The University of Kansas Medical Center: Ed Phillips, Vice Chancellor for Administration

by HCE Exchange on May 18, 2011

The University of Kansas Medical Center  (KU Med) serves its state with three medical- school campuses and schools of allied health and nursing. The largest campus, located in Kansas City, has approximately 450 physicians in residency training. The Wichita campus, which focuses on the education of primary-care physicians, has approximately 250. There is a smaller campus in Salina which is expanding its undergraduate medical programs and will soon be offering four-year degree medical programs, as well. Over all, the school has about 3,100 students and around 3,400 employees.

“We share our main campus in Kansas City with the University of Kansas Hospital which has been a separate entity from the university since 1998,” Ed Phillips, vice chancellor for administration, said. “They are our principal teaching hospital, but they have their own governance and administration.”

The largest single source of support for the organization is the state of Kansas which provides about $110 million per year. The remaining two-thirds of their budget is made up from tuition and research programs. They also provide house staff for organizations such as the Veteran’s Administration hospitals in Kansas City, Leavenworth and Wichita and are compensated by the federal government for providing that staff. These programs are generally associated with graduate medical education programs.

Enhancing the Patient and the Student Experience

In partnership with the University of Kansas Hospital,  KU Med is constructing a new 180,000 square foot ambulatory care facility which will bring together most of the outpatient services currently provided in seven different buildings on 13 or 14 different floors. The hospital, while separate from the university, requires that you first must be a staff member at the school of medicine.

“The construction of this new building will bring all of the ambulatory care services together in one place, and we’re constructing an adjacent parking garage for patients,” Phillips said. “It will be a significant enhancement to the patient experience for those who come to the medical center for care, and it will also enhance our ability to train new physicians as it really is more reflective of the type of atmosphere they will be practicing in once they finish their training.”

Fulfilling Healthcare Needs in a Rural State

As the only academic medical center in the state of Kansas, KU Med is the primary source of the state’s healthcare professionals. Phillips said significant portions of the state of Kansas remain underserved because new doctors seem to congregate in urban areas, and Kansas is largely a rural state. This is why several of the school’s initiatives involve expanding programs in Wichita, which is more centrally located, and Salina.

“People who go to school there are interested in primary care and specifically in primary care for the rural areas of the state,” he said. “We think that this program will have a direct impact on identifying interested students and then training them with the specific intent that they would go back into the rural areas of our state to practice.”

As well, the university medical program provides valuable access to specialty areas of healthcare that are not available anywhere else in the state. The state’s only pediatric rheumatologist, for instance, is a faculty member of the school of medicine. That individual conducts outreach clinics into the western part of Kansas where patients would probably have to travel out-of-state to receive those services.

Growing Research Programs

Cutting-edge research is also a component of KU Med’s mission. Four years ago, they completed a 200,000 square foot clinical research facility. In addition to the initial investment in construction, approximately $20 million has been devoted to technology since the building was completed.

“That investment has allowed us to recruit approximately 40 new faculty members to the university, and we’ve been able to recruit them from the best medical facilities in the country,” Phillips said.

They are also in the midst of renovating one of their older laboratory buildings through a partnership with the university and the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

“The 180,000 square feet that we are renovating is going to be devoted to cancer research as part of our effort for achieving national designation as a comprehensive cancer center,” Phillips said.

That building will act as a bio-sciences incubator.

“As the new discoveries are coming out of the university, we want to provide a place in Kansas where new companies can incubate in Kansas,” Phillips said. “The hope and expectation is that as their products reach the marketplace, they will remain in Kansas. We see this as part of moving those discoveries to the bedside and to the marketplace and trying to retain those industries in Kansas. Therefore, the university also becomes a major source of economic benefit to the entire community.”

Multi-Mission Commitment

“The ongoing commitments of the University of Kansas Medical Center are three–training the next generation of health professionals for the state of Kansas, conducting cutting-edge research … to improve the lives of Kansans and everyone else in the country and in the world, and from that research, to provide a basis for economic development for our state,” Phillips said. “The service portion of our mission is to continue to provide access to those unique clinical services that only an academic medical center can provide and to extend the ability to provide those services outward, from Kansas City and Wichita to the entire state of Kansas.

-by T.M. Simmons

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