University of Iowa Health Care Principal’s second finalist tackles growth and staffing issues

IOWA CITY — The second of two finalists for the highest-ranking positions at the University of Iowa College of Health Care and the UI School of Medicine said on Monday the major concerns, issues, and challenges facing the companies he aims to lead. We talked directly about incentives. Collaboration, patient satisfaction and staffing.

Among the issues raised in the public forum as a finalist for the University of Illinois School of Medicine’s Mark I. Rosenblatt University School of Medicine Vice President of Medicine was UIHC capacity constraints.

The University strives to provide the people of Iowa with access to world-class care. is.”

But Rosenblatt said, “It seems to be a place where patients with primary and secondary diseases also come, which means that the healthcare system is overwhelmed.”

In his current role, Rosenblatt is also Vice President for Physician Services at the University of Illinois Health, and himself says, “The demand for care at the university’s health centers is constant, and many urban areas Even community hospitals are relatively empty in Chicago.”

Acknowledging that the UIHC also has a neighboring hospital without similar capacity restrictions, he proposed both building and cooperating, as the UIHC is doing.

“I think the University of Iowa has a very ambitious but realistic capital plan for building the capacity of the health care system,” he said. “We need to scale and I think that’s part of the solution. Now, he said, one question is how can we partner with community hospitals?”

Mercy Iowa City, just two miles east of the main UIHC campus, is enduring an economic upheaval as it ends its partnership with Des Moines’ MercyOne and is looking for new collaborators. UIHC made an offer to buy Mercy last year, but the deal never materialized.

“I know the University of Iowa Health Care is trying to partner up and buy a local hospital,” Rosenblatt said. “I think it has to be another part of the solution. Patients trust the University of Iowa brand, they want to be treated by world-class doctors and they want to be treated within the University of Iowa facilities. is.

innovative building

Take a look at UIHC’s plans for a massive 842,000-square-foot inpatient tower on its main campus. Add to this his new $525 million hospital in North Liberty, new academic and outpatient facilities, and a current inpatient tower and crammed emergency room — Rosenblatt says he has also overseen significant building projects. said.

“This is the new ambulatory, specialty care building we built in Chicago,” he said, describing a photo of the project. I had the opportunity to be part of the leadership group involved in planning this building.”

That project involved innovation and a rough idea of ​​how to use the latest technology to operate more efficiently.

“For example, if there is a $2 billion investment in a new facility at the University of Iowa, is there something special that we can do here?” he said. What innovative things can or should we do to create the hospitals of the future?”

This could include technology, digital-enabled capabilities, and robotics.

“I see this as a unique opportunity to really set the direction for what the University of Iowa can do for the future of healthcare and to be innovative in the field.”

two finalists

Rosenblatt, who has been with the University of Illinois Health System since 2014, initially served as Professor and Department Head of Ophthalmology and Vision Science at the new UIHC and College of Medicine.

His visit came a week after UI welcomed its first nominated finalists — Professor and Chair of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine and Chief of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory Healthcare This is Dennis Jamison. Jamieson also spent nearly 20 years at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both were named finalists after an initial search to replace outgoing Vice President for Medical Affairs and Carver School of Medicine Dean Brooks Jackson. That initial search brought her four finalists together on campus in August, but the selected candidate declined the job “due to family obligations,” and UI restarted the process. .

big question

On Monday’s public forum, Rosenblatt addressed big issues like how we’ve supported diversity. What he does to “protect access to abortion”. Lessons learned from COVID; and how UI Health Care is staffing its new building.

Addressing staffing issues, Rosenblatt acknowledged rising labor costs and the UIHC’s partial reliance on traveling nurses. To retain and attract more of his UIHC staff, he said, “you need to value people.”

“It’s partly about the money, but also about the ability to create places where people want to work and enjoy working,” he said.

UIHC could, for example, create a larger pipeline of nurses, pharmacists and dentists by working with more colleges and universities.

“And how can we use technology to do this kind of work with smart hospitals and robots?” he said. “It will reduce the size of the health system in terms of having to provide more routine care, freeing up nurses and others to provide the high level of care they can provide.”

Particularly on the question of how UIHC will staff its new North Liberty campus, Rosenblatt said, “It’s certainly going to continue to put some pressure on the labor market in an already tight labor market.” said.

“It will be a new hospital. It will likely be a beautiful and attractive place to work, so I hope it will be attractive to the people who work there,” he said. “But it’s a challenging endeavor.”

When asked about abortion, Rosenblatt basically learned to handle political issues with caution.

“Many times, as dean of a medical school, we have been asked to delve into the political sphere, but I would say that we have always tried to avoid the political sphere because we are political. Because it’s not home,” he said. “We are not lawyers. We are medical professionals. We are doctors.”

Abortion is legal in Illinois, said Rosenblatt.

Trainees from other states also come to his campus for “important training.”

“But if we start digging into politics, I think it threatens our ability to actually bring about change,” he said. “Because whatever we seem to be doing starts to get politicized, we probably won’t be trusted by at least half the people in the country.”

COVID lesson

Trust, or lack thereof, has led to pandemic positivity, even as it has forced healthcare operations to be agile, innovative and resourceful to mass-produce vaccines in historical times. is one of the results that cannot be said.

“The most unfortunate part of the COVID-19 pandemic may be the lack of trust in science, even if science and medicine provide such treatments.” If we have, there has been, frankly, probably often politically motivated disinformation that undermines our attempts to save people and save populations.

“What’s disappointing is how easily the loss of faith and science has eroded it, even in the midst of a pandemic,” he said. I think it should be a major focus of the . How do we restore trust than trust?”

Vanessa Miller is in charge of higher education at The Gazette.

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