University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, April 28, 2022. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, approved in April to host the state’s next burn center, didn’t fully meet almost a third of the required criteria.

However, an expert said that wasn’t uncommon, and UMMC filed a corrective action plan following the visit which lists steps UMMC will take in the following months to get up to speed.

Since Mississippi’s only burn center closed in October, both UMMC and Mississippi Baptist Medical Center have submitted applications to become the next burn center’s host. The state Health Department was given $4 million by the Legislature this year to choose the home of the next burn center, though nothing prevents the money from going to more than one hospital. 

Baptist received its site visit from the Health Department on July 18. The results from that site visit have not yet been released.

A March inspection of UMMC showed that in 46 of 155 categories, the health system did not meet or only “partially met” the requirements for a burn center.

The corrective action plan shows remedial steps for 44 of those 46 deficiencies. 

UMMC spokesperson Patrice Guilfoyle declined to comment on any of Mississippi Today’s questions, including about improvements the health system has made since the site survey.

The site survey pointed out that UMMC had no internal burn education plan, did not have sufficient staff and was missing some policies and procedures.

According to the corrective action plan, the health system will develop its internal burn education plan by the end of the year and staff will have been trained in it by March 2024. 

The health system plans to recruit staff — including a dietitian, psychiatrist, outreach coordinator and pharmacist — and develop the policies it’s still missing by the same deadline.

Corrective actions for two of the “partially met” requirements, though, are missing from the report. 

Mississippi State Department of Health employees directed Mississippi Today to UMMC for an explanation but confirmed the entire report was released. Guilfoyle, the spokesperson for UMMC, also declined to answer that specific question.

Previously, the site survey found that UMMC’s policies and procedures for the use of allograft tissues were being updated, and therefore, the health system only “partially met” that requirement. Additionally, UMMC was still recruiting staff for a rehabilitation program for its burn patients. Neither criteria were mentioned in the corrective action plan. 

At the time of the site survey report, Dr. Peter Arnold, director of the burn center, was not current in Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS), the standard training for burn patient providers. Though he was scheduled to undergo this training in April, Arnold’s deadline for completing the training in the plan is the end of this month. 

While the health system’s initial burn center application showed that none of its staffers were ABLS trained, a Facebook post from May showed that 48 people had undergone ABLS training. The corrective action plan notes that “hospital administration revealed a very robust plan for ABLS.” By the end of the year, attending staff will be trained in ABLS, the plan says. 

UMMC is also remodeling a dedicated operating room space, which will be available by next March, the plan says. The Institutions of Higher Learning recently approved UMMC’s request to use $4 million of its own money to renovate its facilities to create a new burn center.

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Devna Bose, a Neshoba County native, covers community health. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied print journalism and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Devna reported on education at Chalkbeat Newark and at the Post and Courier’s Education Lab, and on race and social justice at the Charlotte Observer. Her work has appeared in the Hechinger Report, the Star-Ledger and the Associated Press, and she has appeared on WNYC to discuss her reporting. Devna has been awarded for her coverage of K-12 education in the Carolinas.