February 1, 2018
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I encourage you to be a source of light and love that makes our campus, country, and the world a better place. We paid homage to Dr. King last month, and we continue to honor the contributions of African Americans to United States history in February, Black History Month.
Bringing it home, this installment of Expresso focuses on the inspired efforts of the facilities team on Parnassus to make our work life and environment better, as well as some very impressive improvements to our clinical trials process:
- Track More with OnCore: Better billing practices and compliance – eureka!
- Little Fixes, Big Impacts: Looking good, Parnassus!
- To Your Health: UCSF ensures high-quality drinking water
On a very serious note, in regard to potential immigration enforcement actions at any UCSF location related to the recently announced “sweeps” of sanctuary cities, please frequently check the UC Office of the President website for urgent information. Also, an FAQ is available in English and Spanish for individuals with temporary protected status.
You probably have an idea for something else I could write about in a future Expresso. I want to hear it! Please always feel free to contact me at [email protected].
Track More with OnCore: Better billing practices and compliance – eureka!
Here at UCSF, we are constantly looking for ways to both ensure research compliance and better support our clinical research community. One such effort is the adoption of a clinical trial management system called OnCore. Short for Online Collaborative Research Environment, it provides a secure, standardized, and reportable database and permits efficient sharing of protocol information between the Study Team and the Coverage Analyst within one tool.
This is important because in the world of clinical research, patient billing errors can occur, especially for patients who are receiving standard clinical care but are also enrolled in clinical studies – not a good situation. If we want people to keep coming back and participating in our trials, we have to work hard to minimize these errors. Thanks to OnCore and the Office of Clinical Research (OCR), however, help is on the way. Read on…
Our efforts to improve clinical trials activation began in 2016, and while clinical trial management still involves some pretty complicated processes, there are enhancements that I think everyone will welcome – primarily, the OnCore central repository for all UCSF Clinical Research Study Subject Enrollment Data – that will facilitate a more efficient and accurate billing process. In addition, the steps taken by OCR will ensure that UCSF is in compliance with all the necessary regulations and keep us in line with the best practices of other top research institutions.
A formal Coverage Analysis (CA) process is used at UCSF to ensure compliant clinical research billing. A CA is necessary for all clinical trials involving interventions in which any items and services are or may be invoiced to the patient insurer(s). Any clinical research on human subjects submitted to the Institutional Review Board will be analyzed to determine whether a CA will be required. All clinical trials or research studies requiring CA must have a record in OnCore, and this spring, we will begin enrolling and tracking subjects in OnCore for clinical trials that bill through APeX. The good news is that the OCR is here to help support you in this process with services that include new study set up, calendar building, and coverage analysis.
In the weeks to come, please be on the lookout for campus-wide messaging and be sure to check the Track More with OnCore web page for more information. The OCR will be offering many opportunities for you to learn about and experience OnCore, including:
- in-person Town Halls featuring an OnCore update and training session
- interactive online training and assessment
- informational posters placed around campus
- swag given to all trained users
“This is a value-add,” says Eunice Stephens, who wears two hats, reporting to both the medical center and the campus as the executive director for both UCSF Health Clinical Research, Operations and Administration and OCR. She wants faculty to know, “The system will ultimately benefit you because now you have extra support. And, most importantly, it’s good for our clinical research patients because this will lessen the chance that they have to deal with all the hassle that comes with receiving incorrect billing information.”
The way things used to work is patients would sign up for a clinical trial, and billing would happen without the CA being used. “Now UCSF has a centralized system in place in which, if a patient enrolls in a clinical trial, UCSF will clearly see that the individual has been enrolled in that trial and will then hold charges accordingly,” Eunice explains. “Currently, we’re manually going through and making sure the items that are just standard-of-care are being billed to insurance or Medicare, and that the research is properly sent to the right payor. OnCore will systematize the collection of key data to support accurate billing in APeX.”
If those incentives aren’t enough, then perhaps the consequences will resonate. Failing to bring the system into compliance could come with steep and expensive penalties – and we don’t want that!
Please join us at one of the Town Hall meetings, for key information and swag…and who doesn’t love swag?
Little Fixes, Big Impacts: Looking good, Parnassus!
I’ve written about construction projects taking place at Parnassus Heights and the vision planning for its future in past installments of Expresso – see “Project Parnassus: If these walls could talk,” “PZ2025/UCSF 2030: Bold ideas being tossed around about the future of UCSF” and “The New and Awesome Parnassus: What’s going on?” But it’s not all about building projects and shiny new labs. Facilities Services teams in Campus Life Services have a range of smaller projects – completed, in progress, or planned – that are helping bring back the shine to Parnassus.
Jon Giacomi, assistant vice chancellor of Campus Facilities Services, is leading the effort. “We found we could do things that were immediate and noticeable,” he says. “The little stuff does matter.” These projects fall into several categories:
- Facilities Investment Needs, on which we’re spending $213.7 million over 10 years to tackle deferred maintenance issues.
- Renewal Program, in which we’re spending $83 million over 10 years to address infrastructure issues in 25-year-old buildings, including the Dental Clinics Building, University Library, and Mount Zion Cancer Research Center. Over time, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other major systems wear out, and now we’re working to make these buildings last.
- Parnassus Small Improvement Projects, on which we’ll spend $2.7 million this fiscal year to tackle manageable situations, e.g., laying new carpet in the library, brightening a lot of our restrooms, and remodeling the Nursing Mezzanine.
- The First Impressions Campus-Wide Contest, in which 12 projects costing $10,000 or less were chosen for additional quick fixes.
The First Impressions Contest is perhaps the most exciting, because suggestions come directly from the UCSF community. Giacomi’s team received 54 entries last year, and ultimately picked 12 winners including nine at Parnassus. Winning projects included new landscaping and benches at the library’s Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute (aka FAMRI) terrace and garden, and improved gateways to campus, including at the Irving Street entrance and the Faculty Alumni House.
Good news – the contest is back for a second year! The deadline is Friday, March 2, so check out this year’s rules and submit your entry!
Cesar Sanchez, director of facilities for West Campus operations, explains that since last year, Facilities has placed an increased emphasis on building occupants – the students, faculty, staff, and administrators who work in the buildings every day. The facilities teams appreciate being able to work on projects with a greater “wow” factor, ones that have an immediate impact on people’s work lives.
Christopher Gonzalez, senior facilities manager, notes, “Historically, there hasn’t been a big focus on improving high-traffic areas and meeting places. Now there is. We’re focusing on quick-win projects that make an impact on how an occupant feels about the building.” For example, many of us called attention to restrooms showing signs of age. Facilities will be refreshing 70 of the most high-traffic restrooms at Parnassus. More stairwells will get murals and other artwork to brighten our environment and encourage walking over riding the elevator. Millberry Union also will get a dose of much-needed TLC, starting with some new furniture in the food court – hopefully before summer.
“When you build a building, you have to take care of it, as you do with your car,” says Clare Shinnerl, associate vice chancellor for Campus Life Services. Clare’s group is working attentively to develop and adhere to a rigorous building maintenance and renewal plan. She adds, “With that plan, we’re fully committed to improving the state of our buildings.”
According to Confucius, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” I hope this overview has opened your eyes to recent and planned upgrades at Parnassus and the efforts of our dedicated Facilities Services team.
To Your Health: UCSF ensures high-quality drinking water
No regulations dictate that UCSF test its drinking water for lead, but as a major health sciences university, we decided to do the right thing to make sure our water is safe.
This has been a daunting undertaking, since UCSF has an estimated 5,000 drinking fountains, ice machines, water-filling stations, and kitchen faucets located across its nearly 12 million square feet of real estate and ten San Francisco sites.
Nearly two years into the project, I wanted to provide a status report and explain why I’m proud that UCSF is undertaking this effort. I should note that few, if any, large universities in the U.S. have tested to the extent that we have. UCSF is using the EPA 3Ts protocol, which is designed for K–12 schools.
Let me begin with a status report: Although the project team is less than halfway through the testing process, the good news is that 95 percent of all sampled locations have tested below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action level of 20 parts per billion (ppb). In fact, most of the 95 percent that tested below the action level actually tested at undetectable levels of lead, at less than 1 ppb.
A few samples did yield readings of lead above the recommended action level of 20 ppb. As a result, UCSF has spent countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing and replacing plumbing fixtures and faucets. And, since clarity and transparency (puns intended) are key to our success, all results and pertinent details are posted on the Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) website, where you can read more about this project, including status, strategy, and FAQs.
We are undertaking the testing because, while San Francisco gets most of its drinking water from a pristine source – the Hetch Hetchy, a large reservoir near Yosemite National Park – the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) reminds residents that it can only assure quality water within the city’s distribution system. Once the water enters a building’s plumbing system, quality is the responsibility of the building owner. UCSF takes that responsibility seriously, especially given that many campus buildings were constructed long before tighter regulations limited the use of lead in the 1980s.
Many employees from across the enterprise have been working tirelessly on this effort. I’m grateful to all them, and especially want to thank Travis Clark, environmental specialist with EH&S who has been the project manager leading this effort. (Some of you might recall that Travis was recognized for his efforts as project manager with the 2017 Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional University Service.)
To guide this complicated and sensitive project, I’m also grateful that the project team assembled a stellar scientific advisory board, including UCSF’s Dr. Timur S. Durrani, a medical toxicologist, Dr. Robert Kosnik, director of Occupational Health Services, and pediatrician Dr. Anisha Patel. The team also recruited external scientific advisors: Andrew DeGraca, director of the SFPUC’s Water Quality Division, and June Weintraub, who oversees water for the San Francisco Public Health Department.
“UCSF showed that this can be accomplished, and you can be very proud when it’s all said and done,” says DeGraca. “At UCSF, you have patients, students, employees, and the general public, and you can tell them they’re all going to be that much safer than at most other places they can visit.”
I’ll drink to that!
Dan’s Tip of the Month
By now you’ve heard the buzz about Lady Bird, which won two Golden Globe awards and has received five Oscar nominations including best picture. If you haven’t yet seen it – believe me, it lives up to the hype. Not a simple coming-of-age plot, the story line is poignant, many of the characters are relatable, and the dialogue is captivating. And nice to see Sacramento featured on the big screen. It gets my Academy vote!