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UMMC, Center for Justice form partnership to benefit those with HIV/AIDS

May 9th, 2013 No comments

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI — The University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi Center for Justice, both in Jackson, are forming a partnership aimed at providing free civil legal services for people living with HIV and AIDS.

The collaboration includes the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Crossroads Clinics Central and the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation.

It’s the state’s first medical-legal partnership.

The Center for Justice, a nonprofit public interest law firm, will offer on-site legal assistance at the Crossroads Clinics. The assistance will focus primarily on HIV-related housing and employment discrimination.

Marni von Wilpert Skadden, legal fellow at the Center for Justice, said in a press release that those with HIV and AIDS “often lack access to legal resources. This program will help ensure they are treated fairly so they can lead productive, fulfilling lives.”

UMMC was involved in finding earlier this year what researchers called a “functional cure” for HIV, when a toddler born to a mother with the virus showed no signs of it after going several months between treatments.

“While we have made significant medical advances in managing HIV/AIDS, the ultimate success in improving these peoples’ lives is getting them back into society as full productive members,” said Dr. Claude Brunson, UMMC professor of anesthesiology and senior advisor to the vice chancellor for external affairs. “This partnership aims to achieve that goal.”

Demand should be heavy.

The city of Jackson has the fourth highest HIV infection rate of all U.S. metropolitan areas that report HIV infection information, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Mississippi’s African-American population accounts for 78 percent of new infections, according to a recent MSDH study. Mississippi ranks 49th in funding civil legal services, according to the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission.

There are 97 medical-legal partnerships in the U.S. that serve 54,000 patients a year at more than 275 healthcare institutions.

Healthcare institutions team to build Habitat home

March 27th, 2013 No comments

Chief executives from four hospitals in Jackson will turn dirt Thursday on a Habitat for Humanity home.

Baptist Health Systems, St. Dominic Health Systems, University of Mississippi Medical Center and Health Management Associates have partnered to build the home on Englewood Street.

Employees from each healthcare provider (including students from UMMC) will participate in the eight-day building process this month and next.

This is the first time the institutions have collaborated to build a Habitat home.

“Taking care of people is what each of our institutions do on a daily basis, but we mostly do it in isolation from one another,” UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs James E. Keeton said in a press release. “The opportunity to work side-by-side to help our fellow man is pretty special. I think this will be a catalyst to help us find other ways to work together in the service of the greater Jackson community.”

The home is being built for Michelle Owens, a licensed practical nurse at Hinds Comprehensive Medical Center. She has two children, 10 and 5 years old. They currently rent a two-bedroom house, according to a Habitat press release, in which the plumbing regularly backs up, to go with doors that won’t close completely and a large hole in the bathroom.

Owens said the home would provide her and her children “peace of mind. There is a lot that comes with that — a feeling of security, being more comfortable and a better sense of stability for my family. I want my kids to have a home of their own, not just something we are renting.”

Leaders from the healthcare institutions will don hard hats during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Thursday at the construction site at 233 Englewood St in Jackson. The home will be the 556th built since Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson was founded in 1986.

UMMC lays off 115 employees

January 4th, 2012 No comments

University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson has just announced that it will reduce its workforce by 2 percent, by eliminating 90 vacant positions and laying off 115 employees.

That’s bad news for one of the state’s largest employers.

Here’s the full press release:

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is reducing the size of its workforce by approximately 115 employees today.

Coupled with a decision to not fill 90 vacant positions, the UMMC workforce will be about 2 percent smaller than it was at the end of 2011, according to Dr. James E. Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs.

Keeton said a number of factors combined to cause the cutbacks in staffing, but the most compelling are the poor economy and the increase in uninsured and underinsured patients.  Weak economic conditions have dampened demand for clinical services and increased the ranks of the state’s unemployed, who often lose their health insurance along with their jobs. 

“This is a very tough decision but it is imperative that we align our costs with our revenues,” Keeton said.  “I am truly sorry for the people who are affected but we have no other option.”

In addition to the poor economy, UMMC has been contending with the considerable costs of implementing an electronic health record in order to comply with federal regulations. 

Affected employees include administrators, technicians, nurses and support staff. 

“Health care is facing many unknowns at the local, state and federal levels and we have to take precautions to respond to that uncertainty,” Keeton said.  “Over the long term, the need for health care and the health professionals we’re training to provide it will only grow.”