December 16, 2005

Year in review 2005: Achievements, improvements highlight 2005

Featured Image

John Byrne, M.D., performs surgery in VUMC’s new Hybrid OR/Cath Lab.
photo by Dana Johnson

John Byrne, M.D., performs surgery in VUMC’s new Hybrid OR/Cath Lab.
photo by Dana Johnson

Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox, left, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus, right, presented Jim Shmerling and Harry Jacobson, M.D., with proceeds from the group’s concert in September, which benefitted the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 
photo by Dana Johnson

Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox, left, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus, right, presented Jim Shmerling and Harry Jacobson, M.D., with proceeds from the group’s concert in September, which benefitted the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
photo by Dana Johnson

Editor's note — the following, in no particular order, is a roundup of the news that made headlines at Vanderbilt University Medical Center this year.

Elevate gains steam

VUMC's wide-ranging improvement initiative, known as elevate, continued to grow and build momentum during the year. Staff and faculty learned about 'rounding' and began to see the fruits of the elevate reward and recognition program. Key components of the initiative, such as the elevate Credo and the Credo Behaviors, were introduced by members of the leadership team, who themselves attended a series of training sessions as part of the elevate education process.

Institutional goals under elevate include: reducing job turnover by 10 percent; raising overall job satisfaction by five points; performing above the 50th percentile in all publicly reported clinical quality measures; and increasing sponsored research dollars by 10 percent.

NIH ranking surges

VUMC climbed to 15th out of 123 academic medical centers in National Institutes of Health funding, reflecting an increase in the total number of awards from 521 to 554, and a 10.2 percent increase in total funding to $226.8 million.

The two-position jump for fiscal year 2004 (Oct. 1, 2003 – Sept. 30, 2004) enhanced VUMC's position as the fastest growing research program in the nation.

Eight VUMC departments ranked in the top 10 in their respective categories and 12 placed in the top 20: Molecular Physiology and Biophysics (1), Cell and Developmental Biology/Cancer Biology (5), Medicine (6), Pharmacology (6), Pediatrics (8), Anesthesiology (9), Biochemistry (10), Radiology (10) Biostatistics (13), Surgery (14), Microbiology (17) and Otolaryngology (18).

DNA databank

To help investigators uncover the links between genes and disease and between genes and drug response, VUMC announced plans to build an anonymous database of genetic and clinical information.

The database resource will use blood that would otherwise be discarded to obtain anonymous genetic samples. These “banked” samples will be associated with clinical data extracted from medical records without information that identifies those records. Investigators will be able to use the resource to look for patterns and parallels between patients with similar diseases or who have taken similar medications.

U54 grant

The partnership between Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and Meharry Medical College aimed at reducing cancer-related racial disparities landed a $10 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health, the only such site honored.

The funding is known as the U54 grant. The current grant runs out in April 2006, when this renewal, totaling $10 million over five years will take effect. Vanderbilt-Ingram and Meharry received the total amount they requested, having earned an outstanding score in the NIH renewal process.

Nursing satisfaction

VUMC nurses are significantly happier at work than nurses at other hospitals, according to the National RN Satisfaction Survey conducted by the National Database for Nursing Quality Indicators.

The online survey included feedback from nearly 76,000 nurses at 206 hospitals nationwide. This was the first time VUMC participated in a nursing survey of this scope, and it served as an important step forward in the Medical Center's pursuit of Magnet Recognition, the American Nurses' Credentialing Center's criteria for excellence. Only 186 hospitals in the country have made it through the rigorous application process to earn Magnet status.

VCH lauded

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt was ranked in the top 10 children's hospitals in the nation, according to Child magazine.

The Children's Hospital was listed number eight in the nation from among 144 original applicants. The Child magazine rankings also listed Vanderbilt Children's Hospital as seventh in the nation for pediatric cancer services.

Imaging Institute

Construction began in the fall on a four-floor, state-of-the-art facility in the old emergency room parking lot between the A and B wings of Medical Center North that will house the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS).

While the $26 million, 40,000-square-foot facility won't be completed until the spring of 2006, Vanderbilt is going ahead with plans to purchase one of the world's most powerful research magnets. The $7 million, 7 tesla magnet will be installed, with 400 metric tons of steel shielding around it, on the ground floor of the new facility in mid-December.

Cancer Campaign ends

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center celebrated the official end of the “Imagine a World Without Cancer” Campaign, having raised nearly $180 million for the fight against cancer in Middle Tennessee.

Achievements since the campaign began in 1999 include: Vanderbilt-Ingram became the only center in the state to earn the highest distinction from the National Cancer Institute with designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Cancer Center was enhanced and approximately 20,000 cancer patients turned to Vanderbilt for their care; new departments and programs were created in radiation oncology, cancer biology, biostatistics, thoracic surgery, family cancer risk assessment and counseling and pain and symptom management.

Hybrid OR

VUMC became the first hospital in the region to offer a novel approach to cardiac surgery which doctors believe will change the standard of care for cardiovascular patients.

Called the Hybrid OR/Cath Lab, the state-of-the-art operating suite houses all the equipment and monitoring devices necessary to perform open-heart surgeries, like coronary bypass, as well as percutaneous coronary interventions and procedures, including angioplasty and stenting.

A major advantage is the ability to perform an angiogram at the end of routine cardiac surgical cases to make sure grafts are in place and blood is flowing properly.

Asthma disparities grant

Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College received a $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to probe racial disparities in asthma-related care.

The two institutions were named one of five new Centers for Reducing Asthma Disparities, a program of the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Each new center will receive a $6 million grant from the NIH to address one of the top four asthma-related priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Frogs in HIV fight

An unlikely new weapon in the battle against HIV may have been discovered — a small tropical frog.

Investigators at VUMC reported in the Journal of Virology that compounds secreted by frog skin are potent blockers of HIV infection. The findings could lead to topical treatments for preventing HIV transmission, and they reinforce the value of preserving the Earth's biodiversity.

MERIT for Marnett

Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., received a MERIT (Method to Extend Research In Time) Award from the National Cancer Institute in support of his research on DNA mutation and carcinogenesis.

Less than 5 percent of National Institutes of Health-funded investigators are selected to receive MERIT awards, which recognize superior competence and outstanding productivity. A key feature of the awards is the opportunity for investigators to gain up to 10 years of grant support without competitive review.

Vine Hill Clinic expands

The Vine Hill Community Clinic, operated by the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, announced plans to double its size and extend hours of operation to help more patients and enhance patient care.

Vine Hill currently treats about 65 scheduled patients a day with episodic illness, chronic illness, minor injuries and physicals including well-woman exams.

With plans to add 3,500 square-feet of space, managers say they will be able to handle up to 90 patients a day. Renovation plans include increasing square footage on the first and second floors, making way for more exam rooms, adding offices for providers and space for patient support services.

Making the lists

• Vanderbilt University ranked fifth among the “Best Places to Work in Academia,” according to an extensive survey of practicing scientists done by The Scientist, a magazine catering to the life sciences. The third annual survey has Vanderbilt up 29 spots from 2003, when the magazine first polled academic researchers about their universities and organizations. The university ranked 13th last year but only the top 10 were published.

Respondents were asked to assess their working conditions and environments by indicating their level of agreement with 41 criteria in eight different areas — job satisfaction, peers, infrastructure and environment, research resources, pay, management and policies, teaching and mentoring and tenure.

• According to a survey of consumer preferences, a rapidly growing number of Nashvillians are viewing VUMC as the premier provider of health care services in the Middle Tennessee Region. Vanderbilt topped all other area providers as the overall hospital of choice, and was tabbed by respondents as the number one choice — often by whopping margins — in nearly every category studied.

• Consumers Digest magazine ranked VUMC number eight on its list of “50 Exceptional U.S. Hospitals,” derived from The Leapfrog Group's survey of 165 of the nation's largest employers that have banded together to promote health care quality and safety.

• For the sixth consecutive year, Vanderbilt University Hospital was recognized as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country in a study by Solucient Institute. The list identifies hospitals that have “achieved national benchmark level scores for overall organizational performance in comparison with its peers across the nation.”

• Vanderbilt University School of Medicine was again ranked among the best medical schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The magazine placed VUSM 17 out of 125 accredited medical schools in the United States in its annual scoring of graduate and professional schools.

In a separate ranking, U.S. News also placed VUMC among the nation's elite in its annual ranking of the best hospitals in the country. VUMC made the list of Top 50 in seven of the 17 specialties ranked by the magazine.