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VPMA Voice

I am pleased to report that our recent presentation to the Board of Regents went very well. The Regents were all very engaged and inquisitive, especially with regard to our discussions around our efforts to moderate expenses, reduce length of stay, and implement Epic. As always, we appreciated the opportunity to educate and update them on the important work we are doing, as well as the challenges and opportunities we face. We were also quite pleased to be joined by student leaders of Dance Marathon, who showcased their amazing efforts to generously support oncology patients at the UI Children’s Hospital.

With the holiday season in full swing, I hope you will attend our upcoming Jingle & Mingle receptions this Wednesday, December 17. Festivities will take place from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in both the East Room of UI Hospitals and Clinics and in the MERF Atrium simultaneously. Please come celebrate the season with your fellow co-workers and share in some holiday cheer. I look forward to seeing you there. And for those of you who work off-campus or on the night shifts, be assured we’ve got you covered, too, and will be delivering some good cheer to your areas.

Due to the holidays, VPMA Voice will not be published for the next two weeks but will resume on January 5.

Best wishes to you and your family for happiness and good health this holiday season and throughout the coming New Year!

Signed, Jean Robillard

Initial expense reduction measures announced

Many of you are aware that the downturn in the economy is having an effect not only nationwide, but also locally. Several large industries, including well-known health care providers, have made significant reductions in operating expenses, including large-scale reductions in their workforces.

For UI Health Care to avoid involuntary reductions in its employee workforce, it is essential to reduce operating expenses as rapidly as possible. In the coming weeks, UI Health Care managers, department heads, and senior leaders will be asking for your assistance as they announce and begin implementation of expense reductions that will remove $25 million in operating expenses by the end of Fiscal Year 2009 (June 30, 2009). Every department and operating unit in UI Health Care is involved in the expense reduction effort.

The following is an initial list of expense reduction measures and dates of implementation. More information on these measures, including estimated savings, is available on The Point. Additional expense reduction initiatives will be phased in over the coming days and weeks and will be announced as they are ready to begin.

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Expense reduction measures–continued

Eliminate breakfast and lunch service in Colloton Commons and eliminate lunch service in the Atrium Dining Room. Effective December 24, 2008.
Manage procurement card purchases to a maximum of $500 per transaction. Effective December 15, 2008.
Focus Housekeeping time and effort on patient and visitor areas with office/administrative cleaning schedule changed to once a week. Effective January 1, 2009.
UI Physicians and UI Hospitals and Clinics working together to assign clinical staff based on patient requirements. Effective immediately.
Health Information Management will stop microfilming old medical records. Effective January 1, 2009.
Travel budgets reduced 75 percent overall. Effective immediately
Energy Audit. Began December 5, 2008. Results, recommended actions, and estimated savings will be reported when they are available.
Re-use of “surplus” furniture and equipment. In effect now.

Our immediate and enthusiastic participation in the expense reduction effort will allow UI Health Care to sustain quality patient care, education, and research and help avoid involuntary workforce reductions. Please remember to continue sending your suggestions for ways to reduce expenses to vpma@uiowa.edu. Below are a few of the more than 200 ideas we have received to date from staff and faculty members, and action being taken.

Some expense reduction ideas submitted by staff members to vpma@uiowa.edu

Suggestion: Stop or significantly reduce mass mailing of publications and put them online instead.

Response: It is impractical to totally stop these mailings, but we are trying to reduce the number we print and put more of them online not only to reduce expenses, but also to be more environmentally responsible. Two examples are: using print on demand to eliminate printing large quantities and instead printing only portions of publications that match audience interest; and soliciting readers prior to publication of the UI Health Care annual report to determine how many would like a traditional printed piece or would rather have an online version. It is anticipated that many will choose an online version allowing us to reduce the number of printed annual reports.

Suggestion: Standardize which meds come in pre-made bags, and which are mixed by the Pharmacy.

Response: This has already been implemented. The Pharmacy uses pre-mixed IV medications when they meet these criteria: appropriate dose and solution, and are less expensive.

Looking ahead

Loius Sullivan, MD, Former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Founding Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, will be the distinguished speaker during the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Week. His talk will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday, January 20, in the Prem Sahai Auditorium in the Medical Education and Research Facility.

The Speaking of Excellence series continues on Tuesday March 10, 2009, from noon to 1 p.m. in the East Room at UI Hospitals and Clinics, with guest speaker Steven Wartman, MD, PhD, president of the Association of Academic Health Centers.

This is a publication of UI Health Care