Archived Town Hall Questions & Answers

The following questions were submitted to the EAC prior to the Town Hall Meeting on 11/1/2017. Answers are listed below:

Question: I have worked at UTMB for over 25 years. During all of that time, making an appointment for to see my doctor or to visit a specialist has generally involved a wait of weeks, if not months. (I realize that in urgent situations I can see someone fairly quickly, but that is not the same. I usually have no history or relationship with that person.) During that same timeframe, UTMB has announced initiative after initiative aimed at cutting those wait times. They never seem to have any effect. As UTMB extends its reach and engages more and more new patients, I’d like to know: Are extended appointment wait times still a concern, and when can we expect to see an improvement?

Response from Dr. Rex McCallum:

As our Health System has grown in the past few years, UTMB has made a concerted effort to improve access to our clinics. Specific efforts over the past year have included:

  • Developed patient-centered benchmarks specific to departments and divisions so we can accurately measure performance in this area
  • Performance against benchmark is monitored regularly by clinical leadership, including our physician leaders
  • Ensured that all clinical departments had a goal around reducing the time it takes to get an appointment
  • Worked with individual departments on plans of action and contingency plans to meet related goals
  • Redesigned the scheduling system
  • Introduced more advanced practice providers to our system to enhance access

As a result of those efforts, a comparison of FY17 to FY16 showed that 60% of clinical departments improved their median new patient lag time, demonstrating an average 10-day decrease.

We do still have work to do in the 40% that either saw no change or saw an increase in wait times for an appointment. There are a variety of reasons for this, including a need to replace faculty physicians who have left UTMB. (And it’s worth nothing that some of those areas already had fairly short wait times in the FY16 baseline—usually within a week.)

That said, we will apply what we’ve learned so far to move those numbers in the right direction and to make further improvements throughout our system. This will remain a focus for our clinical leadership.

In the meantime, we want everyone to be aware of our Access 2-CARE program for employees and their dependents. By calling 772-CARE, you can schedule appointments with UTMB primary care providers on a same-business-day or next-business-day basis, and we are able to provide appointments with certain specialty clinics within 7 business days.

While it is true that you may not be able to see your usual primary care provider on a same-day or next-day basis, your provider’s colleagues have access to your UTMB medical record and can communicate with your usual provider about your visit.

If you have not yet experienced these improvements in getting appointments with UTMB, please let us know. You can call the Access 2-CARE phone line (409-772-2273) to discuss your concerns.

Question: Will nurses be getting raises this year?

Response from HR Compensation (approved by Deb McGrew):

Nursing staff adjustments are determined by market information to ensure external competitiveness while considering the financial impact on UTMB. HR Compensation performs a market data assessment of nursing related jobs on an annual basis and is currently working with Health System leadership on the analysis of this information. If a job has been identified as not being market competitive, compensation will update the salary range then employees will be reviewed on a case by case basis and salaries adjusted appropriately to ensure proper placement in the salary range.

Question: We’ve had a couple of questions come in regarding Disaster Comp time that was awarded to Faculty and Administrative/Professional employees after Hurricane Harvey. Can you comment on what was done and why? Were any Classified Staff included?

Response from Human Resources (edited)

The Disaster Comp time started with a request from HR for the executives to determine what, if any, compensation would be granted to classified (bi-weekly) employees who are exempt from overtime but who were required to shelter in place during Harvey.

There is no requirement under the law to give Classified Exempt employees any compensation beyond their weekly salary, but there is a provision in UTMB’s IHOP Policy 3.1.1, Staffing During Adverse Events, that allows for Classified Exempt employees to receive a lump sum form of compensation depending on the nature and severity of the event.  For this event, the employees were compensated with leave time in lieu of cash.  (Classified employees who are eligible for overtime were paid for their service during Harvey, in accordance with the law.)

Executive leadership has discretion to include other employee classifications in the Disaster Comp, including A&P and Faculty.  The broader thought behind this is that many A&P employees and faculty were engaged in mission critical activities that helped us successfully pull through this disaster, and our executive leadership team wanted to recognize those efforts.

The following questions were submitted to the EAC prior to the January 27, 2016 Town Hall Meeting.

Question: Does UTMB give cost of living raises or is that set by the state? There’s no apparent opportunity for promotion in our department, so should I be looking for a better paying position in another department? I would be happy to take on more or different responsibilities.

Response (from Human Resources):

Multiple state regulations govern salary administration in state agencies and institutions of higher education, and UTMB is committed to ensuring that compensation is competitive relative to external market practices. UTMB’s compensation and benefits package is designed to motivate employees. Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are tied to inflation and don’t reward employees based on performance. In many years, such as the last two, a cost-of-living adjustment would have been much lower, if needed at all, because of the low rate of inflation in our area. By focusing budgeted dollars on employee job performance and outcomes, employees have a greater opportunity to earn a larger annual increase in wages.

The decision to leave one position for another within UTMB is a serious and personal one. An internal transfer is one way to potentially increase your pay, but it is not the only way. The most common types of base salary increases at UTMB are as follows:

Promotional increases as a result of higher or greater level of job responsibility

Merit increases based on job performance

Market adjustments, when necessary, to align pay with the external marketplace (Greater Houston Metropolitan Area)

Equity adjustments, when necessary, to remedy internal salary compression

Reclassification as part of a logical career progression


Question: Why is the UTMB parking lot west of the 1900 Harborside Building (former Lipton Tea Building) now paid public parking for the cruise ship terminal? Do the funds raised here come back to UTMB or the cruise terminal?

Response (from Auxiliary Enterprises):

The parking lots at 1900 Harborside in Galveston were underutilized after many of the employees who worked in that building were relocated to other UTMB facilities. After ensuring there was more-than-adequate parking on the east side for employees remaining in the building, the university decided to lease the west portion of the parking lot. The leasing company is using the lot for all types of public parking, not solely for the cruise ship terminal. UTMB Auxiliary Enterprises does receive commission on the use of the parking spaces. Since the lease went into effect in November 2015, Parking Operations has received more than $6,000 dollars in commission proceeds. This revenue is put right back into the operation and helps offset incurred expenses.


Question: (from CMC) Would you be able to visit Carole Young Medical Facility and look at our situation? We need help getting funding to fix a broken ceiling, old flooring and old chairs and to remodel nursing units. We don’t need anything extravagant, just clean and environmentally friendly.

Response (from Dr. Owen Murray):

I have asked the Associate VP of Inpatient Operations (Anthony Williams) to assess the Carole Young facility and provide to both Dr. Linthicum at TDCJ and myself any relevant findings. He will follow up on this issue and provide a formal report next week.We routinely request money from the Legislature to update our equipment.  We also keep TDCJ notified of any facility repair or environmental concerns that may arise and request repair or the need for future capital funding.


Question: As a director, I’ve offered some informal department employee satisfaction surveys; however, it’s been some time since UTMB has administered an Employee Satisfaction survey organization-wide. How soon is it anticipated that UTMB will engage in the next employee satisfaction survey?

Response (from Business & Finance):

UTMB senior leadership has approved a plan to change to a new survey vendor in 2016—namely, the Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) employee engagement surveys. The AAMC engagement survey will be piloted in the Academic Enterprise by June 2016. After the pilot, we will evaluate whether to use the AAMC survey for Health System and Institutional Support areas or select another survey vendor.


Question: Nurses are very frustrated with the issue of tuition reimbursement pay and they deserve better. Currently, our program pays $1350 per year tax free. Other hospitals in the Texas Medical Center reimburse their staff $5,000 or more per year. This concern was raised three years ago to Nursing Leadership but up to this time, no definite answer has been provided to staff other than now it is tax-free.

Response (from Human Resources):

Tuition assistance is offered in addition to UTMB’s robust benefits programs (i.e., health care and welfare plans). Our tuition program is designed to aid employees in furthering their education and improving job performance while promoting the university’s mission and vision. Under UTMB’s current policy, reimbursement for tuition and covered fees cannot exceed a maximum of $1,350 per fiscal year and a lifetime total of 24 semester hours. This maximum value is in line with, or 68% of, UT System’s allowable annual limit of $2,000. The program is reviewed during the annual budget process to determine financial eligibility and impact on our overall business strategy and objectives.


Question: I’m worried about the safety of pedestrians who cross Harborside Drive to various parking lots and buildings. Glare from the sunlight makes it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians who are attempting to cross the road, and many drivers speed through the area in order to catch a green traffic light. What can be done to make the area safer for employees and visitors?

Response (from UTMB Police):

Speed and safety awareness are ongoing concerns. While UTMB Police periodically enforce traffic on Harborside Drive through deployment of RADAR units, a long-term solution involving changes to signals or speed limits would be under Texas Department of Transportation authority. The UTMB Police Department has contacted TxDOT with the concern. For now, it is important to increase safety awareness by both drivers and pedestrians. If you are attempting to cross Harborside Drive, please remember that oncoming vehicles may not see you.

Dr. Callender’s Town Hall “On the Road,’’ CMC Conference, Sept. 2, 2015

Question: In June 2015, we were told that we would be getting a 5 percent raise in September 2015. Will there be a raise for employees in September 2015?

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray):

Eligible UTMB-CMC employees will receive salary market adjustments in their Sept. 18 paycheck or in their first October paycheck (depending on whether you are paid bi-weekly or monthly). The adjustments were approved by the 84th State Legislature. To be eligible for the salary market adjustment, you must be in your current job classification for 6 months with satisfactory job performance. Satisfactory job performance means not under formal disciplinary action—specifically, you have not received a formal written reminder/warning or above in the past six months. If you have not been in your current job classification for at least 6 months, your salary market adjustment will be effective the pay period after you complete 6 months in your current job classification. Additionally, if you have received formal disciplinary action (written reminder and above) in the past 6 months, your salary market adjustment will be effective the pay period after 6 months have lapsed since you received the disciplinary action and have shown improvement and/or received no additional formal disciplinary action. [These guidelines are consistent with the State Comptroller’s requirements. A very small percentage of CMC employees’ salary market adjustments will be delayed due to these requirements.]

Question: Is Campus giving any consideration to changing the current weight of performance measures, specifically Key Performance Goals which are weighted 60% versus technical goals which are 20%?

Response: (from Dr. Ronald McKinley, Vice President, Human Resources and Employee Services)

There are no plans to change the weighting of the goal categories for FY2016. The Technical Competency section is not for goals but rather for rating employees on their technical abilities to perform job functions specific to their positions. Important outcomes from the application of technical skills or techniques should be captured and measured in the Key Performance Goals section.  Human Resources will partner more closely with Health System leadership to ensure that instructions about weighting the individual goal statements are made available in a timely manner.

Question: Hospital Galveston seems to be full every day and we have to send 30 to 40 patients off site every day – what is the future plan for offender patients?

      Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray)

We are working with TDCJ to craft a 5-10 year plan to manage our hospital care. The plan will address not only hospital and clinic capacity but facility infirmary capacity as well. It is the infirmary capacity which is the main driver of our increased hospital census at HG. Other drivers of hospital care include our growing 55 and older, end stage liver disease, and end stage renal patients. It will take collaboration, creative planning and Legislative support to address this most challenging and costly area of CMC.

Question: Why did all the documents get switched over to ispace? Everything takes longer to get to and the computer runs slower.

      Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray)

We recognize that the EMR and IT services speeds require attention. Unfortunately the Legislature did not fund any of the CMC capital item request which would have helped to address the speed issues we are facing. We will continue to work with campus to improve our IT speed over the next year, while keeping an eye on the necessary data collection to assist with our request to the Legislature next session.

Question: Can CMC medical staff have something like a pay flex program for purchasing scrubs & shoes for work like some hospitals do?

Response: (from Philesha Evans, Assistant Vice President for HR’s Direct Entity Services, including CMC):

There currently is not such a program in place.

Question: Does UTMB offer any tuition discounts on clinical education for CMC staff?

Response: (from Philesha Evans)

The tuition reimbursement program has been revised for FY16. Information is available on the Tuition Reimbursement web page at CMC employees could qualify for the program in FY16 as long as they currently are in an RN position and meet other eligibility requirements. Please see the web page for more information.


The following questions were submitted to the EAC prior to the Town Hall Meeting on07/10/2015. Answers are listed below:

Question: The Employee Advisory Council has received quite a few questions about revised holiday schedules for those working in UTMB clinics. Can you address?


Leadership is aware of the questions that have been raised, and is in the process of clarifying the details of the holiday schedule as they relate to clinics. A response will be posted as soon as possible. 

Question: Why does Victory Lakes Park and Ride only pick up in front of Rebecca Sealy and only drop off on Harborside? Why can’t drop-offs and pick-ups be at the same location? Also, thanks for the added buses. I started riding again and it has really helped me save on gas. Single moms love it!

Response: (from Neal Cooper, Program Director of Sustainability and an EAC member)

Those routes were put in place due to the Market Street closures. We think it is a great idea to standardize the pick-up and drop-off locations, and definitely do-able with the construction closures ending.  We are working to coordinate. Riders can check the daily announcements, or Gulf Coast Center’s website at or watch for pamphlets on the VL shuttle buses for when the services will officially change.

Question: Is there a long term plan to ensure an adequate number of patients for residency training?

Response: (from Dr. Thomas Blackwell, Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education)

Leadership at UTMB is well aware of the need for adequate numbers of patients for residency/fellowship training. The most important way to ensure their quality of training is to grow our clinical enterprise. We are actively engaged in this process as evidenced by the new Jennie Sealy Hospital, the expansion of our League City Campus, our Angleton Danbury Campus and additional off island clinics. All of these sites are utilized for resident/fellow training. We will increase our training programs based on the appropriate numbers of faculty, patients and facilities to ensure the highest quality training. Funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME) from both federal and state sources is critical for continued growth in GME.

Question: What is the financial impact of the Health Promotion Program? Are we receiving a positive return on investment?

Response: (from Gerald Cleveland, Director, HR Health Promotion & Wellness)

Great question and one with a lot of components. Considering that the Maintenance & Operating budget for the program is funded almost entirely from UT System Office of Employee Benefits and our program participation rates are higher than ever before, the financial impact to the institution is positive. Currently, we do not calculate a specific return on investment (ROI), but focus our efforts in three best practice areas that give us the opportunity to create value for the individual and the institution.

Culture – As a health institution, we need to strive to create a workplace that values personal health and supports positive lifestyle change. We are proud to say that we have been very successful expanding the wellness presence to locations across the organization in response to the workforce becoming more geographically dispersed. A cadre of employees who volunteer to be Wellness Champions (180 and counting) help communicate and promote programs and services to the employees they work with on a daily basis. This grassroots approach has resulted in greater participation, improved engagement, higher morale and a sense of teamwork.

Personal Responsibility – Our programs are voluntary and we feel the most lasting behavior changes are those that are realized through personal commitment and action. Individual, Departmental and Institutional programs are structured around the stage of readiness to change model. Research indicates this is the most effective way to create a chance for positive behavior change.

Monitoring Health Risks – We receive aggregate data from benefits plan members who have completed the online health assessment. The lifestyle questionnaire provides a snapshot of modifiable health risks for the individual and we try to tailor programs and services that address those risks. The composite health risk profile for our population (approximately 3,000 employees have taken the survey this fiscal year) indicate physical inactivity, poor nutritional habits and the inability to cope effectively with stress as our top three. We are currently working with UT System Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) and the UT School of Public Health to develop a dashboard that will merge health risk, claims and condition management utilization data to inch closer to determining a health behavior cost. Underlying costs, such as the cost of employees who are present but not productive (due to illness or other reasons), are also part of the dashboard development.

By fostering a culture of health that promotes personal responsibility and cultivates teamwork, we feel health promotion and wellness programs are both a financial and value based success. I am more than glad to answer any other questions you may have.

Question: Why are there no bike racks at the Primary Care Pavilion (PCP)? Bikes are being locked to signs and poles. Thank you for the many great bike racks available other places on campus.

Response: (from Kim McKay, Assistant Vice President, Business Operations and Facilities – Facility Portfolio Management)

Bicycle racks have been ordered for the League City Campus and near Jennie Sealy Hospital. We can also place some at the PCP. Good idea! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. 

Question: Why does the hospital not have a 24-hour pharmacy on site? We used to. How are patients going to get their prescriptions filled after being seen in the ER after hours and sent home without any medication? They have to go all night in pain.

Response: (From Emily Blomberg, Associate Vice President, Health System Operations, and Deb McGrew, Chief Operating Officer, Health System)

Our current plans are to provide onsite retail pharmacy services at UTMB through a commercial pharmacy. We are currently in the RFP process and the hours of operation for the retail pharmacy will be dependent on volumes. Specific hours have not been set at this time. As more information becomes available we will be communicating appropriately with staff.

Question: In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, will UTMB begin to offer health benefits to employees’ same-sex spouses? Will it be in time for the open enrollment?

Response: (From Dr. Ron McKinley, Vice President for Human Resources and Employee Services)

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, Chancellor McRaven, in consultation with the UT System Office of General Counsel (OGC), has approved a proposal to amend the UT System Employee Group Insurance Program plan documents, vendor contracts and policies to allow benefits-eligible employees and retired employees to enroll their same-sex spouses, as well as dependent children of these spouses, in all fully insured and self-funded programs currently available to opposite-sex spouses.

We are pleased to announce that, effective July 1, 2015, same-sex spouses and their eligible dependents can be enrolled in the following benefit plans:

  • UT Select Medical/Prescription Plan
  • UT Select Dental Basic Plan
  • UT Select Dental Plus Plan
  • Dental HMO
  • Vision Basic Plan
  • Vision Plus Plan
  • Life Insurance (evidence of insurability [EOI] is required)
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
  • UT Flex

Benefits-eligible employees and retired employees, under the authority of the UT System Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) policies on mid-year enrollments due to a change in status, may begin to enroll eligible same-sex spouses with the required valid marriage certificate beginning July 1, 2015. Benefits-eligible employees and retirees who enter into valid same-sex marriages after July 1 may enroll after they receive their marriage certificates, within the standard 31-day requirement. Employees also may enroll their eligible same-sex spouses during annual enrollment (July 15–31) with the required valid marriage certificate, with changes taking effect Sept. 1.

Employees and retired employees will be eligible for premium sharing for same-sex spouses on the same basis as premium sharing is available for opposite-sex spouses and will be responsible for payment of the same out-of-pocket premium charged for similarly situated opposite-sex spouses. Premium payments for same-sex spouse coverage will be payable through premium reduction under the UT System Cafeteria Plan in the same way to reduce employer and employee taxes.

We are collaborating closely with the Office of Employee Benefits on programming changes. More information will be forthcoming as we implement this change in benefits for our employees.

Question: Classes were cancelled as Tropical Storm Bill approached the Texas coast. Faculty are considered non-essential employees and yet the only choices for faculty that day were to report to work or use a vacation day. I’d like to propose that when classes are cancelled, administration could offer faculty a third option — the option to work from home on coursework, research or service activities. This will keep non-essential employees off of the highways.

Response: (From Provost Dr. Danny Jacobs and Dr. Ron McKinley, Vice President for Human Resources)

Roles assigned to essential and non-essential employees during adverse weather or other emergency situations are dependent on the status of the institution and whether the Emergency Operations Plan has been activated.  If the Emergency Plan has not been activated, all employees are expected to report to work for their regularly scheduled shifts.

In the case of Tropical Storm “Bill,” the Emergency Operations Plan had not been activated. However, all departments — including those in the Academic Enterprise — have the flexibility at any time to allow employees to work from other remote sites, including their homes, as long as employees can perform their essential job duties from the remote site as approved by their supervisors.

Question: Why are CMC employees who are housed on facilities unable to view all of the website? We try to complete surveys and further read material but we are blocked due to “no internet access.”

Response: (from Todd Leach, Vice President and Chief Information Officer)

There are a number of reasons Internet access is limited across the CMC enterprise.

-Limiting access to primarily administrators in each clinic is, first and foremost, a security measure since many of our patients pass through these areas  on a regular basis.

-Some CMC locations have very limited network capacity and this capacity must be reserved for clinical and operational use.  In some cases, access to CMC information systems like Pearl and the Pharmacy System is already slower than desired due to network capacity limitations.  Providing access for incidental Internet use would only compound this problem.

-In addition, higher speed network services are not available in all CMC clinic locations since many prisons are located in rural areas that utilize a local phone company or phone cooperative.  These organizations typically have fewer service offerings compared to larger telecommunication providers.

-In some rare cases, limiting access has avoided the potential work productivity impact that Internet access can also cause.

For some employees, the decision to limit Internet access is likely based on security and on the fact that Internet access is not essential for their role.  If there is a work need for Internet access, the employee should discuss the need with their immediate supervisor.

Question: Will there be a merger or purchase of Brazosport Memorial Hospital in Lake Jackson?

Response: (from Health System business development committee)

UTMB is aware that Brazosport Memorial Hospital is looking for a partner, but we cannot speak to the status of their search.

Question: It seems like most everything employee or business-related at UTMB is synchronized with the end of the fiscal year. A fellow manager and I discovered recently that we had been thinking alike, and arrived at the same question— is that truly necessary? There are so many competing priorities during that time that it is becoming a burden to ensure everything gets completed. The ‘heavy hitters’ in our area during this time of year include: Budget Cycle, Contract Renewals, Performance Reviews, other HR documents, Annual Required Training, At-Risk Goals and Application Failover Testing.

Response: (From Cheryl Sadro, Executive Vice President and Chief Business and Finance Officer)

Budget Cycle – We recognized that adding the budget, a fairly timing-consuming and complex task, to the list of other year-end deliverables was burdensome, so we changed that in FY15.  As you have seen in a recent Relay communication, the budget for FY16 was completed and submitted to UT System by June 30, 2015.   We were able to accomplish this by asking departments to spend time throughout April and early May to plan and load FY16 budgets into the budget systems.  We plan to continue this process of completing detailed budgets earlier in the year so that we are well prepared to meet UT System reporting deadlines and to avoid working on this task during the busy summer months.        

Contract Renewals – Contracts are dependent upon the initiation dates and vary by contract/department.

Performance Reviews – Completion of certain employee – related activities are synced with the end of the fiscal year for specific reasons.  For example, Dr. Callender must attest to UT System in August of each year that all employee performance evaluations have been completed. 

Other HR documents (Right Bus/Wrong Bus, Employee Development Plan, etc.) – Activities such as employee workforce and development planning do not have prescribed completion timelines, and managers have the discretion to determine when it is best to incorporate this work into their schedules.  Whether the completion timeline is fixed or flexible, managers are encouraged to utilize the entire fiscal year to work toward and document completion of goals so that year–end closeout responsibilities are not as arduous.

Annual Required Training – Although the deadline for most training requirements is the end of the fiscal year, all employees have the entire fiscal year to accomplish this. We recommend completing the training early in the year to ease the end of fiscal year crunch and makes system issues less likely. We are always willing and able to assist with questions/issues and concerns.

The completion of at-risk goals (ours or someone else’s) – Some programs, such as At Risk, are fiscal-year-aligned plans primarily due to the financial goals (Institutional Margin and Entity/Dept/Area Margin), and these goals can only be measured after the fiscal year books are closed.

Application Failover Testing – In general, the Business Continuity Planning area in IS actually would prefer if application failover testing occurred in the fall of each year or just after the holiday break.  We believe the reason this testing typically occurs in the summer is because revisions to department continuity plans often do not start until May of each year.  We could certainly send reminders earlier in the fiscal year to avoid application failover testing in the summer.  The important thing is that we do regular failover testing but there is absolutely no requirement that this testing occur in July or August.

Question: Despite the announcement of a 5% pay increase effective September 2015, CMC is continuously losing nurses and not able to hire new nurses. Salary for nurses in CMC is still not comparable to the “free world market.” Instead of splitting the proposed raises over two years, can you increase nurses’ salaries at once? Thank you for fighting for CMC nurses.

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray, vice president for offender health services and the chief physician executive for UTMB’s Correctional Managed Care (CMC) program)

Nursing salaries are a major concern for UTMB-CMC, Texas Tech, and Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). We greatly appreciate the 5% market adjustments the Legislature provided for all CMC employees for FY 16 and 17 and have already seen a positive impact on retention and recruitment. CMC and TDCJ recognize that these market adjustments may not entirely address our salary issues in nursing. Unfortunately, only providing a 4% pay increase over the last six years has left CMC nursing significantly down when compared to the many markets in which we operate. CMC has met with TDCJ and is working collaboratively on a plan to improve our nursing vacancy rates and retention. We will be diligently assessing the impact of the market adjustments in the first quarter of FY 16 and reporting the data back to TDCJ. Based on that data, we will work with TDCJ to take additional measures as necessary to solidify our nursing workforce. We appreciate the contributions of all of our CMC employees and most certainly recognize the dedicated hard work of our nursing staff over these difficult several years.


The following questions were submitted to the EAC prior to the Town Hall Meeting on 1/30/2015. Answers are listed below:

Question: What actions are being implemented to strengthen succession planning within UTMB? We have a significant number of former employees brought back as contractors due to failed planning for their retirement.

Response:  (from Dr. Ron McKinley, Vice President, Human Resources and Employee Services, Chief Human Resources Officer)

We have begun to introduce a people planning process at UTMB that includes succession planning as a component. This process will, in the future, be integrated within the overall performance management (employee evaluation) process at UTMB. We hope to have the process in place throughout the institution by the end of FY2016. It will take at least this amount of time since managers/leaders must be trained how to develop, use, and maintain their People Plans. More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall, available for viewing at (time stamp 50.00).

Question: Could we save money at UTMB/CMC by working on paper reduction? I work in CMC and we have boxes and boxes of paper to be shredded. Could we have an electronic signature device to keep us from printing paper, scanning paper and then shredding paper? If we combined all the prison units, it would make a big difference. All units use Electronic Medical Records (EMR), but many people still believe in printing forms and filling them in by hand.

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray, Vice President, Correctional Managed Care Operations – CMC)

We have asked the Legislature for additional technology capital to address some of the concerns you are mentioning. Increasing our “paperless” direction is a goal of CMC and TDCJ that we are continuing to improve upon. Thanks for keeping this issue in the forefront. More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall, available for viewing at (time stamp 54.00).

Question: Will UTMB be adding Primary Care Providers to Angleton Danbury so the specialists who are coming aboard at ADMC will have a referral base?

Response:  (from Katrina Lambrecht, Vice President, Institutional Strategic Initiatives)

Yes, we are adding primary care providers to the Angleton Danbury campus.  One of the major initiatives that we are prioritizing this year is the renovation of a building that was previously the imaging center. 

In summer 2015, the old imaging building (on Mulberry St. in Angleton) will re-open as a UTMB adult and pediatric primary care clinic.  We currently have an advanced practice provider (Family Nurse Practitioner) seeing patients (currently in the professional office building until renovations are complete).  We are adding an adult primary care physician in the April timeframe and a pediatrician in the June/July timeframe.  More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall, available for viewing at (time stamp 55.00).

Question: With the new Legislature in progress, will CMC employees, mainly nurses, receive a substantial raise this upcoming year? As we all have completed our e-performances, it would make sense for raises to be based on performance, attendance, longevity, etc. Also discussed by Coordinator of Infectious Disease (CID) nurses during a CID meeting was the possible consideration of a “Specialty Pay” for CMC CID nurses.

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray, Vice President, Correctional Managed Care – CMC)

We have in this Legislative Session requested through TDCJ market increases for nursing. We are hopeful that we have both the data and anecdotes to make a strong case to the Legislature that these monies are needed. We will consider all pay programs that will allow us to retain and recruit our very valuable nursing personnel. More details are provided in the video of Town Hall, available for viewing at (time stamp 36.00)

Question: When will CMC dentists get a pay increase to be more in line with real world pay?

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray, Vice President, Correctional Managed Care – CMC)

We have asked for market increases for dentists and dental as well. More details are provided in the video of Town Hall, available for viewing at (time stamp 36.00)

Question: Considering the substantial nursing shortage, I would like to know if an online/ correspondence program for CMC LVNs could be offered through UTMB, allowing them to obtain their RN degree. Just like other correspondence/online courses, the exams could be taken at a local college or testing site and a final clinical could be done right there at UTMB. Since UTMB has its own Nursing School, it would be a great incentive and privilege to work for UTMB while advancing our degrees through the University.

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray, Vice President, Correctional Managed Care – CMC)

We have participated in an RN work school program in the past; however, it did not work as it was intended. We have requested a significant number of additional RN positions in this Legislative request. If the additional staffing requests are approved this session, we may consider looking at a work school program in the future.

Question: Why in CMC do we need to see patients for their diets? The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) could save money on time spent on Nurse Sick Call (NSC) from clerical staff, nurses and doctors. Let us spend time somewhere else.

Response: (from Dr. Owen Murray, Vice President, Correctional Managed Care – CMC)

I will bring this issue up with the Operations Council to see if we have data which accurately reflects the opportunity in reduced workload. We would need to discuss any proposed change in our current obligations involving dietary policy and procedure with TDCJ and our partner Texas Tech. Excellent suggestion.

Question: Has there been any other movement in regards to the portion of faculty whom will be retiring in the next 5 years? Is this something that has been lumped into the new Road Ahead?

Response: (from Dr. Ron McKinley, Vice President, Human Resources and Employee Services, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Dr. Jim Mahon, Vice President, Communications and Academic Resources, Provost Office)

Retirement forecasts and plans have not been lumped into the Road Ahead. We are aware that many faculty and staff will be retiring within the next 5 years.

Three tactics are simultaneously underway:  1) Continue to enhance the skills of our current workforce including professional/leadership development programs, 2) Develop and continuously refine succession planning in all areas and 3) Continue our recruiting plans to attract top talent.

The following questions were submitted to the EAC prior to the Town Hall Meeting on 09/18/2014. Answers are listed below:

Question: Are we planning to have cutting-edge technology in the new hospital similar to the new UT Southwestern Clements University Hospital?


UTMB is following the 12 principles of Evidence-Based Design—centered on the needs of patients and their families—to create a healing environment in Jennie Sealy Hospital (which will open for patients in 2016). All rooms in the hospital will have a water view to some degree, which adds to the healing environment. Also, we will have 20 state-of-the-art operating rooms and an intraoperative MRI, one of only two hospitals in the Houston area with that capability. Our information technology infrastructure also is designed to support new technologies as they are developed and implemented in the future. More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall, available for viewing at [] (time stamp 50.00).

Question: Can we get back in the business of selling tickets on campus at a discounted rate for sports events, theme parks, etc.?


The Discount with ID Program and other discount initiatives are currently under review and will be replaced with an on-line program that can be accessed by employees at all UTMB  locations.  This new program will provide discounts on a wider variety of things than our current program and will be much more accessible.  More information will be provided when a definite implementation date is established. More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall available for viewing at [] (time stamp 53.00).

Question: Thank you for your emphasis on culture of trust and professionalism. There are still some areas lacking because of management decisions. Many of us spend money to get advanced degrees hoping we will get a career advancement opportunity, but in nursing it’s all about who knows who rather than the degrees and certifications. It’s frustrating and people are leaving because of that; we are losing employees who are excellent because there is no career advancement for a regular person, unless you know the “right” person.


All positions are posted and eligible candidates are considered prior to making a job offer. Selecting the right person for the right role is important and essential to meet the goals of UTMB, the Health System, Nursing Service, the department, and the unit. Leadership development and career planning for all nurses is supported by the Health System and Nursing Service. Also, when planning a career path, developing a relationship with a mentor is valuable. More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall available for viewing at [] (time stamp 55.11).

Question: Why is education of higher level management not required at this time? Experience is not enough most times to keep up with the demands and true understanding of the Electronic Health Record system and our transition to such. It puts us at a great risk when unskilled managers, totally inexperienced in the medical field, make decisions regarding a patient’s chart that directly affect patient care. They don’t know the difference between a colonoscopy and a colposcopy, and the decisions they make are based on such ignorance.


Executives are required to have appropriate education, which usually includes a minimum of a Master’s degree.  For clinical issues, executives make decisions with input from the clinicians for that particular area.  In addition, during this fiscal year, training is being rolled out which in general all managers will attend.  This training will address the softer skills. More details are provided in the Question/Answer portion of Town Hall available for viewing at [] (time stamp 57.40).

Question: CMC staff has been instructed to issue all patients a satisfaction survey. Our healthcare providers are limited and boxed in as to what care we can provide on the unit level, and many times our patients are not satisfied with the care they are given. We are wondering what the desired outcome of these surveys is, and will the way we deliver care change based on the results. What is the benefit of these surveys to UTMB/CMC?


CMC has provided patient satisfaction surveys in the past (2006, 2007 and 2008). The survey for 2014 is to compare the results from 2008 since there have been major changes within the CMC; two RIFs which have impacted the way patients are seen and services are provided. The survey is strictly to assist in garnering information for TDCJ as this information can also be used when presenting statistics/results to the Legislature. No employees will be evaluated on the results, and performance reviews will not be affected by survey results.

Question: Could you please give us an update with the Innovation Challenge. Will any of the other suggestions be considered besides the top five? What happens to the other suggestions…get filed away in a vault to never be touched? Please address some of the other suggestions that do not need a committee to implement.


Updates on the Innovation Challenge are posted at:

IDEAxCHANGE websites:

This year, 311 ideas and problems were posted to IDEAxCHANGE, and 1,808 comments were made in response to posted ideas/problems. ALL postings made to IDEAxCHANGE were reviewed by 30 moderators from across campus. 

So, what happened to the ideas posted on IDEAxCHANGE?  Under the category “Ideas to Improve UTMB,” 201 ideas were submitted. Moderators forwarded 87 ideas (43%) to various campus leaders. Approximately 25 ideas (12%) received feedback, and these responses were posted to IDEAxCHANGE. Approximately 12 ideas (6%) were considered appropriately addressed and implemented (thus labelled “resolved”) by the individual who posted the original idea. This is a good start, and we hope to have a greater percentage of ideas implemented during the next IDEAxCHANGE period.

Under the category “Problems We Need to Solve,” 59 ideas were submitted. Moderators forwarded 26 ideas (44%) to various campus leaders. Approximately 17 problems (29%) received feedback, with this feedback posted to IDEAxCHANGE. Approximately 7 problems (12%) were considered appropriately addressed and solved (thus labelled “resolved”) by the individual who posted the original problem. Again, this is a good start at identifying and solving problems faced by our campus.

Regarding the Collaborative Innovation class: The “class” was open to anyone on campus, and ran from May-August (although a team is still at work implementing their solutions with HR). The class team was free to tackle any problem or idea noted on IDEAxCHANGE. There was never any restriction to a “top five” idea or problem. The team chose to focus on the problems of highest impact and listed in the “Grand Challenges” section of IDEAxCHANGE.

Ultimately, the team decided to tackle the challenge put forth by CEO Donna Sollenberger — “How can we motivate more employees to use UTMB as their healthcare provider?” The team worked on a solution for eight weeks, in the process meeting with leadership and individuals from all across campus to develop a creative solution and an implementation plan. The team presented their solution to Drs. Callender and Jacobs and Ms. Sollenberger in mid-August. Their solution was enthusiastically embraced by UTMB leadership. The team is now working with HR leadership and management to deploy their solution through a novel program that targets new employees during the New Employee Orientation training sessions.

Question: Will there be a work/study program for CMC employees starting up again?


We are currently studying the possibility of some type of work study program similar to the one UTMB had in the past; however, this is in the preliminary stages of planning. In addition, this fiscal year we are conducting a pilot program for entry-level employees to help them improve their skills so that they will have greater opportunity for advancement. This program is called School at Work.Detailed communications will be coming at the beginning of FY2015 as we begin to roll out the program.

The following questions were submitted to the EAC prior to the Town Hall Meeting on 5/23/2014. Answers are listed below:

Question: ePerformance – Evaluations should be based on individual performance vs. entire department. Salary increases should be commensurate to job performance. Why doesn’t each department handle the same way?


Recognizing the wide range of needs for various departments, UTMB has built-in flexibility in our rewards processes. In some departments, team members collectively contribute to the overall productivity, while other departments have a more individual approach. To see Dr. Callender’s comments at the May 23 Town Hall, view the meeting video (CMC version) at the 47:09 mark.

Question: How can we improve on the interview process in notifying applicants in a timely manner that they did not get the job they were applying for? From my experience, no notifications were sent out to the applicant.


UTMB receives an average of 11,000 applications every month, which makes sending a personal message to each applicant a challenge. However, Human Resources has initiated a process improvement project to enhance communication with applicants, using automated email updates at different points in the recruitment process. They expect to see an improved notification rate by the end of this fiscal year (Aug. 31, 2014). To see more-detailed comments on this question by Dr. Ron McKinley, vice president for human resource and employee services, view the May 23 Town Hall meeting video (CMC version) at the 49:02 mark.

Question: We were told that new UTMB name badges would be distributed by the end of March and here we are two months later… can you advise what the issue is?


The rebadging of students, faculty and staff is a massive undertaking that is being done primarily to upgrade the security features of the badges. (An added benefit will be that every badge will feature the current UTMB Health logo.) The Badge Office met with stakeholders throughout the university to discuss the initial implementation plan. Based on feedback from those stakeholders, the plan is being revised to ensure minimal disruption to operations while maintaining badge security during the switchover. Even with the refinements to the implementation plan, including consultation with external professionals, rebadging is expected to take place by the end of August 2014. (UTMB Police Chief Tom Engells)