Vital Signs - November 2003

April 2004

School of Nursing Announces Major Expansion to Double Capacity

The University of Rochester School of Nursing is unveiling plans for the largest expansion in its 75-year history. A 19,500-square-foot expansion will create the new $7.8 million Loretta Ford Education Wing, which will help the School increase its student enrollment by 60 percent. The wing's namesake, Loretta Ford, was the School's first dean and is world renowned for co-inventing the role of the nurse practitioner, which has dramatically changed the way nursing care is delivered.

Crittenden Blvd
Helen Wood Hall floorplan

The improvements to Helen Wood Hall include a high-tech auditorium, along with the latest in education innovations: facilities for wireless computing, distance learning, and laptop docking stations. Groundbreaking will occur in October 2004, with completion slated for late summer 2005.

The School's expansion is a direct response to the national nursing shortage, which is projected to worsen. Currently, 126,000 nursing vacancies exist nationwide, and by 2008, that number is projected to increase to 575,000. A widely reported study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked a lack of nurses in hospitals to a 14 percent increase in mortality among patients.

With the new space, the School's popular Accelerated Nursing Program, which enables people with Bachelor's degrees to become nurses in as little as one year, will double in capacity, to 100 students. Many of these students are displaced workers looking to enter a profession in huge demand. In the first year of enrollment in 2002, students came from backgrounds as diverse as the computer industry, engineering and general business.

The expansion also means new jobs at the School. Ten new faculty members will be hired, which helps address a related shortage of qualified nursing faculty to educate nurses. In 2003, U.S. nursing schools turned away 18,105 qualified applicants because the schools didn't have enough faculty to teach.

A capital campaign is underway to raise $13.3 million for the expansion and to help fund new centers at the School, including the Center for Nursing Entrepreneurship and the Center for Aging. The campaign also will help fund scholarships, faculty chairs, and additional renovations to the existing Helen Wood Hall building that houses the School of Nursing, community nursing programs and several research/practice centers.

New Evarts Lounge Debuts

New Evarts Lounge Debuts
Nancy Lyons Evarts, R.N., and C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., at naming ceremony.

While plans and drawings are still being worked on for the School's expansion, one renovation at Helen Wood Hall has already been completed, thanks to a generous gift by Medical Center CEO C. McCollister "Mac" Evarts, M.D. and his wife, Nancy Lyons Evarts, R.N. In late March, the couple hosted a reception to unveil the famed lounge, now named the Evarts Lounge, which through renovations has been restored to look as it did in the 1930s.

The renovations include restoration of the three original brass chandeliers, refinishing and reupholstering all furniture, installation of a 25' x 60' oriental carpet, new drapes, and an updated kitchen to better meet catering requirements.

Evarts and Lyons started their medical careers at the Medical Center in the 1950s, when Evarts attended the School of Medicine and Dentistry and Lyons attended the School of Nursing. The two met after Evarts, who used to duck away from his studies to earn some spending money by playing in the old semi-pro football league, injured his ankle during a game. He was brought to the emergency room back at the University of Rochester, where the young student nurse, Lyons, treated him, agreeing not to report that he'd been playing semi-pro football on the side. The two have been together ever since.

A formal portrait of Evarts and Lyons now hangs in Evarts Lounge, along with a plaque that tells the story of the couple, and a snapshot of them from the 1950s while still in medical and nursing school.


Strong and Highland Recognized for Increased Performance

strong health enttranceStrong Health's two acute care hospitals have both made the first annual list of the Solucient 100 Top Hospitals Performance Improvement Leaders, an honor created to recognize organizations that have effectively developed a culture of performance improvement and have continued to improve over the last five years at a significantly faster rate than their peers.

The list consists of five categories that reflect differences in bed size and teaching programs. Strong Memorial was one of only 15 included in the Major Teaching Hospitals category, while Highland was one of only 19 in the Medium Community Hospital category.

Solucient measured 2,886 hospitals against their peer groups based on five-year trend data (1996-2001) gleaned from Medicare Cost Reports and Provider Analysis and Review (information hospitals must submit to the government in order to receive Medicare reimbursement), as well as Solucient's hospital database. Eight measurements were considered: mortality, number of complications, average length-of-stay, expense per discharge (adjusted for severity and wages), profitability, proportion of outpatient revenue, productivity (ability to generate capital for renovations and service expansion), and coding specificity rate (a measure of the accuracy and efficiency with which patient care information is gathered).

"This ranking reflects the hard work and commitment of faculty and employees at all levels throughout Strong Health," said Steven I. Goldstein, president and CEO of Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals. "It's evidence of our effort to make continuous improvement the hallmark of the Strong Health culture."

"At every level within the Strong Health system, we are deeply committed to continuous performance improvement," said Robert Panzer, M.D., chief quality officer for Strong Health. "By incorporating new technology, such as computerized order entry systems and failsafe medication pumps, we are supporting our staff in their efforts to create an error-free, high-quality environment."


New Charity Care Policy Fits the Bill

New Charity Care Policy Fits the Bill If you are caring for a patient that has no insurance, or is concerned about the cost of the treatment, do you know how to help or how to access the procedures Strong has in place for such situations? The Hospital and University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group (URMFG) have recently collaborated on a new system to ensure that all employees can answer these questions.

"Strong has a good track record in providing care to those who cannot afford to pay. In fact, we provide more charity care than any other hospital in the region," said Len Shute, Strong Memorial chief financial officer. "But, in the face of national scrutiny about hospitals' charity care policies and practices, we've decided that we need to do more to ensure that employees have a universal understanding of the Hospital's policy and procedures."

A general description of Strong's charity care policy for both hospital and physician bills is now posted in ambulatory areas and included in pre-admission materials. A tiered staff training program is underway so that all staff has a basic understanding of the policy, while front-line staff and financial counselors have detailed information.

Strong has designated a Charity Care Officer in Patient Accounts to serve as a resource to internal staff and patients; similar representatives are available for physicians' bills. Plus, both the hospital and URMFG have established a new sliding fee scale to recognize that some patients are less able to pay than others. In addition, the hospital and URMFG have developed an information-sharing system, so that patients need only complete one form to apply for both hospital and physician aid relief.

For hospital bills, patients who need financial counseling or help applying for Medicaid can call 274-3400 and someone will return their call within 24 hours. Patients who have already completed the Medicaid application can contact the Charity Care Officer in Patient Accounts at 585-784-8889 or 1-800-257-7049. For physicians' billing, patients can call 585-758-7650, or 1-888-925-4301 if they live outside the area.


New HRMS Website Keeps Staff Up-to-Date

New HRMS Website Keeps Staff Up-to-DateThe University is in full preparation for the roll out of the state-of-the-art Human Resources Management System (HRMS), a new system to manage information on all University faculty and staff. The new system is based on the most up-to-date version of PeopleSoft human resource management software.

Already, general information meetings on the new system have been held campus-wide. In addition, more than 75 detailed training sessions will begin mid-May and run through the end of June. All faculty, staff and volunteers are encouraged to attend the one-and-a-half hour sessions to learn how to navigate the new system. Additionally, training on the new time and labor process will be offered to managers and time approvers in that same timeframe.

For the latest HRMS news, including all dates, times and locations for the training sessions, please visit Each week, Associate Vice President for Human Resources Chuck Murphy will post an Upgrade Update, with information on a specific component of the new system, while HRMS Manager Tim Eldred will provide monthly progress updates. Your questions and comments can be directed to


Comment on UR Presidential Search Process

Comment on UR Presidential Search ProcessThe University has launched a new website to encourage faculty and staff comments on the search process for a new University president. The site also will provide information about the process as it proceeds.

President Jackson announced March 5 that he intends to step down effective June 30, 2005. Board of Trustees Chairman G. Robert Witmer Jr. will chair the search effort, which begins this spring. A Trustees' Presidential Search Committee and University Advisory Group have been appointed with broad University representation; student and staff advisory groups also will be formed. For a complete list of search committee members and other information about the presidential search process, visit


united wayUR Staff Shows Solid Support for United Way

With average pledges up 14 percent, and participation rate higher than last year, the University of Rochester is well on its way to meeting the University's $1 million goal for the 2004 United Way campaign. To date, $500,000 has been raised in pledges.

For decades, the University has partnered with the United Way of Greater Rochester to develop a comprehensive social support network for our community. Because of the synergy between the University's community service mission and United Way, it remains the only University-based fundraiser authorized each year. And, over $1.3 million United Way funding comes back to University and Strong Health sponsored programs.

Last year, our staff contributed more than $900,000, however only about one-third of all staff participated in the campaign. This year, we hope to broaden participation and reach the million dollar mark for the first time.

If you haven't given, please consider making a pledge. Please call the United Way Hotline at 273-4756.


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Last updated: 06/23/2009 9:55 PM