Message from the Interim Chair, Ben Clyburn, M.D.

Dr. Ben Clyburn

July 31, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the new academic year, many things seem familiar, including the arrival of our outstanding group of new interns. However, at the same time, many things are different as we evolve as a department from the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has required our full-time focus over the past four months, and we face a number of critical challenges as we go forward during these uncertain times. Importantly, we are adjusting our clinical care patterns to grow our ambulatory volume in all divisions. This is to ensure that all patients can return for the care that they need or want in a structured, safe, and welcoming environment. In addition, our team has done an outstanding job of ramping up tele-health/virtual visits over the past several months, with our providers now seeing over 750 patients a day via virtual visits (compared to almost no virtual visits pre-COVID-19). Using this and all of our newly learned capabilities, I expect that we will become more efficient as a department and be able to provide care to more patients than we saw prior to the pandemic.

Despite the challenges faced by COVID-19, FY20 was a successful year for the Department across our core mission areas of research, education and patient care. I am proud of the work we have accomplished this year in the clinical and research arenas, with several notable achievements:

Clinical:

See below our current Telehealth Visit and Clinic visit dashboard:

I would also like to recognize and congratulate our physicians and advanced practice providers who ranked above the 95th percentile in patient satisfaction on the CG-CAHPS survey for all four quarters of FY20 (highlighted below). Congratulations to all our providers for a job well done! Thank you for the extraordinary care and service that you provide to our patients and the vital role that you play in our community.

Research:

FY20 Grants Awarded: 190 grants totaling $43,419,534

FY20 Research Expenditures:


I would also like to highlight all the Current Active Federal Awards:

I would personally like to recognize and thank everyone for your outstanding contributions during these trying times and I look forward to a promising FY21.

Sincerely,

Ben Clyburn, M.D.
Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Medicine

 

April 29, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I want to personally thank each and every one of you for the many ways you are rising to meet the COVID-19 crisis - both now and in the days to come. Facing enormous challenges, you are responding with courage, resolve and exemplary professionalism. We have spent the past three months discussing, planning, preparing, projecting and implementing our response as best we can.

Our team’s ingenuity, creativity and commitment to excellence in the face of this pandemic inspires me daily as we continue to find innovative solutions to care for our patients, educate our residents and conduct research during this crisis.

I know that you all have been anxious about the financial toll this pandemic is taking on our health system and university so I would like to focus on the steps we as a department are taking to address and mitigate these challenges.

As mentioned in Dean DuBois’s April 15 newsletter, COVID-19 has resulted in a drastic reduction in revenues coming into the College of Medicine and MUSC Health this quarter. The College of Medicine task force comprised of clinical chairs and department administrators has been charged to develop a plan to address these financial challenges until the pandemic is under control. This plan will be rolled out in three phases to develop plans to mitigate the impact.

Phase 1—Q4 FY20
Phase 2 – Q1 FY21
Phase 3 – beyond Q1 FY21

Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of our clinical faculty and other providers, the COM and practice plan were in great shape heading into these challenging times. As of February 2020, the Department of Medicine was at 106% of budget with respect to wRVU productivity. The surplus in productivity generated through the first eight months of the fiscal year has helped us to somewhat mitigate the downturn in productivity during this quarter.

Additionally, our team has done an outstanding job of ramping up tele-health/virtual visits over the past several weeks, with our providers now seeing over 500 patients a day via virtual visits (compared to almost no virtual visits pre-COVID-19). There has been some terrific work by a whole team of individuals, and this will recoup some clinical productivity to help mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19, and more importantly will help us to meet the needs of our patients during this challenging time. As a system, we need to continue to focus on this and keep up these virtual visits!

See below our current Telehealth Visit and Clinic visit dashboard:

Telemedicine trends

Telemedicine trends graph 

Recovery and the Path Forward:

As part of recovery efforts now underway, we are working on a gradual and staged plan for transitioning the university towards normal operations. This plan will include critical criteria that will help ensure the health and safety of our workforce and that will not mandate everyone return to the workplace at once. We intend to remain at our current state of modified operations until at least May 11 with a few exceptions:

  • With the gradual reopening of clinical operations, there will be a need to increase the number of university employees deemed essential who support clinical operations. You will be notified if this includes your team.
  • We intend to gradually increase active laboratory and clinical research under very specific safety guidelines. Specific dates and criteria for this process will be distributed next week.

As May 11 approaches, we will provide updates regarding our transition plans and how you and your team may be affected.

While the days and weeks ahead are full of uncertainty, I am confident that as a department, we will emerge in unison and stronger than ever. Our entire department is meeting this crisis with fortitude, fellowship and resiliency, and I’m grateful to each of you for your devotion to both the patients we care for and each other.

Please continue to pay close attention to all university and health system communications for information that will affect you and your area. Updated information and resources may be found on the Department of Medicine's website.

I will provide COVID-19 updates that are more targeted to the department's needs as we move to the next recovery phase of the pandemic. As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly with any concerns you have.

Please stay safe and well. We will get through this together.

Sincerely,

Ben Clyburn, M.D.
Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Medicine