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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Currents Sept. 7

To Medical Center Employees:

Fiscal year 2009/2010 was a good year in terms of achieving most of our pillar-based goals. The next two years promise to bring new challenges as we deal with the impact of the economy and the transitional period for health care reform.

Recent articles in publications such as “Health Leaders Media” and “The Wall Street Journal” point toward a drop in health care use including a decline in physician visits and elective surgery. Moreover, at our state level, funding for Medicaid for the full year remains in question. We also know that hospitals need to drive waste out of the system and emphasize a culture of productivity as we prepare for health care reform.

To prepare for the future, we are crafting plans to reduce Medical Center costs by 5 percent this year and 5 percent next year. This is not a budget cut per se, but instead a plan to reduce costs per unit of service and to operate more efficiently.

Service line administrators are being tasked to solicit input from physician leaders, managers and staff and craft specific plans, utilizing our IMPROVE performance improvement model, to target opportunities for cost savings. Administrative support departments are also being asked to craft similar plans. Our cost reduction initiative will be an ongoing process for the foreseeable future.

On another matter, at the Sept. 7 communications meeting Kim Duncan, human resources information systems manager, announced that 97 percent of all performance evaluations for Medical Center (MUHA) employees were completed by the deadline using the SuccessFactors system. I want to thank Ms. Duncan and everyone involved for their hard work. Human Resources will work with the management team to identify and clean up the remaining 3 percent and to finalize the planning stages for this year.

Finally, this Friday, Sept. 10 we will have the Heart Walk Hustle in the Horseshoe and Ashley River Tower from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 25, the Heart Walk will take place. Everyone is encouraged to join a team and take part. For additional details, please contact Liz Schreiner at 792-1073 or 

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

People—Fostering employee pride and loyalty


Dave Neff, Ambulatory Care Services, read a letter from a grateful patient addressed to the MUSC Excellence Service team and MUSC President Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D. The letter praised the services and care provided by Stephanie McGowan, Therapeutic Services-Physical Therapy, for helping the patient reduce lower abdominal pain using exercise and other techniques. “Stephanie is a brilliant physical therapist. I’m sure she has made an impact by changing people’s lives with her knowledge, expertise and care. She certainly has changed mine,” wrote the patient.


HR update
Mark Stimpson, HR Benefits manager, presented the following topics:

  • Kim Duncan, HR information systems manager, thanked managers for achieving a 97 percent completion rate using the new SuccessFactors system. As of Sept. 7, about 87 percent managers completed the planning form. Deadline for this information has been extended until Friday, Sept. 24.
  • 2010 MUSC Service AwardsThe ceremony will occur at 2:30 p.m., Sept. 30, Basic Science Building Auditorium (Room 100). Employees will be recognized for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of service.

  • 2010 Annual Enrollment (Insurance Benefits)Enrollment period runs throughout October; changes made in October are effective Jan. 1; changes may be made online or on paper. In late September, all benefits-eligible employees will receive an e-mail from MUHA HR describing changes and details about briefings.
  • 2010 Annual Benefits Fair (held jointly with University HR) will occur from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sept. 24, outside the Colbert Education Center & Library building

Employees can exchange health plans; add adult children (through ages 25) who are currently uninsured; enroll/drop vision and supplemental long-term disability (SLTD) insurance without proving good health; increase optional term life by up to $50,000 (employee), either $10,000-20,000 (spouse) without proving good health; decrease/drop optional life on you/spouse; enroll/re-enroll in medical and dependent day care spending accounts (required annually

  • Program updates/changes featured: no increase in employee premiums for both the standard and savings state health plans; rate changes for Cigna and BlueChoice HMOs (Cigna imposing a 15 to 28 percent premium hike. BlueChoice premiums remain the same for single coverage, slight increase for couples and small decreases for two other coverage levels); medical center’s contribution for cost of all four medical insurance plans will increase by 10.3 percent; no lifetime cap on benefits (currently @ $2 million); tobacco use surcharge to increase to $40 per month for individuals and $60 for those with dependent coverage; removal of pre-existing condition clause for under 19-year-olds; and adult children turning age 19 can remain on parents’ coverage up to age 25.

Only prescribed drugs (not over the counter) can be reimbursed through medical spending and health savings accounts; APS Healthcare will no longer require pre-authorization for medically necessary office visits except for psychological/neuropsychological testing, etc. In-patient treatment still requires pre-authorization. Failure to do so will result in a $200 charge per admission

For information or to coordinate a benefits representative to present at your next staff  meeting, contact Stimpson at or call 792-0826.

Compulsory flu vaccine
Pat Cawley, M.D., Medical University Hospital executive medical director, reviewed details about the medical center’s influenza vaccine policy as recommended by the Joint Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Carolina Hospital Association and other organizations. Previous success with the medical center’s voluntary policy resulted in only a 55 percent vaccination rate. Many organizations have instituted this as a compulsory policy often resulting in vaccination rates greater than 90 percent.

It applies to all medical center employees who are in direct patient contact or who could expose those with direct patient contact.

This year’s vaccine is a single injection or nasal spray that protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during flu season: H1N1, H3N2 and seasonal influenza.

MUSC will host Tent Days to distribute the flu vaccine: Oct. 5 and 6, Colbert Education Center & Library portico; Oct. 5, ART; Oct. 14 (inside the library); scheduled clinics; manager distribution; Employee Health Service from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weekdays; and the Adult Emergency Departments. Flu vaccinations must be completed by Dec. 31.

The vaccine can be declined by employees for religious beliefs or medical reasons (A declination form must be completed). Medical reasons for not participating include – allergies to eggs or vaccine components; Guillian Barre Syndrome (within six weeks following previous flu vaccine dose); or when an employee provides proof that vaccine is received elsewhere. Individuals who decline the vaccine under these reasons will be required to wear a surgical-type mask while on duty.

Throughout this period, the flu vaccine will be tracked for employee compliance.

Patient and Family Centered Care
Maggie Thompson, Patient and Family Centered Care manager, outlined a reorganization of  this area which is now under the Medical Director’s Office.

The team is composed of Thompson, Lisa Marie Montgomery, coordinator; Torri Jacobsen, coordinator; and Trenace Washington, specialist. The group has two primary areas of responsibility: serve as central liaison for patient and family concerns and complaints; and measure the patient experience while guiding the organization to patient and family centered-care practices.

Since July 2008, the Patient and Family Liaison Office has handled a steady increase of patient complaints. Throughout 2009, a total of 1,291 complaints were logged for a monthly average of 107. Among patient concerns is care and treatment, billing and financial, coordination of care, access, lost belongings, communications and compliments.

The department handles the following referrals:

  • Claims or complaints related to lost patient belongings
  • Clinical issue with care or treatment (includes in-house issues that staff or leaders cannot resolve)
  • Complaints involving medical care that affect charges
  • Requests from patients or families to speak with someone outside the unit, regarding their concern

According to Thompson, the team also uses patient satisfaction surveys to gauge patient experiences. Thompson and Jacobsen oversee data mapping and uploading, sampling and the survey process. They collaborate with survey super users across the organization, which are responsible for accessing survey data and comments for their respective areas. They submit data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services via the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. HCAHPS is a national, standardized survey of patients’ perspectives regarding their own hospital experience.

Currently, the team is focused on implementing six new Family Advisory Councils to join the already established Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council. These councils will help to link patients and families with staff and leaders, to collaborate on solutions to support MUSC’s goal of being the provider of choice. The group also is working on other initiatives to achieve a culture focused on patient and family centered care.


  • Jo Anne Good, R.N., is the new nurse manager of 3North Psychiatry. Good, has worked in the mental health and substance abuse fields as well as in hospice care and the Medical-Surgical ICU.
  • Greg Weigle is the new director of construction and design in the Department of Facilities & Capitol Improvements. Weigle, who relocated from York, Penn., worked previously at KLMK, a program management consulting firm supporting hospital construction projects.
  • The MUSC family is invited to enjoy food and several fundraising activities with the Heart Walk Hustle from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 10, at the Horseshoe, ART entrance and mezzanine. Food will be available for sale at both sites and proceeds will support the American Heart Association. The 2010 Heart Walk is Sept. 25.
  • The next meeting will occur Sept. 21.

Friday, September 10, 2010

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.