Monday, November 30, 2009

Say What?

GREENVILLE — The phones will soon be ringing at one new business, after all, that is its business.

Call Center Outsourcing Solutions, 747 W. Alexander, is scheduled to hold its grand opening 4:30 p.m. Tuesday,

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is scheduled to be on hand for the ribbon cutting; entertainment will be provided Eden Brent and Mississippi Slim.

“I’m extremely excited,” said Regina Luke, CEO, Call Center Outsourcing Solutions. “It has finally come together after three months of lots of hard work.”Call Center Outsourcing Solutions will be a fully operational call center taking inbound and placing outbound customer service calls. Luke said the business currently holds contracts with 28 Fortune 500 companies.

“We recently went to the Global Outsourcing Expo in New York City and we were the only English speaking call center there,” Luke said. “We had people lined up at our booth wanting to speak with us and to see what we could do for their business.”

One of Luke’s clients is happy to have made the move because according to Luke, the company was losing eight percent of its customers monthly due to language barriers.

“More and more of these jobs are coming back to America because of language barriers,” she said. “Customers get fed up with dealing with someone who they can’t understand, and this is good news for us.”

The call center will open their lines for business with 15 new employees and will add an additional 10 new employees each month until they’re up to 50, said Luke.

“We’ve had to temporarily outsource some of our contracts to other centers because of the delay in being able to open,” Luke said. “But we’re ready now and our business will increase over the next few months and we’re still actively seeking new clients.”

According to Luke, a positive for attracting new clients is that the business is a minority-owned American company, Luke said.

“We’re getting lots of positive feedback from the clients we already have and even potential ones,” she said. “The clients love the fact that we’re in an area that so desperately needs jobs. They like us because we’re an American owned company and that our customer service representatives are native English speakers.”

The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Language barriers? I am a native Deltan and I can barely understand our "native" language! "Let me axked you a nudda querstion bout dat"?

Who in the hell is going to use this service? Okay, I get pissed when I call Dell Computer Service center and get someone from India with a heavy accent, but they are generally polite, patient, articulate and educated, so you get the job done.

Physically, this new "business" still looks like a deserted building. "Call Center" is a generic word for everything from credit card scams to porn! They are generally a venue for businesses to disguise their identity from both the customer and the IRS.

Does anyone know what the actual "business" of this call center will be? It's not that I don't trust our city council to have done "due diligence" regarding this enterprise, but as P.T. Barnum once noted... there is one born every second!


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Truth Hurts!

Gov. Haley Barbour didn't just present his annual executive budget Monday: He proposed remaking state government with what he termed "very significant, major, dramatic ways to reduce spending."

"What I propose is to change the way we do a lot of things," he said.

That might be an understatement. His proposals would include:
  • Merging Mississippi University for Women into Mississippi State University.

  • Merging Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University into Jackson State University.

  • Reducing the number of school districts from 152 to about 100 districts.

  • Closing mental heath crisis centers and four Department of Mental Health facilities.

  • Cutting state agencies an average 12 percent.

  • Changing community college governance.

These are just a few of the proposals. Politically, any one of the proposals on Barbour's budget list would create a political firestorm. Proposals to close or merge MUW and Valley in the past left legislators bloodied and bowed. Reducing the number of school districts involves community pride, sports not to mention politics.

But while the proposed cuts are dramatic, the budget situation facing the state is dramatic as well.

Revenue for this fiscal year that began July 1 is $371 million below estimates.

That deficiency for the next budget year is expected to be $715.5 million.
The 2012 budget, which will be written in an election year, will be more difficult, Barbour warns.

For 2012, the gap could grow to $1.2 billion.

The options?

There are no good ones for lawmakers.

It means Barbour's cuts, their own cuts or finding new revenue. New revenue can only come from new taxes or fees, raiding special funds, using all of the state's "rainy-day" funds or a combination of all of those. None is politically popular.

Barbour has done lawmakers a favor by proposing politically unpopular cuts. That could make whatever they do more acceptable. The alumni of schools and other affected constituencies now will begin intense lobbying. But all Mississippians will be affected by this budget.

Lawmakers should not dismiss this executive budget. Some of these proposals - such as school district consolidation - make sense despite the budget problems. But, they also must not allow budget problems to reverse decades of progress in areas of education, health and public services.
Any course taken will be painful. It's time for ideas, innovation and political courage.
The governor's budget offers a starting point.

Like him or not, the Governor's budget is probably very conservative. No one likes to talk about cuts and consolidations, particularly when they directly impact your life and income, but it's time for us to pay the fiddler!

School consolidations are long overdue. Why pay Presidents and Superintendents hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do what? Consolidate public school districts and universities and get rid of the top heavy administrative costs... we can no longer afford them.

Health care... get ready to pony up also! Mississippi's Crisis Centers have become holding tanks for the few state hospital beds. There will always be a need for inpatient mental health facilities, but most patients could be treated more efficiently at community out-patient facilities. Crisis centers are a luxury that we can no longer afford!

And for those hospitals who feed at the Medicaid trough... guess what, it's dry! Obama-care or not, cost-containment and accountability are the new buzz-words for 2010.

For the last 20 years, Mississippi politicians have spent like drunken sailors, funding pork barrel projects that keep them in office and their "friends" employed. Well, that era is over. With taxpayers and jobs fleeing Mississippi on a daily basis, dark clouds are gathering over that "rainy day" fund that provides us with such false security.

I am not a fan of Haley Barbour, but his figures are correct! The only option we have is to cut spending drastically in this state, or suffer the consequences. There is waste in every public department of this state and most of us know it. In 2010, we will barely keep our heads above water due to millions in stimulus dollars. In 2011, they will remove our "life preservers" and see if we will sink or swim.

If we do not make significant cuts now, we will all be visiting the Titanic!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to Survive a Hospital Stay

It's not just DRMC...

Hospitals are scary places! If you have ever worked in one, you know this; however, most have not and still regard doctors and nurses as "saints". Nothing could be further from the truth... for the most part, they are overworked, under-educated, stressed out, human beings who have to work in totally unsafe environments called hospitals. Sure, many of them are doing the "best that they can", but when your loved one dies as a result of "preventable medical errors", that is little consolation.

You have probably heard about the frightening number of deadly medical errors that occur in hospitals nationwide. The key to preventing medical errors in hospitals is by being proactive and involved.

We aren't trained to be proactive when it comes to health care. Health care is rapidly changing and everyone needs to be involved in their own care. In many cases, doctors and nurses are "temporary" employees who move from place to place to earn a living. Often, they are thrown into jobs in which they receive no orientation or supervision.... and here's where the problems start.

What you may not know is that you do in fact have control over what happens to you in the hospital. Asserting yourself by asking questions and overseeing your own medical care is now essential. The life you save could be your own.

Nearly a quarter of a million deaths in hospitals nationwide were found to be preventable (The Fifth Annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, 2008). The good news here is the word "preventable".

Here are 12 tips on how to survive a hosptial stay:

1. Enlist a family member or good friend to act as your advocate. Ask this person to show up on a regular basis and get involved to oversee and monitor your care. He or she will act as your eyes and ears while you are in the hospital. More than 150 doctors and nurses I interviewed said this: "Hospital care is in crisis. You must have someone with you at all times in the hospital. Loved ones are patient's best advocates."

2. Get a notebook. Record your daily progress, medication names and dosages, procedures, treatments, and medical professionals names and contact info. Take notes on conversations with doctors and nurses. You can't remember everything that is discussed. You are recovering!

3. To prevent medication mistakes. Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year (Institute of Medicine). Write down your medications and dosages. List what the medication looks like, the shape and color of any pills, the names on the labels of bottles or IV bags. Create a detailed description as labels and bottles can look alike. Make sure that you recognize the medication when it is administered. If you don't, ask questions. Be assertive. Also make sure your allergies to medications are in your chart. Repeat this information to your primary nurses and physicians.

4. Meeting with your doctors. You want a face-to-face interaction with your doctors not only establish a relationship (doctors see so many patients and you want them to put faces with names) but to get a list of medications, treatments and procedures directly from this medical professional. This way, you can accurately go through a checklist to prevent medical errors. Ask your loved one to join you during doctors' rounds so he or she can also make a list and help you go through your checklist. It's handy to have someone there to ask questions you may have forgotten. Have your notebook handy. Prepare questions ahead of time about the your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

5. Establish a relationship with your primary nurse. No other nurse will do. Hospital staff dress alike so make sure you know the registered nurse who is responsible for your daily care. Get personal. Show appreciation to your primary nurse. The more good will you express to this professional, the more attention you will receive. And more attention translates to the probability of fewer errors. Your advocate can ask if he or she can help with your care. This also reinforces involvement on the part of family and friends. Doctors and nurses I interviewed all said that if a patient has involved family members, they will get more attention. Have a loved one bring in a few thank you cards for you. Address them to your primary nurses (a different one at night and during the day and you could have a new nurse every day) with a note from you about how much you appreciate their good care of you.

6. Humanize yourself to your primary nurses and physicians. Think about how many patients these medical professionals see in a year. You want the medical professionals to see you as a human being, not as the "shoulder surgery" in room 209. You want a personal connection. Offer details about yourself, your friends and family, but keep it brief. What do you do for a living? How many children do you have? Do you have animals at home? Ask the nurse or doctor about him or herself. Find common ground.

7. To prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infectious diseases Among the most virulent are MRSA and pneumonia, ask every person who comes in contact with you, including the physicians and nurses, to wash their hands or put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves before touching you. Create a sign that is placed above your bed that says, "Please wash your hands before touching me." Place antibacterial gel next to your hospital bed and ask everyone to use it. If you can arrange for a private room, do. It cuts down on the number of people who travel in and out of your hospital room and decreases the spread of disease.

8. To prevent surgery on the wrong body part. Before you enter the operating room, you or your advocate should ask to see the surgeon to go over your name, birth date, type of surgery, and the correct site on your body to be operated on. If the surgeon is not available, ask to see the anesthesiologist and nurses involved in your case and repeat this same checklist with each one.

9. Holidays, weekends and nights. Medical errors increase at these times. Nurse-to-patient ratios increase and doctors can be away. Ask your advocate to be with you as much as possible or ask them to hire a sitter, companion or private duty nurse to fill in.

10. Ask questions. Many people are afraid to question their nurses and doctors. Don't be. If a medication looks new or different, ask what it is and what it is for. If something seems amiss, or you are surprised by some piece of information such as orders for discharge when you thought you were going to be in the hospital for another two days, ask questions. As long as you are polite and respectful, your request should be met with acceptance. If you don't understand something, ask questions. This is your health and well being we are talking about. Be assertive.

11. Form a Family Advocate Team. If your loved one who acts as your advocate works or is too busy to be with you 24/7, ask that another two to three family members or good friends share shifts to be at your bedside. Keep the notebook in your room and ask that everyone share the task of taking notes and acting as watchdogs.

12. To prevent bed sores. If you've had surgery or if you're recovering from an illness, you may be in bed for a period of time. If you are not turned frequently enough you could develop bed sores. Ask your primary nurse§ or nurse's aid to turn your body often enough to prevent bed sores. Some 503,300 patients admitted to U.S. hospitals in 2006 suffered from a bedsore that developed either before or during their stay, reported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The bottom line is trust no one! If you or your loved one needs around the clock care... you better be willing to provide it, because hospitals can not meet that need. We have no problems questioning our car mechanics, plumbers or home repairmen about their skills and qualifications, so why do we "revere" health care workers?

A competent doctor or nurse will not take offense by your questions and will usually be receptive to your interest. Any health care professional who is evasive, rude or simply refuses to help you understand the disease process is a "red flag" who needs to be immediately reported to hospital administration.

The safest place to be when you are ill... is in your home.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Mississippi's Next Great Hospital

GREENVILLE — Delta Regional Medical Center is outperforming hospitals on both the state and national levels according to Joint Commission reports, Ray Humphreys, the hospital’s chief executive officer told the Washington County Board of Supervisors last week.

He said the hospital’s Joint Commission report was very good. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 17,000 health care organizations nationwide, and its certification is recognized as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

“We’ve had a very good year, and we’ve got a lot to be excited about,” said Humphreys. “We’ve seen significant growth in our emergency care and within the heart center.”

There’s been so much growth in those areas that Humphreys referred to it as “booming.” The renovation of the two departments has garnered growth in utilization of the facilities, allowing DRMC to enlist the services of a board-certified emergency physician — there are only nine in the state. In addition, Humphreys said, DRMC ahs received a verbal commitment from a heart surgeon to join the staff of the hospital’s heart center.

“Heart procedures have been increasing and our heart center is outperforming state and national averages with ‘door to balloon’ procedures which is the time a heart patient arrives and to the time they’re being treated for a heart emergency. The average is 90 minutes, and our time at Delta Regional is 59 minutes,” said Humphreys.

July 2010 is the anticipated opening for the Delta’s only neonatal intensive care unit which will provide a high level of intensive care to premature infants. There are currently 11 NICU’s in the state, and Delta Regional has hired a neonatologist to fill this dire need.

“It is unacceptable to have the highest death rate among infants in the state,” Humphreys said. “If Delta Regional doesn’t do it, it wont be done.”

Humphreys too reported that DRMC could see a higher profit on it’s bottom than anticipated. He said the hospital could see approximately $800,000 more than their $3 million estimate for the end of the fiscal year. The final numbers according to Humphreys should be available from the auditors by the end of December.

Atta boy, Ray! Baffle them with BS when you need statistics on your side. The truth is that the "Joint Commission" is an elective, purchased certification that costs the hospital upwards of $40,000 a year. It increases the hospital's reimbursement they recieve from Federal programs and is the equivalent of having a "player's card" in a casino.

Now, if you pay me $40,000 a year to "certify" you as a safe hospital, the chances are good that you will pass! It's like hiring your brother as your home inspector... duh?

Sure, DRMC is doing well! It is the only show in town. The numbers of sick and indigent patients are steadily increasing while taxpayers are fleeing the Delta. Medicaid and the state are broke and we are about to experience Obama-care, which will "level" us all.

So, here we go again Ray! More promises of new services and delusions of grandeur. If DRMC opened a tattoo parlor and bought out all of the competition... that would make DRMC the BEST tattoo parlor in Greenville!

Gotta luv it!