November 12, 2004

Address highlights VUMC’s clinical, research growth

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Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, outlined the state of Medical Center operations at last week’s Fall Faculty Meeting.
photo by Dana Johnson

Address highlights VUMC’s clinical, research growth

In his yearly progress report on the achievements of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vice Chancellor Harry R. Jacobson, M.D., told the audience at the Fall Faculty Meeting last week that Vanderbilt is performing strongly.

As in recent years, VUMC continues to increase its funding for research and patient care income as well as steadily gaining in national recognition, Jacobson said.

Patient admissions to the Vanderbilt University Hospital and Clinic rose to 35,686 during fiscal year 2004, an 18.9 percent increase over fiscal year 2003. Emergency visits during that period rose 53 percent to 76,831, clinic visits jumped 56 percent to 824,103 and total surgeries increased nearly 39 percent to 30,754.

Admissions to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, which opened in February, are running ahead of projections, as are ambulatory visits and total surgeries.

A driving force behind growing and improving VUMC's clinical enterprise efforts will be a multi-year service renewal plan, dubbed Elevate (see Nov. 5 Reporter). This Medical Center-wide initiative is designed to renew and sharpen the commitment to service and operational excellence, with the primary goal of improving the experience of patients in Vanderbilt's hospitals and clinics.

Vanderbilt's research mission remains on the fast track. Annual research funding is at $300 million, and at an average growth rate of 25 percent, VUMC is the fastest growing institution in National Institutes of Health funding in the nation.

Jacobson also updated faculty on the progress of several construction projects previously announced, including the renovation and expansion of Adult Emergency, the Bill Wilkerson Center, the Orthopaedics Institute, the Eskind Diabetes Clinic, the Children's Hospital helipad, expansion of the hospital garage and completion of Medical Research Building IV. All these projects are slated for completion in Spring and Summer, 2005.

VUMC continues to bolster its name on a national and regional basis. Again, the hospital was the only Tennessee hospital named to U.S. News and World Report's list of best hospitals and was ranked among the country's top 50 hospitals in nine of 12 major specialties – Cancer, Neurology, Urology, Gynecology, Hormonal Diseases, Pulmonary Disease, ENT, Kidney and Orthopaedics.

The Nursing Department was recently named the Outstanding Employer for 2004 by the Tennessee Nurses Association and, in a recent national ranking, 46 Vanderbilt doctors – of the 67 doctors listed in Tennessee – were listed as America's Top Doctors.

Looking ahead, Jacobson outlined several initiatives aimed at improving the clinical enterprise. In the short term, these initiatives include improving DRG coding, reducing variability, improving Emergency Department thruputs and discharging patients earlier. Long term initiatives outlined include improving capacity utilization, speeding up inpatient consults and improving clinic capacity.

Several new leaders were introduced, including Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research; John Byrne, M.D., chair of Cardiac Surgery; Bill Putnam, M.D., chair of Thoracic Surgery; and Scott Rodgers, M.D., assistant dean for Medical Students.