Story by Ruth Cummins | Photos by Jay Ferchaud

In 2010, the University of Mississippi Medical Center was the state’s safety net for the sickest of the sick, home of the sole children’s hospital, and the lone Level 1 trauma care center for adults and kids alike.

Five years later, that hasn’t changed. But just take a walk around UMMC’s 195 acres and more than 4 million gross square feet of buildings, and you’ll see vast transformation that’s taken place since 2010 impacting the Medical Center’s missions of health care, education and research – not to mention the neighborhoods of Fondren and Belhaven.

“A lot of the growth can be attributed to the progressive leadership of Dr. Jimmy Keeton,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, who succeeded Keeton as vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine in March.  “He always kept us moving forward, not for the sake of growth itself, but because it gives us more resources to help people lead healthier lives.  That was our ultimate goal then, and it still is now.”

The year 2010 saw ongoing construction of a new $5.8M children’s emergency department and trauma unit at Batson Children’s Hospital, which wrapped up in late 2011. It was part of more than $17M in construction projects in progress in 2010, with the Medical Center closing out in 2011 another $49.9 million in renovation projects.

Today, the sounds of progress are much louder. Construction is well under way for the Medical Center’s $45M Translational Research Center located across Central University Drive from the Arthur C. Guyton Research Center. The new $74M home for the School of Medicine is taking shape nearby, and a $20M parking garage is being constructed east of the School of Dentistry.

People traffic – in patients, students, visitors and employees – also has swelled since 2010. UMMC that year had 8,636 employees; today, it’s about 10,300. The Medical Center is experiencing record patient volume increases in nearly every care setting, from hospitalizations to Emergency Department visits to outpatient clinic visits. Other growth includes academic enrollment in the Medical Center’s five schools, from 2,412 in 210 to 2,984 in fall of the 2014-15 school year, and total Medical Center graduates, from 607 in 2010 to 863 this spring. Faculty ranks also have swelled, from 945 to 1,103 today.

And the Medical Center continues to prosper as an institution and catalyst for economic development. Total budget for UMMC in 2010 was $1.1 billion; in fiscal 2015, it was $1.6 billion.

The list of UMMC’s accomplishments over the past five years is long, but some of the highlights:

• The long-dormant liver transplant program was revived after 22 years in 2013. The abdominal transplant team led by Department of Surgery chair Dr. Christopher Anderson also performed the state’s first pancreas transplant that year. Since 2013, the team has transplanted 60 livers, 17 pancreases, and for the first half of FY2015 alone, more than 70 kidneys.

• Dr. Jorge Salazar, chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center and University Heart, came to UMMC in 2010 to begin the state’s first comprehensive children’s heart surgery program. Two years and 550 operations later, patient outcomes were better than the national average for children and babies that were expected to do worse. And in 2014, UMMC brought its full scope of adult heart care services under one roof with the opening of 49,000-square-foot University Heart.

• As the state’s leading telehealth provider, UMMC has increased its number of telehealth service sites from 91 in 2010 to 183 today. UMMC’s Center for Telehealth is bringing services to more and more hospitals and clinics statewide, coordinating the delivery of more than 30 medical and nursing specialties as well as at-home monitoring for patients with chronic illnesses. The future wave is to bring health-care services to corporate offices, schools, manufacturers and other sectors.

• Since 2010, UMMC has added a hospital in Grenada and several clinics around the metro area and state to its fold. The Medical Center’s Grants Ferry multispecialty clinic opened in 2010 in Flowood. Since 2012, UMMC has established four children’s specialty clinics across the state, the most recent in January 2014 in Tupelo.

• And UMMC’s center devoted largely to Alzheimer’s disease research this year celebrates its fifth anniversary. The Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia (MIND) Center has become a national leader in the search to crack the code of Alzheimer’s and in 2013 opened an outpatient clinic for patients with memory loss and cognitive impairment. The MIND Center’s innovative telemedicine program, TeleMIND, was launched in 2014.

UMMC is positioning itself for success in achieving a healthier Mississippi through its UMMC/2020 Strategic Plan, a road map for the next five years as the nation’s health-care system undergoes sweeping changes. The plan represents the best ideas from across the organization, and it is guiding UMMC’s strategic priorities and the many investments the Medical Center must make to fulfill its vision and mission of being a premier academic health science system.

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