MUSC's Response to Hurricane Matthew Earns 'High Praise'

Contact: Sheila Champlin

Oct 14, 2016

CHARLESTON, SC – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Board of Trustees heard high praise from administrators regarding MUSC’s operations during Hurricane Matthew at its regular, scheduled meeting October 14. In addition, the board also received reports on the overall status of the university and its patient care operations, MUSC Health.

“Some of the streets around campus had three to four feet of water,” said Matthew J. Wain, MUSC Health chief operations officer, in response to a trustee’s question about the storm’s impact. “Still, the surge recession was greater going out than the incoming tide was. Overall this area was quite resilient,” he said. The ongoing evolution of MUSC’s underground de-watering system was credited as one reason for improved flood protection as compared with previous years.

“I have to give incredibly high praise for the selfless teamwork that occurred during this recent emergency situation,” said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “Being in the hospital during the hurricane gave me the opportunity to witness and experience the unified spirit and team attitude that permeated our entire operation.”

Asking for some examples of “above and beyond” teamwork during the hurricane, the board learned that when help was needed to move all 32 sick babies from the NNICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) to another floor, staff volunteers appeared from throughout the hospital to help safely transport and resettle the infants in a rapid and seamless fashion. The same was true when MUSC care team members had to proactively relocate 30 pharmacy carts from the first floor of Rutledge Tower. “The call went out for support and volunteers showed up to make it happen with no hesitation,” Cole said. “Every member of our team was all in – from facilities and public safety to every other member of our care team. The integrity, commitment and dedication were truly impressive.”

“The first thing everyone asked was ‘What do you need?’ ” Wain said. “Regardless of their role or level of responsibility, everyone wanted to help.”

In other reports, Kathleen Brady, M.D., Ph.D., vice president for research, reported MUSC’s move upward in rankings for NIH research funding -- from number 53 to number 47 in fiscal year 2015, the most recent rankings available. Fueled by innovation and collaboration, advancing scientific discoveries is one of the five goals that comprise MUSC’s strategy for the future.

“This rise into the top 50 academic medical research organizations when it comes to NIH funding is a significant benchmark in our history,” Brady said, “especially since there are only 120 US academic medical centers.” She also noted that three MUSC College of Medicine departments are ranked among the top 10 for NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding: Neurosciences (5th); Otolaryngology (10th); and Psychiatry (9th). “We’ve been very interested in fostering cross-campus collaborations,” she said, “and in 2016, we have received 15 NIH cross-disciplinary collaboration awards, which speak volumes about our level of success in this area.” In fiscal year 2016, MUSC continued to lead the state in biomedical research funding with more than $259 million in grant support from external sources, including more than $109 million from the NIH.

Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for health affairs, provided a thorough status update on the clinical enterprise including the announcement of a recently signed agreement with Tidelands Health in Georgetown for a new family medicine residency program. After some four years of affiliation with Tidelands, for the first time they are welcoming eight residents per year for the next three years to train and serve their patients. The three-year residency program is scheduled to begin in July 2017, adding 24 valuable training slots that will help prepare more physicians to serve the state’s expanding health care needs.

Among other projects reported to the board, Cawley outlined progress under way for the MUSC Health North Charleston Pediatric Medical campus and the West Ashley Musculoskeletal Institute. Both projects are tentatively scheduled for construction to begin in summer 2017.

Additionally, the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion, an estimated $385 million facility, continues its construction on schedule. Although the hurricane’s rush of water and strong winds interfered with on-site progress for a short period, its long-term impact was deemed negligible. The new structure is scheduled to open in 2019 and will be among the most advanced children’s and women’s facilities in the country.

In June, just before FY2016 ended, MUSC Children’s Hospital was the only institution of its kind in the state to be ranked in US News & World Report’s 2016-2017 edition of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.” Then, on August 2, MUSC earned national recognition from US News for adult care, being named the state’s number one adult hospital for the second consecutive year, and one of the nation’s top 50 “Best Hospitals.”

About MUSC

Founded in 1824, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) continues the tradition of excellence in education, research and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges and has more than 17,000 employees. As the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center and largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $3.2 billion, with an annual economic impact of nearly $4 billion and annual research funding in excess of $284 million.

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2019, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina.