U of Minnesota unveils new vision for medical center

The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and its medical school announced a new strategic plan Jan. 12, which includes taking back ownership of healthcare facilities from Fairview Health Services in addition to possibly building a new hospital.

The university transferred ownership of the University of Minnesota Medical Center to Minneapolis-based Fairview in 1997, according to an ABC news affiliate, and its current agreement with the health system expires in 2026. Fairview is exploring a merger with Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., which has come under scrutiny. The university said it would continue participating in discussions with the Minnesota attorney general and others about the proposed deal.

In a five-point plan, the University of Minnesota noted it "must own, govern and control" flagship facilities, including University of Minnesota Medical Center, to achieve its vision.

"We have a great research university, a great medical school and a great education program. It just makes sense that we have great hospital facilities in which we can combine all three in the same place," said Jakub Tolar, dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School and vice president for clinical affairs. "Seven of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. are directly associated with a medical school because that's how you improve care quickly. You streamline the process of bringing groundbreaking therapies to patients. You improve the practice of medicine by changing it in real time. We want these benefits for Minnesota and to serve Minnesotans in ways that only a hospital associated with a leading research university can."

Fairview is still interested in a clinical partnership between the university and the combined Fairview and Sanford system, and has engaged in good faith with the University of Minnesota since August to propose multiple partnership options, according to a joint statement from Fairview and Sanford sent to Becker's.

"Despite repeated requests since August of last year, we have had no opportunity to meet with President [Joan] Gabel or Regent [Kendall] Powell. In the interest of partnership, we put many options on the table, including the University repurchasing the East Bank academic medical center from the combined system. We look forward to working together with the University to better understand the details of their vision and determining fair market value for the assets they may seek. We also hope to learn more about their financial and operating plans in addition to the care partnerships necessary to support the University's teaching and academic missions. Our ultimate priority is supporting our staff and ensuring continuity of care for the patients we serve," the statement reads.

The plan highlighted opportunities for partnerships that would benefit Minnesotans and support the system's teaching and research missions. The plan also notes the need for a new hospital complex on land the university required years ago. The planning and construction is expected to take at least five years.

 Editor's note: This article was updated at 2:30 pm CDT on Jan. 13 to reflect the joint statement between Fairview and Sanford Health.


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