A President's Perspective – May 2022

Dear MUSC family,

I hope that you all we able to pause and observe Memorial Day on Monday, a day of remembrance for those who have died while serving our country as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Honoring these service members is our acknowledgement that the rights and privileges we have today are because they gave all in the name of freedom. We should never forget the countless sacrifices that have allowed us this reality and on behalf of the enterprise, I want to recognize and thank those individuals and their families, both within our workforce and in the communities we serve, for their service on behalf of us all.

As we close out May and head full on into summer, I wanted to quickly touch base on some topics with you…

When tragedy strikes

The National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center, based at MUSC, is offering help in the aftermath of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The center’s team has assisted in the wake of multiple previous incidents across the country and has resources at the ready for Uvalde. Its experts know just how difficult the coming days, weeks and years will be. Their team has decades of “boots on the ground” experience when terrible and horrific events occur across the country, and we are fortunate that they assisting the Uvalde community during this incredibly difficult time. Learn more about the resources they offer and read a statement from center director and professor Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D. 

National baby formula shortage

I wanted to give a shout out to our awesome Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina (MMBSC) team, as well as our care team members in the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital (SJCH), for their incredible work to help mitigate the national baby formula shortage. We have seen some infants admitted to SJCH who either developed a health issue related to consuming homemade formula or because they needed a very special formula that wasn’t on the shelves. Our teams have also been getting createive to ensure that we have enough formula on hand as needed to take care of some of the most vulnerable patients we see.

And speaking of creativity, our MMBSC team recently did yeoman’s work to make additional breast milk supply coming in from new donor moms (who were looking for some way to help during the shortage) available for purchase at-cost for families struggling to locate formula. Below is some related news coverage that you might be interested in seeing, including a recent NBC Nightly News piece that featured an MUSC patient and family, along with one of our dieticians.

Similarly, this MUSC-based team has been featured in various national and statewide media, offering their insights, safety information and expertise. When you interface with these folks, please thank them for their hard work during this national shortage.

Paid parental leave for state employees

In mid-May, Governor McMaster signed a bill (that was originally filled in 2020 and frankly, was not considered likely to pass this year) that addresses paid parental leave for state employees. This is a HUGE win for our MUSC family! The changes that take effect in October 2022 will mean that individuals working within the University HR structure who qualify for six weeks of paid maternity leave will no longer have to exhaust all of their annual or sick leave in order to spend critical time with their newborns. With this change in state law, MUSC senior leadership intends to implement a similar paid parental leave policy so that ALL our MUSC family members have the opportunity to access this benefit if they so desire, including MUHA and MUSC-P team members. The details are not totally clear right now, as we await guidance from the South Carolina Department of Human Resources at the state level, so stay tuned to communications from our various HR teams as these changes are planned and then implemented in the coming months. Again, a wonderful development for our team!

Midlands division update

Can you believe it will be a year this August since the Midlands division joined our family? Time flies when awesome things are happening, and the energy and commitment to the MUSC mission by our Midlands care team members is palpable.

Pat Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for health affairs, and I recently visited the WIS broadcast news set in Columbia to talk with Judi Gaston about what’s happening in the Midlands and the “why?” behind MUSC’s growth in partnership and presence statewide.

If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to watch and hear a little more about why enabling high quality, local care is better for communities and how that ties into our larger mission of education, research and patient care.

As always, thank you for all that you do, every day, to support the mission of our institution and change what’s possible for the lives we serve.

Yours in service,

David J. Cole, M.D., FACS
MUSC President

Innovation in Action

Last week, MUSC and Butterfly Network, Inc. launched an affiliation to transform patient care, health education and medical research through the use of AI-powered, handheld, whole-body ultrasound at the point-of-care.

This affiliation will not only launch more widespread use of this innovative tool across our health system, it will also provide opportunities for collaborative research projects, exploration of its use and outcomes in non-traditional health care settings such as rural communities, and opportunities for our students to become familiar with and trained on this technology that some are calling the 21st century stethoscope.

This technology is poised to benefit our patients and providers in numerous ways from decreasing care costs to adding convenience to patients’ lives.

Take a look at this Forbes article related to the launch of our new affiliation to learn more.

Giving with Purpose

Calling all Darius Rucker fans –and I know there are a lot at MUSC! His new music festival, Riverfront Revival, benefits the music therapy program at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital (SJCH). Music therapy is part of the Arts in Healing program, made up of board-certified and registered therapists who work with our patients and families to heal through the arts. Our creative arts therapists are also here to support our care teams, helping them manage stress and prevent burnout. You may not realize this program is supported by generous donors and volunteers–and every dollar helps. One dollar from each Riverfront Revival ticket will support music therapy at the SJCH. Learn more or buy a ticket to the shows in October.

From Kathy

It was such an honor to be invited to celebrate the longevity and dedication of our 25+ years nurses as part of Nurses’ Week 2022. That means they have been AT MUSC for 25 years… what an accomplishment!

Sometimes I struggle to remember where I was and what I was doing last week; but my first day as a licensed nurse, now that, that’s still clear as if it happened yesterday. I’d never been more excited… or terrified… in my life. After all that time in school, all those practicums, the late nights studying, memorizing the human body, working with patients as a student nurse, I thought I was ready.

But when I hit that front door at Egleston Children’s Hospital in 1984 as a pediatric oncology nurse, I began to question everything. What if I messed up an infusion? What if I made the wrong call? What if I upset a family member? What if I didn’t remember a step in an important process? What if, what if, what if?!?!? And just like nurses always seem to do, my preceptor swooped in to save my sanity and mentor me on the realities of the job I had just started.

When I look back now, it’s clear to me that it was the wisdom, compassion, comradery and skill of the veteran nurses who took me under their wings that got me through. They gave me the confidence and real-world knowledge to navigate so much more than just how to deliver great patient care. These amazing nurses helped me fine-tune my skills, negotiate the floor politics, advocate most effectively for my patients’ needs and calm families when delivering the news that every parent never wants to hear.

The stories these nurses can tell – from when they started to today, hopefully approaching the other side of the COVID pandemic and what has surely been some of the toughest nursing they’ve ever had to do -- I can’t even begin to imagine. Nurses today have it tough – the severity and complexity of the illnesses they treat, the patient workload, the amount of time that goes to charting and rounding- all of it can seem overwhelming, especially to younger nurses who might be questioning whether or not they belong in this challenging, rewarding, heartbreaking, and impactful career.

The wisdom these nurses have garnered and shared with their fellow nurses, patients and their families is incalculable – no doubt that every one of them has made a huge, positive difference in thousands of lives. Their commitment and loyalty to their patients, fellow nurses and to this MUSC family is awe-inspiring to me.

And I don’t want to understate the importance of that dedication and the perseverance it requires, because it doesn’t just happen overnight – it happens shift by shift, day by day, night by night, working overtime and through professional and personal seasons.

I hope they continue to share their stories of resilience, professionalism, heartbreak and triumph with their fellow nurses. They’ve seen so much change in their years here – new buildings, new ideas and ways of doing things, new leaders, and now a pandemic – their longevity is a blessing to the nurses coming behind them.

“To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can, in spite of all we go through, is to be a nurse.” - Registered nurse and attorney Dr. Rawsi Williams


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