UTMC postponing Request for Proposals, will focus on short-term stabilization

RFP was “one aspect of the University’s ongoing research to explore all possible options for the future of the hospital.”
The University of Toledo Medical Center
The University of Toledo Medical Center(WTVG)
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 9:07 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - In an email obtained by 13abc, the University of Toledo detailed its decision to postpone its Request for Proposals process to identify a partner or buyer indefinitely and instead focus on stabilizing the University of Toledo Medical Center’s fiscal challenges.

The email states that the RFP was “one aspect of the University’s ongoing research to explore all possible options for the future of the hospital.” The hospital leadership points to the following improvements in making progress in the short-term stabilization efforts:

• Amending our medical bylaws, which has led to 16 Toledo Clinic physicians who are now credentialed to work in our hospital.

• Enhancing partnerships with the Toledo Clinic in key practice areas, including hematology, oncology, cardiology and infusion services.

• Continuing to work with the UT Physician group on new program and operational efficiencies.

• Approval of UTMC’s request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a rural designation change providing $5 million in additional reimbursement.

• Implementing business efficiency and cost reduction strategies.

“There has been much public discussion about the fiscal challenges facing our hospital. This is indeed a challenge we must address, and we will continue to do so,” UToledo Interim President Gregory Postel said in a press release. “We recognize the important role of the hospital in our community and are doing our due diligence to address the impact of the hospital’s current financial condition on the University enterprise, while thoughtfully determining the best long-term solution.”

In March, the Board of Trustees voted to amend the hospital’s medical bylaws, removing the faculty-appointment restriction for practicing physicians. Since then, 16 Toledo Clinic physicians have been credentialed at UTMC. The hospital is also working with the Toledo Clinic to explore partnership opportunities in areas such as hematology, oncology, cardiology and infusion services.

A press release also said UTMC anticipates adding two family medicine physicians within the next quarter. Recent hires at UTMC include two critical care specialists, an electrophysiologist and a new transparent surgeon.

U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur applauded the decision to postpone the process.

“I am deeply thankful the University of Toledo Board and Interim President Dr. Gregory Postel have answered our call to stay the sale of UTMC – especially considering mounting community concern and the ongoing pandemic,” Rep. Kaptur said. “Decisions of this magnitude require careful consideration, transparency, oversight, and input from the community. The sale of northwest Ohio’s only public hospital during a public health emergency in my view would not only be a mistake, but a moral injustice.”

The hospital has faced continuing financial woes, with a deficit of more than $25 million. The health care system has been hit hard during the COVID crisis. One of the major issues was the elective surgeries that were cancelled throughout the country, and it was no different there.

During COVID, hospital admissions were down almost 25% year over year.

UT will be getting $6.4 million fewer dollars in this fiscal year from ProMedica with that academic affiliation agreement. According to the University, fewer residents were transferred to ProMedica than the original agreement called for. UT officials say that's because of a lack of faculty at ProMedica for the residents.

“We’ve been working with ProMedica to make sure we can have that faculty at ProMedica supervising. That’s just a lot of detailed work,” Dr. Chris Cooper said.

The University of Toledo Medical Center has decided to postpone its RFP process.
The University of Toledo Medical Center has decided to postpone its RFP process.(WTVG)

In June, ProMedica was the only bid to form a partnership with UTMC to jointly operate the hospital with the University of Toledo. In the bid, UT would maintain ownership of the hospital.

At the time, ProMedica said it would keep health care service on the campus, stabilize finances, retain jobs and preserve the university's oversight of the hospital.

ProMedica released the following statement Thursday.

“ProMedica responded to the public request for proposal (RFP) because we thought we had a unique local solution that would have met the needs of all of the major constituents and preserved UTMC as a publicly-owned hospital by UToledo. Our goal was to step up as a local anchor institution and provide a Toledo-based solution for UTMC, as health systems headquartered elsewhere tend to invest less in our community. We recently learned that UToledo has decided to indefinitely postpone the RFP process to explore another path forward for UTMC. We understand and respect that the university has to make business decisions it believes will work best for its organization. ProMedica will continue to focus on providing extraordinary care at its top-rated facilities and honoring our commitment to the community through a number of much-needed efforts and initiatives.”

The university’s relationship with ProMedica has been a hot button subject, especially in South Toledo. State Senator Teresa Fedor blasted a 2015 academic affiliation agreement between the medical school and ProMedica. That agreement did not involve the hospital.

Senator Fedor is asking if the affiliation agreement equated to a “hostile takeover” of the hospital.

Professors and state senators alike have raised concerns about ProMedica’s bid to take over operations at UTMC. Sen. Fedor even wrote an open letter calling for the resignation of Dr. Cooper, Dean of the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences and chair of the UT Physicians board.

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