Friday Faculty Focus: Karoly Mirnics


May 26th, 2017

Dr. Karoly Mirnics poses for a photo. (Photo courtesy UNMC)

Now it’s time for Friday Faculty Focus with KVNO reporter Brandon McDermott. This week, he speaks with the director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Karoly Mirnics.

Brandon McDermott: Dr. Karoly Mirnics, thanks for coming on the show

Dr. Karoly Mirnics: Thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Brandon: You’re the director of the Munroe Meyer Institute here in Omaha at UNMC. Can you talk about the work you do there?

Dr. Mirnics: We are probably the best kept secret in the state and probably nationally and internationally. We have grown to the premier institute that takes care of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are providing currently services approximately at 45 communities across the state, so we have a very strong presence across the whole state.

Brandon: You came to MMI in 2016, just last year. Can you talk about what you’ve done in that time?

Dr. Mirnics: What have we done? That’s a very long list already. So, when I arrived the waiting list for genetic medicine services was over a year. We worked together with our providers and we told that yes that’s just completely unacceptable from a patient standpoint, what can be do? Now, I should point out (with) that these services – this waiting list – is not unique to us. If you look at any major medical center, the average wait time is about the year to get these services. We have only four genetic medicine specialists in the state and all four of them for Munroe-Meyer Institute. So we sat down and we talked it over and he came up with a number of different strategies, measures, reorganization, long-term plans – how to improve these waiting lists. We managed in the first six months to reduce the waiting time from about a year and a bit to less than six weeks.

Brandon: Within the Munroe-Meyer Institute there are 14 departments and more than 500 employees – how do you keep everyone on the same page and all the departments interconnected?

Dr. Mirnics: That’s one of the major challenges. It’s hard, because we have occupational therapists speech language pathologists, recreation specialists, physical therapists psychologists, a genetic medicine laboratory, developmental and behavior pediatricians, so in this hodgepodge of everything that we have, there is a common thread. The common thread is that we care about our population that we serve – individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities or other special needs. This joint vision allows us to overcome some of the differences and some of the professional – different professional ways to operate. Is it easy? No. Is it a continuous challenge? Yes. The continuous challenges here that also adds to the challenge, not just the diversity of the professions, but also that we are located across multiple buildings. Communities tend to develop building identities rather than institute entities in this case.

Brandon: You served in the Yugoslav National Army in Alpine Forces. What was that time like?

Dr. Mirnics: Interesting and challenging. Wonderful and I hated every moment of it. (There’s) all these mixed emotions when I think back on it. So, I was a pretty wild kid – so I was taken into the mandatory army after high school – it gave me structure, it gave me discipline, it gave me work ethic and it allowed me to see the value of the teamwork. So in many ways I think it changed me for better and changed me for my whole life. Physically it was grueling, it was very, very demanding and served about 14-15 months and it flew by like a second. Because we were always busy, we were always doing something and I learned a lot of new skills. When I came out, I thought if I don’t ever see another snowflake in my life – I will be a happy man which (living in Nebraska) is obviously not the case.

Brandon: Dr. Mirnics, thank you for coming in.
Dr. Mirnics: Thank you. It was my pleasure.

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