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Fairview signals doubt with partner U of Minnesota

Fairview Health Services does not want to extend its affiliation as it stands with the University of Minnesota past 2026, the Star Tribune reported Nov. 20.

Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services and University of Minnesota and its affiliated physicians have partnered since 2018 for M Health Fairview. The affiliation was set to automatically renew for another decade — starting in 2027 — unless either party objected to the renewal by Dec. 31. 

"We will continue to operate jointly as M Health Fairview through at least December 31, 2026, while we work to forge a new partnership with the University of Minnesota," Fairview Health President and CEO James Hereford said in an email to employees obtained by the Star Tribune.

"This step is not a statement about the future of a partnership with the University, rather that this current agreement cannot be what carries us into the future," Mr. Hereford said. "To be clear: I see tremendous value for our patients and our community in a continued partnership with the University."

The University of Minnesota said its leaders have previously signaled their belief that the affiliation, as it stands, needs to change. "Fairview's announcement today simply reaffirms those statements," the university said in a statement to the local news outlet. "Today's news does not affect the clinical partnership we have with Fairview today."

Fairview has 11 hospitals and approximately 31,000 employees. University of Minnesota's medical school trains about 70% of the state's physician workforce, and its physician group counts toward the 3,300 providers that make up M Health Fairview. 

"A partnership between University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Physicians and Fairview Health Services combines the University's deep history of clinical innovation and training with Fairview's extensive roots in community medicine," the systems have described the affiliated group. 

This summer, Fairview hit the brakes on its proposed merger with Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health after multiple delays. The deal would have created a 50-hospital health system with around 78,000 employees. The University of Minnesota opposed the merger due to the change in control it would bring to the state's public teaching hospital. 

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