UMMC seeks greater collaboration on health issues

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mississippi is on the wrong end of several measures of health, and leaders at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine are reaching out statewide to help remedy one of the most glaring lacks.
“We’re No. 1 in cancer, diabetes, heart disease … but when you look at the physicians per capita, we’re last,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, associate vice chancellor for health affairs at the Medical Center campus in Jackson.
The school aims to add about 1,000 physicians to the state by 2025, but to do so it will need to create new residencies, fellowships and clinical rotations outside of Jackson.
Several senior officials from the University Medical Center came to Tupelo on Monday to visit with their counterparts at North Mississippi Medical Center, to speak to the Rotary Club and to meet with the editorial board of the Daily Journal.
“There’s a team right now at your medical center talking about ways we collaborate now and how we can collaborate more,” said Dr. Jimmy Keeton, who, as vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, is UMMC’s chief executive. “We’re here to tell what we’re trying to do not only to change our own personal image but also what we can do to correct the health care disparity in this state.”
UMMC and NMMC already collaborate with residencies in surgery and obstetrics/gynecology as well as with some clinical rotations for fourth-year medical students. Another residency is proposed in hospital medicine, a specialty whose practitioners take the lead in directing hospitalized patients’ care.
“The way it’s articulated to us is, ‘What can we do to work together?'” said Dr. Mark Williams, chief medical officer at NMMC. “One of our common goals is to increase the number of hospital-medicine physicians.”
Keeton envisions even more collaborations between the two hospitals.
“We are looking at the Holy Grail, one day, of Tupelo’s being a big part of our medical education, and rotating even medical students here,” he said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.