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MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


MUSC Rumor Mill separates fact from fiction

College of Nursing
I heard the College of Nursing (CON) was under the threat of closing even though they are still enrolling students. Is it safe to submit your deposit for fall and turn down admission to another university? 
Answer: CON is stronger than ever. Last year, CON expanded its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) admissions to accept 60 students in both fall and spring admission cycles. For this fall, MUSC had a record number of applications from  stellar candidates. In addition, applications are being accepted for the existing Doctorate in Philosophy (Ph.D.) program, new Doctors in Nursing Practices (DNP) program and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs in nursing education and nursing administration. Perhaps what you have heard is that MUSC closed the RN-BSN and RN-MSN programs (programs for associate degree nurses who wish to earn another degree). These programs are not critical to CON's mission, and a strategic decision was made to focus exclusively on the exceptionally talented, accelerated BSN, MSN, DNP and Ph.D. students, and continue to lead the state in these academic programs.
More layoffs
I heard that the hospital is looking at non-clinical employees to put on the chopping block. Should it be expected that more people will lose their jobs after evaluations in June or July? 
Answer: This rumor is not true. While efforts will continue to achieve cost savings and operational efficiencies in nonclinical areas, there are no plans to put individuals on the “chopping block” after the June/July evaluations.
Potholes at Hagood
Update — The potholes at the Hagood Parking lot have been patched. 

An employee in my office was laid off. How much notice is given to an employee when they are to be laid off?
Answer: The university policy requires a minimum notification of two weeks for a separation due to a formal reduction in force. However, when possible a department may grant additional time (typically between 30 and 45 days) if there is adequate funding and justification to sustain the position for that time.
Times floors are waxed
Why are floors waxed during high traffic times instead of the middle of the night when there are less staff and visitors? 
Answer: Floor maintenance for the hospital is done in several ways: scrub and burnish; scrub and top coat; or strip and refinish. Each successive process requires more time than the previous one. Every effort is made to schedule these processes at a convenient time considering patient flow, activity levels and traffic patterns. Most public areas are completed during off shifts whenever possible.
I hear that the staff of the chest pain center (CPC) cooks every day in the unit. Is this true? 
Answer: It has just come to the manager’s attention (by way of your question) that CPC staff has prepared food in the unit, primarily on weekends. The manager has instructed them to remove all cooking-related items except when there is a staff or department celebration. Cooking meals daily is not allowed due to fire safety reasons.
Food on display in a la carte, cafeteria
I find it very infuriating to see food left on display in the hallway before entering the cafeteria and in a la carte. A simple description would be acceptable and less wasteful. I am sure the cost for throwing out food is reflected in the prices that customers pay in the cafeteria. 
Answer: The display plates are proven marketing tools that help customers make decisions. Relative to sales volume, the food cost associated with those displays is minimal.

Hospital service coordinators (HSC), staffing
I heard that when the HSCs review staffing for the shift, each unit is supposed to be short a nurse by 0.5. I also heard that they are encouraged to do so by getting a bonus for how much money they save the hospital, and were advised to keep staffing under for budgeting purposes.  
Answer: This rumor is not true.

Public posting of salaries
Can you tell me why employees of the Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA), which I understand is not a state-supported institution, have their salaries posted in an online database? 
Answer: While MUHA is not subject to the State Human Resources policies, MUHA is a public state entity and subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which includes release of compensation information. The enabling MUHA legislation also specifies MUHA is subject to the FOIA. The release of FOIA compensation information is done in accordance with the FOIA.

Evening bus schedule concerns
The Mill has received several similar comments regarding the evening bus schedule. See the response below.
Answer: In response to the concerns raised about scheduling, University Transportation Services supervisors and CARTA officials were asked to observe both MUSC and CARTA evening bus activity to ensure compliance with posted schedules. Corrective action is being taken to get the buses back to the frequency necessary to meet rider needs. When MUSC riders observe MUSC or CARTA buses deviating from the required schedule, report observations directly to Steven Mengler at 577-5284. The Office of Parking Management (OPM) has available parking for immediate assignments in the Bee Street garage (one block from Ashley River Tower). For information on these parking opportunities, call OPM at 792-3665.

I heard people were contracted outside of the hospital to wax the floors in ART. We can’t get pay raises, but we can contract to wax floors?
Answer: Floor care is required to be scheduled on a cyclic basis throughout the medical center in order to maintain required cleanliness and appearance standards and to provide protection to increase the life span of the floor surfaces.

Paper towels
The university laboratories have been told they would have to begin paying for the brown paper towels placed in the towel dispensers. Shortly after this, physical plant began installing battery-powered paper towel dispensers, and we’re told they will be refilled at no cost to the labs. These rolls of bleached paper towels must certainly cost more than bundles of brown paper. Add to that the expense of purchasing the dispensers and their batteries, it’s very difficult to see how this policy serves the university’s economic interests. 
Answer: MUSC has reversed its decision to have laboratories pay for paper towels in the labs for the remainder of this fiscal year. The method of funding paper towels for the labs after June 30 will be a topic of discussion during budget deliberations. The automatic paper roll dispensers are provided and installed at no cost to the university. The paper saved using the automated paper dispensing units across campus more than offsets the slight additional cost of the white paper and the cost of batteries. The decision has been made to allow labs to choose to use either the automatic dispensing units, or the single fold brown paper towels for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Lunch breaks
We often take care of very acute patients, more often than not the load is heavy and we cannot take 30 minutes away from the unit for a break. Aren’t we required to be covered in order to have our break?
Answer: HR Policy #9 Work Schedule states that all nonexempt (hourly) employees are to be compensated for hours actually worked. Time worked excludes meal periods and is meant to be actual time “on the job.” Meal periods are generally 30 minutes in duration; however, in times of critical staffing needs an employee may at times be required to work during their assigned meal period. A nonexempt (hourly) employee must be compensated if required to work through the meal period. “Breaks” are not mandatory but, if granted, will be counted as work time.

Parking fees for patients
How much revenue has been collected since MUSC began charging patients for parking?
Answer: Based on revenue collected since patient-visitors began paying for their first two hours of parking service in MUSC garages, MUHA will save approximately $1.3 million per year.

Tuition reimbursement
I heard that MUSC will be doing away with tuition reimbursement for employees. Is this true and if so will it affect current employees or new hires only?
Answer: Currently there are no plans to eliminate the medical center’s tuition assistance program.

Sterile processing department
I heard that the Children’s Hospital sterile processing department (SPD) is going to be moved to Ashley River Tower and that pharmacy will be utilizing that space. Is any of this true?
Answer: We recently completed a study reviewing SPD processes in the main SPD and ART SPD. The study was done because SPD in ART was designed and built with extra SPD capacity for future medical center phase additions on Courtenay. The final proposal is being reviewed and any decisions will be communicated through the appropriate managers.

Overtime into compensation time
Why can‘t overtime be changed into compensation time? It would save some money especially when over- time can‘t be avoided do to staffing cuts.
Answer: The payment of wages is regulated by the Department of Labor through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Management has been diligent in reducing overtime in an effort to reduce expenditures; however FLSA mandates that time worked by an employee more than 40 hours in a seven day work week be paid at time and a half for nonexempt employees.

Main hospital
I heard that during the summer the cafeteria will be remodeled. Is this true?
Answer: Yes, the cafeteria servery and dining room will be renovated during the summer months. Sodexo, MUSC's food service partner of 27 years, is providing a substantial amount of the funding for this project. In addition to the “front of the house” improvements, Sodexo’s At Your Request (AYR) Room Service will be installed in the university hospital to feed MUSC patients. Sodexo has had success with this concept at ART and are very excited about bringing it across campus. There will be many orientation sessions for staff to attend to learn more about AYR Room Service in the coming months. Lastly, the kitchen and servery exhaust hoods and duct work will be replaced. They are in poor condition and could jeopardize the ability to prepare hot food for patients and customers.

Overselling parking garage
Twice, I have been turned away from my paid, assigned parking facility at the Rutledge Tower garage. Both times, the individual told me that Parking Services oversold this parking facility and both times, I was instructed to park in the patient Ashley/Rutledge parking garage. Both times, it happened at approximately 11:30 a.m. so it can not be contributed to the overlap of evening and night shifts. It does not seem an ethical practice to oversell parking spaces when we pay the outrageous fees for the right to park at this garage when it is not available.
Answer: While all employee and student reserved parking locations are oversubscribed to a certain extent, authorized parkers are guaranteed a space in their assigned locations whenever they need it. MUSC is looking into the factors and conditions which may have caused the problem. Call 792-2597.

Garage parking at Bee Street
I was wondering why the gates are always opened at the Bee Street Garage, and yet I pay monthly to park there? I do not find it fair that I have to pay to park there, yet there are many employees, students, and City of Charleston citizens using this garage for free. I was told that the gates had a problem reading the badges, yet nothing has been done about this problem. Could you let us know when this problem will be addressed?
Answer: There have been problems associated with the new gate access control system at the Bee Street garage. Isolating the cause of the interruption to gate communications has required us to place the gates in the open and upright position, particularly during the last few weeks, as the system is tested. The communications problem has been identified, and MUSC expects repairs to be completed by the end of this week. Barring any further system difficulties, MUSC expects normal operations to be in place next week. It should be noted that depending on events, activities, and other conditions the gates at any and all MUSC parking lots and garages may be placed in the open and upright position. MUSC relies on gates to increase their ability to control/track use and to reduce the need for parking enforcement; but when gates are not in service it does not mean parking by unauthorized users is allowed. It is not. To the contrary, parking enforcement is stepped up during these times. An MUSC parking decal, hang tag or temporary permit must be displayed on all vehicles while parked in the Bee Street garage. Parking enforcement officers have been working at the Bee Street garage every day monitoring activity and enforcing this requirement.

Fit testing
The link for the fit testing schedule states that more dates will be announced in late February or early March. I have not seen any more dates posted. There is only one weekend posted. Many of us work only nights, and not Sunday nights (so that we could be here Monday mornings). Are there going to be more times available?
Answer: The expanded schedule has been posted on the intranet. MUSC has performed 43 unit sessions since January and have 46 additional unit classes set through May. MUSC will schedule additional night and Sunday classes. The Sunday and night sessions already performed are at

When can we expect to hear how much tuition will go up next year for the College of Medicine, Nursing, etc.?
Answer: Normally, a decision would be made at the April meeting of the Board of Trustees. This year, the situation is more complicated because it is unclear whether the federal stimulus money for education will be accepted by South Carolina and incorporated into our appropriation. At the moment, state budgets are being prepared with and without the use of these funds. Tuition decisions will have to be based upon the actual appropriation level, and will be made as promptly thereafter as possible.

MUSC Excellence
I heard that the Studer group is finished with MUHA management and they no longer have to follow Studer principles such as rounding, thank you notes and recognizing employees.
Answer: This rumor is not true. During challenging times it’s more important than ever for managers to round on employees and to express appreciation for jobs well done.

Reproduced from

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.