April 11, 2008

Jacobson outlines Vision 2020

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Harry Jacobson, M.D., talks about Vision 2020. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Jacobson outlines Vision 2020

At the conclusion of last week's State of the Medical Center address, Robert Collins, M.D., asked for the microphone.

Collins, the distinguished professor of Pathology and Vanderbilt Medical Center historian known for his exacting teaching style, began with a compliment.

“I've known all the vice chancellors … and you are the most innovative,” he told Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Harry Jacobson, M.D., who had just described his vision for the medical center's next decade.

“The 2020 vision … may be a lodestone we can all hold on to,” Collins continued, “a vision that brings us together.”

Vision 2020 is the Medical Center's new “exercise.” Unveiled by Jacobson a year ago, it aims to set as a collective goal “to make change, to make things better, to have a measurable impact” on the health of Middle Tennessee.

“Instead of wondering what we need to do to become one of the best medical centers in the nation,” Jacobson said in his speech, “we will ask what can we do to make fundamental discoveries in science, to speed discovery so that it is incorporated into practice almost overnight, to care for patients in a failsafe way … (and) to change the way medical and nursing school students learn.”

During his hour-long address in the newly refurbished Langford Auditorium, Jacobson detailed the remarkable growth the Medical Center has achieved in the last few years, and the challenges it faces.

He also announced that effective Sept. 1, all tobacco use will be banned on campus. The ban will apply to staff, faculty, patients, vendors and visitors.

“We have decided to make the Medical Center totally smoke-free,” Jacobson said, to enthusiastic applause. According to the annual “Go for the Gold” campaign, 90 percent of Medical Center employees say they already are non-smokers.

To help the others, smoking cessation classes and prescriptions will be offered to employees; visitors who smoke will be guided to off-campus sites, and they will be offered smoking cessation brochures and nicotine substitutes.

An estimated 1,000 people attended Jacobson's address, including members of the Medical Center Board and recently appointed Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos.

“This is a very positive appointment for Vanderbilt because Nick is a true member of the academy and he loves the university,” Jacobson said. “He's a very strong supporter of the Medical Center, and he knows it very well. I look forward to working with Nick over the next several years.”

Growth was a major part of Jacobson's address.

VMC has grown so rapidly in recent years that its main campus is at capacity, the vice chancellor said. To cope, the Medical Center is implementing a “focused growth strategy” to maximize the value of its existing physical assets, decompress the main campus, and shift some of the volume to other sites.

One of those sites is One Hundred Oaks.

Within 15 months, Jacobson said, “we plan to have everything that needs to be at One Hundred Oaks moved in and operating … The capacity constraints are going to be over by the fall of next year.”

Other building projects include refurbishment of Vanderbilt University Hospital, beginning with radiology this summer, construction of a new main hospital lobby, and expansion of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt to include obstetric services.

In the preliminary planning stages is a new research building to be located alongside the “S” corridor of Medical Center North between the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science and the Eskind Biomedical Library.

One of the drivers of the focused growth strategy is the continued rise in uncompensated care, which is expected to top $175 million in the current fiscal year, Jacobson said.

In addition to continuing to try to get a disproportionate share payment from the federal government and other efforts to reduce uncompensated care, the Medical Center is recruiting faculty in “high-margin” surgical specialties, including cardiovascular and neurosurgery.

As an example, Jacobson cited the Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute, which has seen a doubling in its volume in the past two years.

Overall for the Medical Center, “this has been truly a remarkable 10 years,” Jacobson said. “Everyone should take credit for that … But what do we do now?”

Referring to the Medical Center's marketing position statement, “Asking is the answer,” Jacobson challenged his colleagues to “keep asking.”

“Ask to learn new things. Ask to improve how we deliver patient care. Ask for more instead of accepting less.

“Vanderbilt should be a place that innovates and perfects, not just a place that practices what others have perfected,” Jacobson concluded. “That is our unique value, and that is what we will build, together.”

To view Jacobson's address online, click on www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/statevumc.