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‘Social responsibility’ in health care

4.20.2007

By Michelle Silva

Addressing "society's needs" was the theme of UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef's brown bag chat at the medical center on April 11.

"The sense of social responsibility is an important part of our work throughout the entire university," he said to an audience of about 100 health system staff, faculty and administrators. "The university tries to pay close attention to society's needs. That is apparent every day at UC Davis Health System."

Vanderhoef stressed that translating research to patient care is an important part of the health system's commitment to social responsibility. He also cited the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness Research and Training as two examples of how the health system is responding to community and global needs.

The chancellor commended UC Davis Health System's telemedicine program in particular for its role in meeting the health care needs of rural Californians. The UC Board of Regents heard and saw a presentation on the program at a recent meeting and praised its potential to have a global impact on health care.

"It was a very proud moment for UC Davis," Vanderhoef remarked, noting that telemedicine is another example of the school's dedication to social responsibility.

He said that while the health system continues to make tremendous contributions to the public good, health care reform "is probably stronger on people's minds than anything else."

Caring for uninsured people needs to be done "fairly and equitably," Vanderhoef said. As part of its community service mission, "UC Davis Health System does more than its fair share" in caring for the under- and uninsured, providing "millions each year in uncompensated care."

Speaking about the future of health care reform in California and the effect it will have on the health system and its patients, Vanderhoef acknowledged that "we are, frankly, very worried. We do not want people falling through the cracks."

He noted that UC Davis wants to be part of policy discussions at the local, state and federal level.

In the last half of his talk, Vanderhoef took questions on topics ranging from environmental services issues in buildings to how a proposed level II trauma center in south Sacramento might affect the health system.

UC Davis Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Ann Madden Rice addressed a question concerning how the addition of a trauma center in the Sacramento area might affect the medical center's trauma program. She said that, even with another trauma facility to receive and treat critically injured patients, the rapid population growth in the Sacramento region means increasing demand for trauma services. She also mentioned that the health system is diversifying its programs so it will be less dependent on trauma services.

UC Davis Sodexho employees and AFSCME representatives followed Vanderhoef from Davis to his talk in Sacramento, where he gave them the opportunity to again express their concerns related to Sodexho employment.

UC Davis Health System employs its own dietary workers and does not contract with Sodexho.

Vanderhoef also discussed Provost Virginia Hinshaw's June 30 departure and his plan for filling her position. A national search will be launched, with health sciences faculty represented on the search committee.

The chancellor expects the recruitment to be completed by May 2008. He anticipates announcing an interim provost in the near future.

Michelle Silva is a senior public information representative for the UC Davis Health System.


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