Report to the Medical Center Board
November 18, 2004

Rita L. Warren
President, Medical Center Staff Advisory Council

Members of the Medical Center Board - thank you for inviting me to speak on behalf of the Medical Center Staff Advisory Council. I have been a member of the Vanderbilt family for 31 years and I consider it a privilege to serve the nearly 9,000 staff members as President of the Council. As stated in the By-laws, the purpose of the Council is three pronged – 1. To act as an advisory group with both administration and staff on problems and policies that affect the medical center and the people it serves; 2. To facilitate communication between medical center staff and administration on all levels; and, 3. To maintain effective communication among staff employees of VUMC. The Council uses several methods to accomplish our purposes. Our main method of communication is the monthly Council meetings, usually with a guest speaker. During the past year we have had presentations on the Children’s Hospital, performance development, parking and traffic, Health Plus and the new health initiatives, benefits, and Human Resources, to mention a few.

Administration shows its support of the Council by taking turns attending or sending a representative to the monthly meetings. Administration also meets with the Council officers on a quarterly basis to discuss staff’s issues and concerns and to offer assistance and guidance to the Council.
Other forms of communicating to the staff is the Council web site and council members sit on many advisory committees.

Council members generally feel that they have the opportunity and freedom to offer advice and voice opinions on matters concerning the staff. They also feel that they will be listened to. Evidence of both has been the institution of Short Term Disability and the not too recent increase in the tuition benefit.

Our fund raiser each year is a crafts fair. This year the proceeds totaled $4613. Last year we were able to give money to 20 different groups. Examples are pediatrics for books and camps, Psychiatry for the Youth Diabetes Support Group, pedometers for Cardiology patients, outreach materials and funds for a reading clinic for the Kennedy Center, and money for clothing for trauma victims coming through the emergency department. The bulk of the funds go to the Staff and Faculty Hardship Fund. The fund provides assistance to staff and faculty who are in need of temporary financial aid arising from hardships such as illness, death in a family, loss of property and other emergency situations. Each year the funds we generate have been matched by Administration and this has allowed us to serve a much larger sampling of our constituents.

A few issues that remain major concerns of the Council are 1) that ever present problem of the cost of parking for employees; 2) Paid Time Off (PTO) and/or a Sick Bank which would allow employees to contribute sick days to other employees who have experienced a health crisis that depletes their sick days and leaves them without income; and 3) Medical Benefits for retirees. We would like the institution to continue to consider allowing retirees to remain a part of the Vanderbilt health care system (with payments of premiums).

In the past months, the Council attendance has fallen dramatically. We are now trying to find ways to reverse this trend. It is very important to have departments represented on the Council and we are seeking all help to put this message across to all areas. I know that everyone is very busy and in many cases understaffed but we are only asking for one hour each month. Vanderbilt has a committed staff that is dedicated to providing the highest quality of service to Vanderbilt and the community, so I ask as you make decisions about Vanderbilt’s future that you consider the needs of the staff that contribute so much to Vanderbilt’s success.

In closing, I am proud to be a Vanderbilt employee and honored to represent the staff and Medical Center Staff Advisory Council.

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