School District, Charleston Thank MUSC for 'Healthy Communities'

Contact: Heather Woolwine

May 18, 2017

CHARLESTON, SC – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees held its regular scheduled meeting May 18, hearing from City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Charleston County School District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait, Ed.D. The two special guests advised the board that MUSC’s goal of building healthy communities is having widespread impact.

MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, told the board he asked Tecklenburg and Postlewait to attend and share some of the ways the MUSC enterprise is partnering with their entities to build healthier and more economically viable communities. Tecklenburg began by lauding the good working relationship between the city and MUSC, noting monthly meetings to discuss the numerous initiatives taking place. In one example, he referenced the WestEdge development currently under construction and plans for the new medical district. “It's just an incredible new development area for our city and an opportunity for medical and related technology business growth. The medical district concept is going to make this part of the city more walkable, more pedestrian friendly. It has a long way to go but we – MUSC and the city – are working with our partners at the veteran’s hospital and Roper. We also thank MUSC for being the title partner in our Holy Spokes bike share program. The bikes are really terrific,” he said.

Tecklenburg mentioned drainage issues facing MUSC and the city, providing the board with a brief update on the $180 million drainage project under way along “the Crosstown” parkway. He also shared an early glimpse into plans on the drawing board for the next major drainage project, which will affect the MUSC campus and surrounding area.

While introducing Postlewait to the board, Cole connected the dots on why MUSC needs to be in schools, noting the complex set of factors that create learning readiness and how many of those are tied to a child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Postlewait thanked the board and MUSC leadership for their foresight in creating these programs and opportunities for improved student health. Citing the MUSC STAR clinic for behavioral intervention referrals, 10 school-based health clinics and 16 school-based telehealth partnerships, she praised MUSC as “a stellar example of a community partnership that is healthy, growing, and leading to more thriving outreach services available for our students.”

Postlewait asked the board to consider expanding current services, innovative programs that address the growing substance abuse problem among students and families, and for MUSC’s help in recruiting more health practitioners to teach courses in the STEM curriculum throughout Charleston County.

Growing MUSC ambulatory services

MUSC Health CEO Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., offered an update on ambulatory service planning for the enterprise, citing five primary drivers for MUSC’s expansion throughout the Lowcountry:

  • Patient expectations for convenience, comfort (shift from inpatient to outpatient care)
  • The need for closer chronic disease management
  • Population management on the peninsula
  • Improved health care technology available in the outpatient setting
  • Cost (to the institution and to patient populations) 

Given these drivers, Cawley said that a new pediatric ambulatory imaging and surgical facility would break ground in North Charleston this summer with the City of North Charleston’s approval, expansion of space, and services already available in West Ashley near West Ashley High School are under way and there are plans to submit certificates of need for an oncology center in the northern Tri-county area (Summerville) and an ambulatory surgery center in Mount Pleasant.

Cawley also briefed board members on the scheduled implementation of the Funds Flow process for compensation of MUSC physicians who provide clinical care. Like many other academic medical centers (AMCs) across the nation, this July MUSC Health will begin paying physicians for the number of patients they care for and the quality of that care, as opposed to the amount of revenue generated by the department. This involves the use of a health care metric called a relative value unit (RVU), among other measures, which will more accurately reflect a physician’s full scope of work. RVUs are used to help offset inequity among hard-working practitioners in departments who serve patients with varying levels of insurance coverage and financial resources. The idea is to reward clinicians for high clinical performance and quality care in a transparent manner, regardless of who they treat and their ability to pay, and alleviate some of the worry around bill collection for providers. Further, with success, this model will help MUSC better support its critical research and educational missions.

Celebrating graduates, reaching a new milestone

Hundreds of friends and family members joined the board on May 19 to celebrate the successful matriculation of 650 new health care professionals into the next stage of their careers during the 2017 MUSC spring commencement ceremony. Graduates represent all six MUSC colleges: Dental Medicine – 78, Graduate Studies – 49, Health Professions – 149, Medicine – 167, Nursing – 126, and Pharmacy – 81.

“Since June 2016, we will have graduated a record number of talented men and women – 1,016 students – from top-tier education and training programs during three graduation ceremonies,” Cole said. “Our board of trustees plays a central role in guiding and supporting our three-part mission of education, research and patient care, and they do it voluntarily often balancing very busy careers and personal responsibilities. We value the knowledge, experience, and commitment of each trustee. We are always delighted and grateful when our board members participate in commencement, one of the most rewarding traditions of our academic year.”

Below is a breakdown of graduates by college and demographics, including May, August, and December ceremonies:

Wofford College President Emeritus Benjamin Dunlap, Ph.D., delivered the commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. South Carolina State Sen. John Matthews Jr. of Orangeburg and Timothy Keating, senior vice president of government operations for The Boeing Company, also received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. Pamela Cipriano, Ph.D., RN, president of the American Nurses Association and a former administrator for MUSC, received an honorary Doctor of Science, honoris causa degree.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the state’s only integrated, academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and more than 850 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, in fiscal year 2019, MUSC set a new high, bringing in more than $284 million. Find out more about our academic programs.

As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development, more than 350 telehealth sites and connectivity to patients’ homes, and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. Learn more about clinical patient services.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $4.4 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.