|A letter from Dr. Ray Greenberg
As you may have read in the newspaper or heard on news reports, the
finances for the state of South Carolina continue to face challenges.
Understandably, many of you are concerned about how these budget
challenges are affecting MUSC and, in turn, the thousands of dedicated
people who work here. My purpose in writing now is to give you an
overview of where we are at present and an idea of what lies ahead.
Let me start with the good news. The hospital is full to overflowing
with patients and this is reflected in a financial performance that is
well above budget. All of the faculty and staff in the clinical
enterprise deserve our congratulations for providing the outstanding
care that is attracting patients in record numbers and providing that
care with skill, efficiency and compassion. On the university side, we
are also ahead of our budget plan, even after the mid-year budget cuts
that removed an additional 9 percent of our state funding. These
results were achieved without any layoffs or furloughs this year.
How have we been able to manage so well in spite of the loss of about a
third of our state funding during the past 18 months? The answer again
is in the hard work of our faculty and staff. On the research side, our
funding is up, even before one considers the additional one-time
infusion of support from the NIH stimulus funding. Our current
operating margin is largely attributable to our educational stimulus
funds, and we are managing those funds to make sure that we have the
flexibility needed to face challenges that may lie ahead.
The magnitude of future challenges remains unclear in South Carolina,
and the nation overall. While there are signs of recent economic
growth, they are modest, and in general, state budgets tend to recover
a year or more after the end of a recession. Given the slowness of the
recovery, the federal government is considering additional support to
state budgets in areas such as Medicaid match money. Until these
commitments are made, the budget writers in Columbia must work with the
existing resources. Not surprisingly, therefore, the initial plans
coming out of the House Ways and Means Committee include substantial
further reductions in funding to all state agencies, including MUSC.
It is important to remember that it is still very early in the budget
process. We will have a much better sense of next year’s state
appropriation to the Medical University in a couple of months.
Nevertheless, we cannot wait until then to begin our internal budget
planning process. We are moving forward, hoping for the best, and
preparing to deal with the cuts that would be required under the same
assumptions that the budget writers in Columbia are using.
This is a daunting task, but no more so than dealing with cuts we have
received during the past year and a half. I would argue that we are in
a better position today because we won’t be blind-sided by cuts the way
we were at the beginning of the recession; we know that cuts are coming
and we have some time to plan for them. My commitment to you is that we
will manage our current resources with care in order to help us get
through the challenges ahead. Moreover, as I learn more about the
budget situation in Columbia and our own plans to deal with it, I will
keep you posted.
Again, I wish to thank each and every one of you for all that you are
doing to help us continue to meet our many obligations in education,
research and patient care. You are doing a remarkable job under
difficult circumstances, and through your efforts we are doing more
with less. Together, we will get through the remaining years of this
recession and build a platform for even greater success in the years
With grateful appreciation,
Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., MUSC president
Friday, March 5, 2010