December 12, 2008

Expense-reduction moves set stage for strong future

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Douglas Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D.

Expense-reduction moves set stage for strong future

Efforts to reduce expenses now under way at Vanderbilt Medical Center will help ensure the institution emerges from today's uncertain economy in a position of strength.

These efforts, which will run the gamut from delaying planned building projects to reducing all manner of expenditures, are being crafted and implemented with two primary goals in mind: strengthening Vanderbilt's position as a national leader in patient care, scientific research and medical education; and protecting the institution's greatest asset — its people.

“First and foremost, we, as an institution and as individuals, are dedicated to our people,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “The primary reason we are in as strong a position as we are today is because of the hard work, talent and dedication of all the people who work here. We know that, and we want to protect that. We want to do everything we can to keep the team together.”

Secondly, maintaining a stable employment atmosphere will help the Medical Center continue to attract and recruit top-level faculty and staff.

The expense-reduction measures being implemented across all areas of the Medical Center fall under three general categories:

• Staffing — While no layoffs are planned, all currently open positions will be carefully examined before being filled.

• Travel and entertainment — This is an area where savings can be realized. Discretionary travel requests will be thoroughly reviewed. Alternatives, such as online learning and remote attendance, are encouraged. Entertainment spending, such as food and beverages for work meetings, departmental gatherings and social events, will be significantly curtailed.

• Capital projects — Some planned construction starts will be temporarily delayed, including Medical Research Building V and the expansion of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. Projects that will be completed include Vanderbilt Health at One Hundred Oaks (with a delay in the wellness center), the Critical Care Tower addition to Vanderbilt University Hospital and the parking garage on Children's Way.

“When we take a close look at our budgets, we realize there are a number of ways, especially related to travel and entertainment, to bring costs down while at the same time preserving our people assets, which is crucial,” said Larry Goldberg, chief executive officer of VUH.

To learn more about what you can do to help reduce costs in your area, talk to your supervisor.

Also, a special Medical Center blog has been created where individuals can offer additional ideas on how the institution can be more efficient, ask questions or express concerns.

To access the blog, go to