MUSC trustees review COVID-19 impact as MUSC Health system prepares for patient surge
CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 2, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on the people and economy of the city and state were central topics at the combined committee and board meetings of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA). Augmenting its usual reports on education, research and clinical care, the MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees received an overview of the efforts MUSC leaders are taking to deter the spread of the too-often deadly virus while simultaneously maintaining business operations.
In line with the governor’s order to limit the size of gatherings to three or less, the board held its committee and board meetings via teleconference. Members of the public and the media were invited to join via a designated telephone line and dial-in code.
“Since the virus appeared, our team members across the health system and the university have been working on a multi-level strategy to address this challenge,” said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “Among our efforts, we’re working to mitigate the impact and flatten the curve of the virus. That means we are working to slow the rate of infection and ultimately lessen the number of people who require hospitalization at the same time so we don’t overwhelm the collective health care system. To achieve this goal, we’re using social distancing, e-learning and telework, and we’re ramping up virtual screenings and our in-house testing capability. Through telehealth, we screen patients from home, where they can’t infect others by walking into clinic waiting rooms.”
Cole further explained, “We are also fully aware of and balancing the adverse impact that these measures are having on our MUSC family and community.” Cole penned a recent guest column titled “After the wave: Life after the inevitable COVID-19 surge,” which was published as a commentary in the local newspaper.
To date, MUSC has screened some 23,000 patients through Virtual Care, screened 18,000 patients for COVID-19 testing and registered an average daily volume of almost 600 people at its drive-through specimen collection sites in West Ashley, Florence and Lancaster. MUSC Health was the first health care organization on the East Coast to open a drive-through specimen collection site in tandem with its online virtual care platform.
As a clinician-scientist, Cole shared that the MUSC research enterprise is also engaged, exploring multiple avenues to learn more about and stop the virus via laboratory testing, clinical trials and remote home monitoring systems.
Cole stressed that preparation and response are crucial elements required to moderate the intensity of the novel coronavirus. “We’re using every option available to position ourselves to treat an influx of patients like the ones we’ve witnessed in cities across the country and around the world,” he said. “MUSC teams are aligning with external partners and stakeholders, devising novel workforce and bed capacity plans and finding ways to innovate to meet the many challenges of these unprecedented times.”
Noting that several MUSC team members are awaiting FDA approval for developing a do-it-yourself 3D printed mask, Cole mentioned that the masks are already being produced to meet shortages at medical centers around the country, including in New York City, as well as internationally.
In other business, the board voted to approve:
- A modest increase in MUSC tuition and fees for out-of-state students, based on a market analysis of peer institutions. Final decisions on in-state tuition changes were deferred to a later date.
- Renovation of 2,500 square feet of vacant former bookstore space into new classroom space for the College of Health Professions at a cost of $625,000.
The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital, holding two days of committee and board meetings six times a year. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit.
About the Medical University of South Carolina
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 nearly 800 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. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
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. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.