Category Archives: UNC Health Care

Care to our communities

Earlier this year, I posted about UNC Health Care's work with Habitat for Humanity.

More than 300 of our employees worked hard to build a Habitat house for our UNC Health Care co-worker. I am pleased to report that the keys have been handed over and that Habitat house is now a home to one of our own employees. Congrats for a job well done!

The house is part of Phoenix Place, an affordable subdivision of 50 green-certified homes within the Rogers Road community in Chapel Hill. Phase 1 of the construction will include 17 houses, 14 of which will be owned by UNC or UNC Health Care employees. UNC Health Care plans to sponsor a second house in the spring of 2011.

At UNC Health Care, we're proud to support our employees, communities and our state. Our system touches thousands of North Carolinians through our efforts each day.

And Habitat is just one way we do this. This interactive map of our state, which we recently developed, demonstrates our system's strong ties to the communities we serve through employment, patient and charity care data.

I look forward to our continued support of our state, and am hopeful that even more of our employees will exemplify our commitment to caring at the Habitat build site this spring!

Birthday of UNC Hospitals

Yesterday was the 58th birthday of UNC Hospitals. N.C. Memorial Hospital saw its first patients on Sept. 2, 1952, a historic day.

I think many of us have gotten used to the sight of construction equipment and orange barricades around the UNC Hospitals campus, and we often do not get an opportunity to reflect on what they mean. In the past 58 years, our campus has gone from one hospital to five the N.C. Cancer Hospital, N.C. Children's Hospital, N.C. Neurosciences Hospital and N.C. Women's Hospital with affiliated clinics, educational facilities and physicians across the state.

I am grateful for the opportunities our organization has had to expand our capabilities to provide care, and am proud of our continued work to provide the people of North Carolina with the best care possible.

To many more birthdays¦


New Leaders for UNC Medicine and UNC Health Care

A new academic year has just begun, with a new group of students.

And we have a new group of leaders for the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care.

Not everyone is new, to be sure, but we’ve tapped some new leaders and moved others into new roles and new titles.

¢ Marschall Runge, MD, PhD, is Executive Dean, my principal deputy for the School of Medicine, and his focus is the academic affairs of the school. He is leading the effort to create a new strategic plan for the School. In addition, he will be the director of the NC TraCS Institute and PI for UNC’s CTSA grant. He remains chair of the Department of Medicine.

¢ Kevin FitzGerald, MPA, is Vice Dean for Finance and Administration, the principal leader of the School focusing on management and operations across all our missions. He continues to be our liaison to the NC General Assembly.

¢ Terry Magnuson, PhD, is Vice Dean for Research, the principal research leader for the School. He remains chair of the Department of Genetics. He oversees graduate education in the basic medical sciences, working closely with Warren Newton. He is leading the effort to create a new research plan for the School.

¢ Warren Newton, MD, MPH, is Vice Dean for Education, the principal education leader for the School. His primary focus is medical student education, but is also charged with integrating all our medical school activities, including allied health education, continuing medical education, graduate medical education and graduate education in the basic medical sciences. He remains chair of the Department of Family Medicine.

¢ Allen Daugird, MD, MBA, is President of UNC Physicians and Associates, the principal leader of the School’s faculty practice plan.

¢ Rick Pillsbury, MD, is Chair of the Executive Committee of UNC P&A, the new group of chairs who are Al Daugird’s principal advisory group. He remains chair of the Department of Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery.

¢ Paul Godley, MD, PhD, is Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, the principal leader in the dean’s office focused on developing our faculty and working with them to assure their success.

¢ Amelia Drake, MD, is Executive Associate Dean for Academic Programs, directly assisting Marschall Runge, Kevin FitzGerald and me with key tasks in leading the School’s academic initiatives.

¢ Tony Lindsey, MD, is Executive Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Chief of Staff of UNC Hospitals, working with Marschall Runge, Gary Park and others to advance our clinical and quality activities.

¢ Chris Ellington, MBA, is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of UNC Hospitals, the principal financial leader of the Hospitals.

¢ Brian Goldstein, MD, MBA, is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UNC Hospitals, the principal operations leader of the Hospitals.

We have a very good team in place — with these leaders and the others who continue in their important roles.

And we are off to a good and fast start to the new academic year.

New UNC President

Yesterday our university got a new president-elect, Tom Ross of Davidson, N.C.

The governing board of the UNC System, which has 17 campuses, including this one in Chapel Hill, elected him officially yesterday.

Ross is currently the president of Davidson College — and he has deep roots in our state and its leadership.

I believe he will be an effective leader for all of UNC, including the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care.

I very much look forward to getting to know him and to working with and for him.

He starts January 1, 2011.

Meanwhile, we have four more months of Erskine Bowles’ exemplary leadership. He has been superb, at a distance and up close.

Speaking personally, he is the best boss I have ever had.

Thank you, Erskine, for all you have done for our institution and for me.

Leadership Changes in the Med School

Because of several unrelated developments, we have the opportunity to reload the senior ranks of the UNC School of Medicine.

I welcome this — and see it as a chance for us to prepare ourselves and the institution for the next phase of our work together.

Last month, Etta Pisano left UNC to go to the Medical University of South Carolina, where she will become dean of the College of Medicine, July 1. We celebrate her accomplishments and all that she has given us. We wish her the best in this new endeavor.

This means we need to fill her position here — Vice Dean for Academic Affairs of the med school. Separately, she has also served as director of the NC TraCS Institute, which manages our NIH-CTSA grant. So we need to identify the right person to do that as well.

This spring we also launched searches for two other senior positions — Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development, which Gene Orringer has ably done for almost fifteen years, and Executive Associate Dean for Research, which Bill Marzluff has ably done for fifteen years. We are very grateful for their service and accomplishments, and they will continue to contribute as leaders among the faculty.

We posted these positions and yesterday the posting closed. I am in the process of interviewing people.

I am really grateful that a number of talented people have stepped forward and offered themselves for these important roles. That is not easy to do — and I thank them.

I am seeking wide input on these decisions — believing that we have a unique opportunity to position the School for success.

We want to continue our path of excellence and leadership — our aspiration is to be the leading public medical school and leading public academic medical center in America.

We want people who work well together as a team — but who each are strong and talented in their respective areas, not timid or quiet.

We want a diverse team of people — we have made progress in recent years in diversifying the School and the UNC Health Care System, but we have much more we can and ought to do in this area.

We have lots of challenges — but also lots of opportunities. I believe these new leadership decisions are major opportunities.

Stay tuned.

Challenges, successes shared with UNC faculty

Fall has most assuredly arrived in Chapel Hill. The leaves are especially colorful this year, the morning air has been crisp more than once, and, as dean of the UNC School of Medicine I had the honor of delivering my fall address to the faculty.

This year provided ample reason for reflection. We have faced many challenges, many of them stemming from the financial crisis that was felt by individuals and institutions around the world. But I was also able to cite a long list of accomplishments for which the faculty deserve much of the credit. Among those I mentioned:

¢ We graduated and matched a wonderful class of medical students, and we filled all of our own residency positions with outstanding doctors

¢ We again ranked second overall for primary care on the U.S. News & World Report Best Medical Schools list; and we were twentieth overall and sixth among public schools of medicine for research

¢ UNC Hospitals was included among the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals, and ranked among the top 5 percent in H-CAPS scores

¢ We received the third highest score among all hospitals for patient satisfaction with nursing

¢ We opened two world-class facilities: the Genetic Medicine Building, the most sophisticated science building ever constructed at UNC, and the long-awaited North Carolina Cancer Hospital, which welcomed its first patients in August

¢ UNC faculty received more than $350 million in research grants in 2009; our funding from the NIH has increased 15 percent since 2007

¢ As of October, the medical faculty have received 150 awards totaling almost $50 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the Stimulus bill)

However, the loss of jobs across the state has had a significant impact on UNC Health Care because of the growth in uninsured North Carolinians. Unemployment across the country weighs heavily as citizens and members of Congress consider health reform. The economy and health care reform were on the minds of many of the faculty at this meeting.

As I have stated in this blog many times before, health reform is an economic issue as well as a health issue. We feel that very acutely at UNC. I repeated to the faculty my belief that every American ought to be insured, and we, as a nation, need to change the way we provide health care to focus on keeping people well.

Fortunately, UNC faculty are also leading the way in creating and expanding new ways to organize and deliver quality health care services in a more efficient manner. We want UNC to be a national leader in this area.

The faculty asked questions about the challenges of our growth, including the scarcity of space. In some respects this is a good problem to have, but it is surely hard to solve, especially quickly. We also talked about our proposed new hospital in Hillsborough.

Because of the economy we have tightened our belt, but the Imaging Research Building is under construction, and we hope to open the Hillsborough hospital, if we get CON approval, in 2014.

Many of our challenges are not unique to UNC. They're faced by practically every academic medical center in the country. However, the level of excellence and the spirit of collaboration and collegiality among UNC faculty sets us apart. It is through their efforts that we answer challenges creatively, and will continue to find innovative ways to conduct research, provide patient care and educate.

Charlotte summit addresses health care

The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce holds a summit each year at which they focus on pressing matters affecting their area. This year's focus is health care in North Carolina.

The folks who have planned this year's meeting could not have chosen a more timely topic about which they can assist and educate the business community.

I will have the pleasure of speaking at tomorrow morning's meeting at the Hilton Charlotte University Place, and sharing with the audience UNC Health Care's unique perspective on what I believe to be a health care crisis in North Carolina.

I use the word “crisis” because persisting problems in our state and around the country, such as physician shortages and rising rates of chronic diseases have combined with current economic challenges to create just that.

Members of local and state Chambers of Commerce surely play a crucial role in how we we will respond. Small business owners and heads of multi-national corporations are all struggling to keep employees on the payrolls, and many have made difficult choices about increasing health care premiums.

UNC is both upstream of this crisis, because our researchers and clinicians are continually looking for ways to abate these issues, and downstream, because we feel the economic impact of unemployment and rising health care costs.

Last week, for a story in advance of tomorrow's meeting, I spoke with Charlotte Business Journal reporter, Jennifer Thomas, and shared with her the message I have delivered in other parts of the state, which is that we must act now to turn our crisis around. I made one slight adjustment to my earlier picture of health care in North Carolina: we now expect our uncompensated care for fiscal 2010 at UNC Health Care to reach $300 million, or more.

Jennifer asked about funds from the stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that promises to provide funding to expand health care IT, extend COBRA benefits and add to our Medicaid coffers.

In a recent interview for HealthLeaders magazine about hospital IT, I pointed out that the stimulus money, because of its relatively short deadline, carries with a great risk. As I was quoted in the article,

“Unless we are careful, we may end up spending this money and not accomplishing nearly what ought to be accomplished. This notion seems to be driven by a too-simplistic idea that all we need to do is go out and buy a bunch of computers and wires and plug them all together and, bingo, great things will happen. We all know it’s more complicated than that.”

In the short term, these surely are welcome and necessary funds.

However, what we need most is substantive, national reform. Such changes, broad in scope, should have a very local impact to assist North Carolina businesses and all of our citizens.