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Health System Board reviews financials, Committee on College at Wise discusses student retention

The Health System Board meeting began the Board of Visitors’ second day of session

<p>The Finance Working Group reported to committee that the operating income for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 was favorable to the six months ending at the end of the 2021 calendar year, with an operating income of $47.7 million.&nbsp;</p>

The Finance Working Group reported to committee that the operating income for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 was favorable to the six months ending at the end of the 2021 calendar year, with an operating income of $47.7 million. 

The Health System Board opened Thursday’s Meeting of the Board sessions with remarks from the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Medical Center, while the Board of Visitors’ Committee on the University’s College at Wise met Friday to discuss enrollment figures and the school’s funding requests.

Health System Board meeting

The Health System Board is the governing board for both the University’s Medical Center and the Transitional Care Hospital. The Rector of the Board serves as a voting member, along with five other voting members of the Board of Visitors, whom the Rector appoints. In addition to the members of the Board, the Board of Visitors is given the authority to appoint up to six public non-voting members to serve as non-voting members of the Health System Board for four year terms. 

Wendy Horton, chief executive officer of U.Va. Health, reported to the Board that overall hospital ratings of nine or 10 for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 surpassed those of last year by eight percentile points, but remained slightly below target. 

The University Transitional Care Hospital — which provides care for individuals requiring a stay longer than 25 days on average — is operating with high efficiency, according to Horton. At the TCH, the mortality rate is 9.6 percent, compared to a national benchmark of 12.01 percent.

School of Medicine Dean Melina Kibbe reported that faculty attrition — the rate of faculty leaving their roles at the School of Medicine — throughout fiscal year 2022 has been highly favorable, with a departure rate of 4.1 percent. Of the 52 departed faculty, 16 have left research departments and 36 have left clinical departments. 

Leadership of the School of Medicine recently conducted a national search before naming Tracy Downs, M.D, the inaugural Chief Diversity and Community Engagement Officer, beginning July 1. Downs currently serves as the associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs and as a professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

According to a U.Va. Health System news announcement, Downs will act as the “leading voice on diversity, equity and inclusion and be a powerful advocate for related initiatives across the health system and, more broadly, in the local community.”

Pamela Cipriano, dean of the School of Nursing, provided an overview of School of Nursing academic recruitment.

The School of Nursing received 81 applicants for the accelerated two-year Bachelor of Sciences in Nursing program, which accepts students transferring either from within or outside of the University. Of the applicants, 25 students were accepted into the cohort, 33 percent of which are first-generation college students and 36 percent of whom are non-white. Over 1,800 individuals applied to the traditional Bachelor of Sciences in Nursing program, only 75 of whom will be selected.

The Board then moved into closed session to discuss confidential information about the operations of the Health System. 

A report from the Finance Working Group — given by Board member Robert Blue and Douglas Lischke, chief financial officer for U.Va. Health — closed out the meeting.

According to the report, the operating income for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 was $47.7 million. While prior to Dec. 31, inflation and labor challenges created total expenses that were 2.5 percent over budget, growth during the second quarter created end revenue due to a growth in outpatient pharmacy business and strong ambulatory volumes.

During fiscal year 2022, the Health System had 8,760 full-time equivalent employees, compared to 9,032 allocated for in the budget. The staff salary remained unfavorable, however, costing an average of $93,797 per full-time employee in comparison to an allocated $90,174. According to the report, this unfavorability was caused by “national staffing shortages caus[ing] additional compensation for difficult to recruit positions and high-cost agency staffing.”

Blue and Lischke presented a brief overview of the second quarter fiscal year 2022 budgets for the U.Va. Physicians Group, School of Medicine and School of Nursing. 

The U.Va. Physicians Group — a group practice dedicated to supporting physicians and providers at U.Va. Health System locations — produced an operating surplus of $17.3 million due to high patient volumes, funding through the American Rescue Plan and cost savings from remote work. The School of Medicine generated an $8.8 million surplus from gift revenues and state funds. The School of Nursing also had a favorable budget balance, as slightly above budget salary expenditures due to increased instructional volume were offset by delayed professional development and recruitment activities.

The Health System Board will next meet during the Board’s June session.

Committee on the University’s College at Wise

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a public liberal arts institution housed within the larger University system. Located near Virginia’s border with Kentucky in the town of Wise, the College at Wise houses over 2,000 students.

Donna Price Henry, the chancellor of the College at Wise, told meeting attendees of her work to strengthen relationships with legislators, hoping they will help advocate for the College at Wise’s budget bills and priorities.

Among the requests are $11.5 million dollars from the state government over the next two years, degree escalation legislation that allows the school to develop new graduate programs and funding for a new 52,000 square-foot academic technology building focused on virtual reality, cyber security and robotics. 

Henry also updated the Board of Visitors on enrollment numbers at U.Va. Wise, with 908 people applying to get into the college for fall 2022 and more than 739 students admitted. This year, about 65 percent of students stayed at the College of Wise from their freshman to sophomore year, a drop of about 5 percent. Henry largely attributed this decrease to the pandemic.

“Retention and recruitment are a big piece,” Henry said. “We are seeing good success in increasing the student population and want to continue that but also enhance our work in retention,” Henry said.

Henry then acknowledged that the school is focusing on advising and support, particularly because more than 50 percent of the students at the College at Wise are first-generation college students.

“They really need enhanced support as they make their way through their undergraduate education,” Henry said.

Gail Zimmerman, vice chancellor for student affairs of the College at Wise, updated meeting attendees on current activities in the Office of Student Affairs.

Zimmerman said that the Office of Orientation and Advising has moved to a hybrid model following the pandemic, which allows students to begin orientation online and then have the opportunity to tour the College at Wise. 

“We have 99 percent completion of the online program, which the company that we partner with is astounded by,” Zimmerman said. 

Second-year College student Jonathan Hagy and third-year College student Cleve Packer — who played tennis at U.Va. Wise — spoke.  Both Hagy and Packer completed the Year At Wise program, which allows Virginians placed on the waitlist for the College of Arts and Sciences to attend the College at Wise for one year and then transfer to the Charlottesville campus if they complete 30 hours of transferable credit and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

“My father had previously told me, Cleve, you’ll be the only Black person there, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Packer said. “When I got there, I first met the tennis coach who welcomed me with open arms, and from then on I knew I could call this place home.”

Packer said that he developed close relationships with his professors and his tennis team at the College at Wise. 

According to Hagy, the University had always been dream school, but he was deferred when he applied following his senior year of high school. He decided to choose the Year at Wise program, which would allow him to make it to Grounds.

“Wise did not make me feel like I left my home, Wise became my home,” Hagy said.

When Hagy was able to transfer on Grounds, he felt that as a transfer student he was treated well, and that his fellow students were interested in learning more about him and his experiences at the College at Wise.

“It fills me with such immense pride that at my new home, my university, that students like me are welcomed here by leaders like President Ryan and Vice President Hadley,” Hagy said.


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