Dean Goldschmidt Hosts Town Hall Meetings to Update Faculty and Staff

In an effort to keep faculty and employees informed through a period of rapid change at the Miller School and UHealth-University of Miami Health System, Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., held a series of town hall meetings this month to discuss the medical enterprise’s progress and changes to his leadership team. He also invited and answered questions about a host of topics, including finance, patient access, research, and the recently launched Momentum2 fundraising campaign.

Dean Goldschmidt, who is also Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and CEO of UHealth, held three meetings, one each for clinical faculty, basic science faculty and general staff, to ensure participants had the chance to focus on issues relevant to them and their jobs.

“As we continue to evolve, the leadership will increasingly provide you with information to make sure no one is left behind or unaware of the significant changes that are taking place across the health system,” Dean Goldschmidt told the clinical faculty gathered in the Lois Pope LIFE Center on March 1 before introducing Jonathan “Jack” Lord, M.D., as the new chief operating officer of the Miller School and UHealth.

The Dean also announced the appointment of Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., an internationally known leukemia and stem cell transplant researcher and clinician as the new director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the promotion of Rafael Campo, M.D., chief patient safety and quality officer to the role of interim chief medical officer for University of Miami Hospital (UMH), a position that will help make “UMH one of the most accomplished hospitals in the country.”

Also appearing at the meeting was David Lubarsky, M.D., M.B.A., CEO of UHealth Physician Practice, who presented “Improving Access through Centralized Scheduling,” in which he emphasized the critical importance of improving patient access across the health system and outlined changes underway.

Among the improvements Lubarsky cited were: centralized insurance verification, a single telephone number for all patients to reach UHealth care providers, the recording of such calls for training purposes, a special access telephone number for employees, and increased quality control throughout the medical practice.

“Our goal,” Lubarsky said, “is to make the practice operationally excellent.”

The clinical meeting closed with a Q&A session, as did the following two meetings, which gave employees a chance to share their concerns and insights with Dean Goldschmidt, Lubarsky, and other leaders.

At the basic science meeting, Dean Goldschmidt acknowledged he devoted much of his first three years at the Miller School upgrading the clinical areas, and said he is now more focused on basic science departments. He also introduced William O’Neill, M.D., a veteran clinical researcher who served as executive dean for clinical affairs, as the new executive dean for research and research training who will lead the departments to ever brighter futures.

The Dean also lauded the contribution of all the basic science departments, noting that their success helped boost the school’s rise in the ranking of National Institutes of Health research funding. The Miller School climbed two spots to No. 39 in the amount of highly coveted grants awarded by the NIH during the 2010-11 federal fiscal year.

“NIH funding is getting more and more challenging, but as a medical school we have grown faster than any other medical school,’’ the Dean said, adding that, “we need to diversity our sources of funding.”

In response to various questions, the Dean assured faculty he was aware of the need for additional funding to close gaps in research awards, and for more graduate scholarships and lab space, and was working on those issues.

The final town hall meeting drew a diversity of staff to the Schoninger Research Quadrangle where Dean Goldschmidt gave a broad update on the progress of UHealth.

Audience members posed several questions, including requests for updates on facilities expansion, residency training and, in light of financial pressures at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the current state of the UM-Jackson relationship. The Dean assured the crowd that UM and Jackson are still partners and continue to work together to provide the best care for South Florida residents.

Lubarsky delivered the details of the improved patient access initiative and encouraged employees to strive for excellence in patient care every day.

“We want to truly make the patient experience one we can all be proud of,” Lubarsky said. “We are committed to making this not only a great research University, but a great place for patients. It is us together who will make a difference in transforming health care in South Florida.”

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