methodically investigating and implementing cost containment methods,
growing patient capacity and by assigning staff to areas of need,
employment opportunities and growth will be preserved. The medical
center will emerge as a stronger organization. Additional information
will be issued in the days and weeks ahead.
Are managers allowed to tell their employees they cannot leave the office for their lunch breaks?
Policy 29 states that employees who work a shift of at least five hours
will have a 30-minute meal period automatically deducted. The authority
strictly adheres to issues involving the Fair Labor Standards ACT
including the proper payment to employees who work through their
assigned lunch period. In order to be paid properly, employees who work
during a lunch period should follow departmental procedures regarding
Can you clarify MUHA’s policy on nepotism? There is a father/daughter combo working in our unit.
HR Nepotism Policy # 7 states that employees may not supervise a family
member or serve in the chain of command concerning employment matters
of a family member. This policy is located on the medical center
intranet. For information, contact MUHA Human Resources at
Fire alarm drill at ART
I’ve heard the fire alarm drill at ART. Why does this have to occur at 6:30 a.m. during change of shift? Answer:
Alarms always disrupt patient care by the noise of the alarm and the
movement of staff in response. Whether real or a drill, they can be
annoying to areas not impacted by the alarm. We don’t pick shift
changes or target any specific time to test. The sheer number of tests
required means we will be testing at all hours of the day, night and
weekends. The medical center has literally thousands of devices that
require testing and monitoring so that when the need comes, our
patients, visitors, and staff will be safe and protected. Many of the
tests are required by Joint Commission, both to train teams to respond
and to actually test the operation of the alarm device, to hear the
sound and see the strobes. In recent months, ART testing has been more
frequent, because it is a new building and initial testing requirements
are large in number. That higher than normal frequency of ART testing
is now tapering off.
How safe is our retirement plan, life insurance, etc., in light of recent national financial events?
of you are probably concerned about the current situation in the
financial markets and how this may affect your retirement benefits. One
of the advantages that pension plans like the South Carolina Retirement
System (SCRS) or the Police Officers Retirement System (PORS) have over
401k type plans is that individual participants do not shoulder the
investment risk. This is the responsibility of the S.C. Retirement
System. SCRS has demonstrated an ability to prudently manage its assets
during the last 60 years and it does this by employing very long-term
investment time horizons. So, while the financial markets are currently
experiencing significant volatility, the assets of the retirement
systems are invested in a broadly diversified manner to help mitigate
risks. Furthermore, as a member of the SCRS or the PORS, your benefits
are protected, because they are defined by state statute and are not
dependent on an individual account balance or investment returns.
Parking for Roper?
I heard that about 700 county garage spots are being moved to Bee
Street Garage to make room for 700 Roper employee spots. I’ve been on
the county garage waiting list for years and I think I should be
offered a spot before a Roper employee.
To directly address your question, no MUSC employees are being moved
out of the Courtenay garage to make room for Roper. However, 160 MUSC
students are being moved to the Bee Street Garage. This will make more
room in the Courtenay garage for additional parking support needed for
I heard that because nurses were being sent home for low census they
would lose their insurance benefits for not meeting their hours. Is
Eligibility to receive state insurance benefits at the medical center
is extended to those employees who are formally scheduled to work at
least 30 hours per week (60 each pay period) in a permanent position.
If, due to low census, an employee doesn’t work the minimum 60 hours in
a given pay period, he or she will generally be given the option to
either use paid time off or take the time as leave without pay. In
either situation, the employee’s formally-scheduled hours have not been
changed and they would therefore retain their benefits eligibility
Administrative pay raises
There is a rumor that administration, in spite of MUSC's rather dire circumstances, are getting a 10 percent raise.
Answer: Administrators will not get a raise.
Is it true that MUSC/MUHA administrators took a dinner cruise after the announcement that there would be no merit raises?
This is not true. The truth is that Jerry Reves, M.D., dean, College of
Medicine, wanted to thank nine staff members who had helped organize
the recent universitywide Leadership Development Institute. In an
effort to show his appreciation for their hard work, he invited them
for a brief harbor cruise after work on his boat at his own expense.
This was an effort by the dean to thank this institutionwide group for
their work on a successful project.
MUSC paid the Linda Ketner for Congress campaign $8,300 per
Congresspedia Web page. She is on the board of directors for Hollings
Cancer Center. Why, when the MUSC is short on funds as per Stuart
Smith, are funds being given to campaigns? Is this a conflict of
MUSC does not make contributions to political campaigns. The Web site
you refer to indicates that contributions are grouped according to the
place of employment of the contributor. In this case, contributions
attributed to MUSC are actually from individuals who work at MUSC who
have contributed their personal funds to this campaign. While this
candidate was on one of our advisory boards at one time, she no longer
is on that board.
I heard that in the near future, there is the possibility that MUSC
will have to close its doors and no longer function as a hospital.
Granted I do not expect this to happen in the next few weeks nor
months, but I would like to know if this could very much happen. I know
you do not want to frighten employees, students, etc... however I feel
we should at least be prepared. A group in the cafeteria today said
MUSC has enough money to “pay the bills” for two more months. After
that, payroll will not be met.
Medical Center will continue to keep its doors open and fulfill the
mission. It is true that we are currently dealing with difficult
financial challenges, similar to other hospitals. We are implementing a
number of initiatives for cost control and operational efficiency.
Understandably some initiatives have not or will not be well received.
We hope to do a better job in communicating that what’s good for the
financial success of the organization is good for its employees. While
we are having financial challenges now, the leadership team is
convinced that we will become a stronger organization as a result of
our current cost control efforts. To answer your question, you can
expect that with the support of everyone we will successfully resolve
our financial issues and thrive in the future.
How often do you post answers to the rumor mill? I find the information helpful.
are posted as quickly as possible after a response is received by the
Rumor Mill. There is not a specific schedule for posting answers.
Medical spending account
What happens with medical spending account money? I heard that when
someone tried to cash their refund check from MUSC it bounced.
After contributions to medical spending accounts are deducted from
employees’ pay checks, they are then sent to the company contracted by
the state to manage the program, FBMC. Claims are then processed
through FBMC who cuts the checks and either mails them or direct
deposits them to the claimants’ bank accounts. Both EIP (the state
insurance agency) and FBMC have been notified about this and we
appreciate your bringing it to our attention along with the fact that
they made good on the check. While FBMC was apologetic about the
inconvenience this caused, they have assured us that this was a
function of their accounting system rather than their inability to pay
claims. Essentially, they transmit a list of claimants to be paid
including an authorization to pay only the aggregate amount of all
claims. In this case, there was an administrative error resulting in
the aggregate amount being less than the total of all claims.
Layoffs in January
I heard that there are going to be layoffs in January and others will
be asked to cut back to 32 hours and start coming in later and leave
early so we could have some kind of coverage.
number of cost savings initiatives are underway. You may have seen
President Ray Greenberg’s comments in a recent Post & Courier
article indicating a principle driving force in decision making is to
protect jobs, but we do not have a crystal ball. At this time we are
focusing upon improvements in operational efficiency, attrition and
reassignment of staff resources as the mechanisms to reduce and control
costs. A number of initiatives are also under way to enhance revenue.
State or not
I work in Ashley River Tower and was wondering if MUSC is
considered a state hospital or not. My reason for this is that I don't
receive full state benefits.
Answer: For purposes of insurance and retirement benefits, the medical center is a state agency.
Leadership Development Institute (LDI)
Given the financial status of MUSC, will MUHA be holding the November LDI for the leadership group?
Answer: In an effort to reduce costs, the November LDI for MUHA will be held on the MUSC campus with an abbreviated schedule.
Do you anticipate that payroll will be only partial as the university has financial problems?
There is no plan to reduce worked hours at this time. MUHA’s primary
focus is to preserve employment. However, MUHA will need to continue to
explore cost-cutting opportunities, and reduction of hours worked could
be a consideration for some areas.
How can we afford a new building, a 14,000-square-foot building (Drug
Discovery Building) when there is a hiring freeze and other budgets
cuts around MUSC?
Both the Drug Discovery building and the Bio-Engineering building have
been funded by state and federal dollars that were specifically
designated for construction of these two research facilities. The
state’s other research universities, Clemson and University of South
Carolina, also received like funding for their capital expenditures
related to research. These capital dollars can only be used for the
sole purpose described above. They cannot be used by MUSC or MUHA for
I am a registered nurse, and recently a new rumor circulated our floor.
The rumor is that the hospital will no longer pay for education. Is
this rumor true?
Currently, the medical center administrative team is examining all
opportunities to reduce costs and protect employment. Special bonus and
incentive plans are being methodically examined and prioritized. No
firm decisions have been reached. Anticipated or planned changes to any
special plans will be discussed at the town hall meetings, managers
communication meetings and in other forums.
Transitional Care Unit (TCU)
Is it true that TCU is moving from Charleston Memorial Hospital to the
main hospital? Is it true that all physician assistants are going to be
Currently a wide variety of opportunities to improve operational
efficiency and achieve cost savings are being examined. In the case of
moving programs or services, there are many factors that must be
considered as the overall goal is to continue to provide quality
patient care and to preserve jobs. It is not true that all physician
assistants are being laid off.
Yearly Employee Support Campaign (YES)
Why is MUSC wasting money on printing costs and manpower for the YES
Campaign? We employees have already been told that we will not get
raises and that some of us may be laid off, yet MUSC has the nerve to
waste all that money trying to get us to give up some of what little
money we have. I am deeply offended by this and are many other
employees. I suggest that MUSC skip the entire YES Campaign during
these rough financial times and resume it at some point in the future
when things are more stable.
Your feelings are understandable and the timing of the annual YES
Campaign is always a challenge. As you know, the YES Campaign is 100
percent voluntary and serves to benefit patients and programs right
here on campus. Given the mandated budget cuts from the South Carolina
Legislature, this program takes on even greater significance for MUSC
as a whole. As many university and hospital staff have a long standing
commitment to the YES program, it is made available every year. The
printing costs are not part of the hospital’s operating budget. We
respect whatever choice you will make with regard to the YES Campaign
and the campaign intends no offense to you or others.
Reproduced from http://www.musc.edu/rumor/.
Nov. 7, 2008