UTMB has some cool plans,
Outliers imagines employees of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are more familiar with armadillos than penguins. But some workers of UTMB will be packing their long johns and snow boots and heading south. Really south.
It seems UTMB has signed on as the medical provider for the U.S. Antarctic Program.
“We are no strangers to the ice, having operated there for the last decade, providing critical medical support on occasion. This new agreement represents an expansion of the work we’re already doing,” said Dr. David Callender, the president of UTMB, in a news release. Callender presumably will not be setting up an office on the continent, which last week recorded a temperature of negative 79 degrees and a wind-chill of negative 124.
Of course, this isn’t a matter of providing charity care; UTMB has signed on as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin through September 2016 with options to renew in two-year increments through March 2025. If all the options are exercised, the medical branch will receive a total of $60 million, according to the news release.
UTMB Health will create a Center for Polar Medical Operations in Galveston to manage the health services at three U.S. stations: McMurdo Station, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and Palmer Station. UTMB also will manage seasonal field camps and two marine research vessels. Each polar station has a physician, and McMurdo also has the equivalent of a Level 4 urgent-care center, according to the release. UTMB will medically screen the roughly 3,000 people who work at U.S. Antarctic stations each year.
Dr. Scott Parazynski, a former NASA astronaut, was named chief medical officer for the new center. “Antarctica is the most remote and extreme place on Earth to live and work,” Parazynski said in the release. “It’s our responsibility and privilege to assure (that) those who are traveling there are physically up to the challenge and have the medical support they need once they get there.”
English-only rule costs California hospital
Dozens of Filipino hospital workers in California will share a nearly $1 million settlement in a lawsuit claiming they were targeted by a rule requiring English only at work, federal officials said last week.
The settlement involves nearly 70 nurses and medical staff members who accused Delano (Calif.) Regional Medical Center of banning them from speaking Tagalog and other Filipino languages while letting other workers speak in their native languages, including Spanish, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission announced.
The lawsuit, filed jointly by the commission and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in 2010, accused the hospital of creating a hostile working environment for Filipinos by singling them out for reprimands and by encouraging other staff to report them. The medical center defended its English-only policy as essential to patient care. In a written statement, officials said the hospital did nothing wrong. Under California law, employers can require workers to speak English if there is a business necessity.
For decades, thousands of nurses from the Philippines have migrated to the U.S. to alleviate the nursing shortage. More than half of American nurses trained abroad are from the Philippines.
Cone Health goes big for celebration
It’s not every day that a healthcare system rents out an arena and plans a three-day bash to celebrate its culture with more than 7,000 employees, physicians and volunteers.
But at Cone Health, Greensboro, N.C., going big was a fitting way to set the tone that the system wants to be a leader in quality, service and cost.
Cone Health held its first networkwide People Excellence Celebration recently at the Greensboro Coliseum, where its staff members heard patient stories, listened to inspirational speakers and even heard President and COO Terry Akin belt out “Mustang Sally.” To get the crowd pumped, senior leaders also busted some moves onstage.
And 64 employees from Burlington, N.C.-based Alamance Regional Medical Center, who couldn’t be there in person, received streaming photos of the event aboard a “party bus,” where they donned outlandish hats and Hawaiian leis. Employees tweeted out their excitement with status updates like: “I LUV MY JOB. CONE HEALTH IS WHERE ITS AT. ALL SMILES.” (Yes, the event warranted all caps.) And: “I was told when I was hired that Cone Health celebrates anything and everything. They weren’t kidding.”
But the health system also believes that celebrating its culture generates results, citing Press Ganey data showing the hospital ranks in the top 10% nationally in employee, patient and physician satisfaction scores.
While it may be cold in Antarctica, UTMB workers will get a chance to frolic with penguins if they head for the South Pole.
Cone President and COO Terry Akin fires a T-shirt gun into the crowd during the People Excellence Celebration.