ALUMNUS Spring 2022 - Mississippi State University

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quality problems all day, every day but can’t improve it. Our course teaches them how to make change happen for the good of patients, hospital and staff.” Nicole Stubbs, vice president of performance improvement at Greenwood-Leflore Hospital, who finished the program in 2021, said her organization is seeing results. “This class resulted in our Building Bridges program, which is aimed at reducing delay in patient transfers,” Stubbs said. “We evaluated and streamlined the patient transfer process and by changing a few roles, we reduced average transfer time from 38 to 7.5 minutes.” Stubbs said the group’s other projects resulted in improved room turnover and improved metrics for pre-authorizing a procedure. A contract review program is currently in the works. “This class allowed us to reduce big processes to scalable tasks,” she said. “During the pandemic, it’s been difficult to make sweeping changes, so this class showed us how to implement small changes that have a big impact.”


One in six children experience developmental delays but identifying and addressing these issues early can help them overcome these obstacles. Early screening is key, which is why the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has funded Mississippi Thrive! A collaboration between MSU’s Social Science Research Center and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the program improves developmental and behavioral health for children from birth to age 5. Connie Baird-Thomas, research professor and SSRC associate director, is co-principal investigator on the $14 million project, now in its fifth year.

needed,” Baird-Thomas said. The team provides tools that health care professionals, child care personnel and parents can access to meet children’s developmental and behavioral health needs. Thus far, their efforts have helped increase Mississippi’s developmental screening rate to 31.5%, which is much closer to the current national rate of 36.9%. Baird-Thomas said Mississippi needs a developmental and behavioral road map for providers and parents. “I realize families sometimes struggle to find resources. Mississippi needs seamless structures in place, so parents can access resources without frustration,” she said. Through the virtual platform Project ECHO, Mississippi Thrive! allows UMMC specialists to train rural health care providers and bolster their knowledge about developmental health. It has reached 20 counties so far, and has branched out to include the first Project ECHO pilot project aimed at training child care providers, with 30 participants thus far. Heather Hanna, an SSRC assistant research professor and co-principal investigator for Mississippi Thrive!, said she hopes these methods are used for years to come. “We are trying to build infrastructure that will outlive this project, so Mississippi’s fractured early childhood system becomes cohesive,” Hanna explained. “This will ensure children and families have access to needed resources and support for optimal development.” Hanna said the team, in partnership with the Mississippi State Department of Health, created developmental milestone training that new child care directors must complete. The training is also available as a continuing education course for existing directors and has been distributed to the state’s home visiting

“WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT THE COLLABORATION WE ARE SEEING ACROSS MISSISSIPPI’S EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM. DISPARATE GROUPS ACROSS DIFFERENT FIELDS AND INSTITUTIONS WORK WITH FAMILIES TO COME TOGETHER IN WAYS I HAVEN’T SEEN BEFORE, WHICH HAS BEEN A POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT.” ~ HEATHER HANNA The project, in part, was inspired by Mississippi’s low developmental screening rate. Completed on children ages 9-35 months, these screenings can identify children at risk for cognitive, motor, communication or social-emotional delays. In 2017, the U.S. screening rate was 31% while Mississippi’s rate was only 18.6%. “This project has taught health care providers how to screen children at recommended stages, identify potential delays and provide referrals for services when

centers, which help new parents navigate birth and early childhood. She said the work has improved the system. “Before our project, new child care center directors may not have had developmental or behavioral health training,” she said. “Now obtaining licensure requires attending training and ensures a baseline understanding of children’s developmental and behavioral health needs.” The team also embedded Vroom, a developmental health tool, across Mississippi. ALUMNUS.MSSTATE.EDU