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U officials: Fairview merger would have 'direct impact'

Posted by: Jenna Ross Updated: March 29, 2013 - 3:31 PM

The University of Minnesota is taking a deep look at how a merger between Fairview Health Services and Sanford Health would affect its long-term arrangement with Fairview.

In a note Thursday to faculty and staff, two U leaders said the university is analyzing the possible effects of such a change:

This process will include a financial and legal analysis, but must also seriously and critically evaluate the commitment of any new entity to our academic mission, including medical education, clinical research, and cutting-edge, quality patient care. Without that commitment, we will be unable to meet our obligations to the citizens of Minnesota. We will also assess philanthropic alignment and questions of brand and reputation.

Aaron Friedman, vice president of the U's Academic Health Center and dean of the Medical School, and Bobbi Daniels, CEO of University of Minnesota Physicians, also said they were "encouraged by Fairview leadership's statements that a combination with Sanford Health will not move forward if the university objects."

We reported this week that Fairview "is weighing a merger with South Dakota-based Sanford Health in negotiations that have triggered concerns on the part of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson."

The university is in the midst of its own negotiations with Fairview over a new affiliation agreement. The e-mail says U officials "are hopeful about coming to an agreement this spring."

Here's the full text:

Dear Colleagues,

This week's media coverage about talks of a potential merger between Fairview Health Services and Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health offers us an opportunity to update you on our current discussions and to share some of the key issues we are exploring.

As you know, the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Physicians have had an affiliation with Fairview that has envisioned an important and long-term partnership for research, education, and clinical care. This is a relationship that has deepened and evolved over time. For the past 18 months, we have been engaged in discussions with Fairview to strengthen this alignment. These negotiations are complex and ongoing, but we are hopeful about coming to an agreement this spring.

A merger of Fairview with another health care system would have a direct impact on the University and our affiliation agreement. The University intends to carefully evaluate any merger of Fairview with another health care system in the context of our academic, clinical, and research mission. Our priority in reviewing any specific concept or proposal will be to place the shared interests of the University and the citizens of the State of Minnesota as our top consideration. While most of UMP's activity with Fairview is at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and Amplatz Children's Hospital, the University and UMP also have significant clinical and educational programs in other parts of the Fairview system.

We are encouraged by Fairview leadership's statements that a combination with Sanford Health will not move forward if the University objects.

The U is engaged in a due diligence process to better understand the implications of a possible Sanford-Fairview merger and, generally, the continued evolution of the health care landscape. This process will include a financial and legal analysis, but must also seriously and critically evaluate the commitment of any new entity to our academic mission, including medical education, clinical research, and cutting-edge, quality patient care. Without that commitment, we will be unable to meet our obligations to the citizens of Minnesota. We will also assess philanthropic alignment and questions of brand and reputation.

Finally, we are cooperating fully with the Attorney General, the Governor, and other policymakers as they consider this critical issue, and we appreciate their concern and interest in the University.

We must ensure that in this changing health care landscape our partnership with Fairview continues a strong commitment to our mission and enables the University to attract thousands of world-class physicians, medical residents, and other health care providers for Minnesota, as well as conduct research that leads to breakthroughs and helps millions of people lead healthier lives.

It remains a central priority of ours and President Kaler that the health sciences enterprise across all mission areas is positioned to succeed. We will continue to keep you updated on these and other related issues.

Sincerely,
Aaron Friedman, dean, University of Minnesota Medical School and vice president, Academic Health Center
Bobbi Daniels, vice dean, clinical affairs, University of Minnesota Medical School and CEO, University of Minnesota Physicians

 

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