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Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 9:37 a.m.

University of Michigan Health System and Trinity Health announce new affiliation agreement

By Paula Gardner

The University of Michigan Health System and Trinity Health-Michigan have signed a new master affiliation agreement that paves the way for close cooperation between the two health systems that will benefit patients around the state.

According to a news release, "The agreement signals an intention to work together on specific opportunities that may be developed by teams of physicians and leaders from both systems."

The affiliation begins first in southeast Michigan, including Ann Arbor, where the University Hospitals are just a few miles from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

The goal is to extend it statewide, according to officials.

The two systems have "been working together over the years," said Garry Faja, president and chief executive officer of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. "This formalizes it, based on some guiding principles."

Patients will receive care in the most appropriate place, according to the announcement. It also will "seek to improve the safety net for the uninsured."

The agreement - initiated in mid-2011 - also calls for both systems to explore best options for:

  • inpatient hospital capacity.
  • high- complexity care for the most seriously ill patients.
  • children’s care.
  • cancer care.
  • physician training and hiring.
  • clinical research.
  • support services such as information technology.

Both health systems also will be positioned to take advantage of new federal programs that provide incentives for organizations to coordinate care.

“We are thrilled to embark on this level of affiliation, which makes us Trinity’s preferred academic partner in Michigan and sets the stage for great things to come,” said Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., the executive vice president for medical affairs at U-M and CEO of UMHS, in a news release. “This makes possible so many opportunities that could benefit patients statewide by providing the care they need at the best place for them, ensuring our future supply of physicians and creating new knowledge from research.”

Staffing at the health centers won't change, Faja said. And there is no plan to realign departments.

"That's not in the vision of this agreement."

However, future space needs may be affected by the affiliation.

"Instead of building new facilities, (it could let us) look at how to use existing facilities to a higher capacity," Faja said.

Trinity Health operates hospitals in Chelsea, Howell, Livonia, Pontiac, Port Huron and Saline; Grayling and Cadillac in northern Michigan; and Mercy Health in Grand Rapids and Muskegon.

UMHS recently opened a new, $754 million Mott Children's Hospital among its other capital improvements in recent years.

There are no cost-savings projects so far, Faja said.

The next step is to establish an oversight group, he said, with teams that define the scope of work and time lines. That group has not been determined, but it will include top administration and physicians.

The agreement is not exclusive, Faja said. Existing collaborations - such as with Michigan State University and Wayne State University - will continue.

One example of how the collaboration will work is in cancer care, Faja said. Trinity Health operates 16 cancer centers as the Mercy Cancer Network in southern Michigan, while U-M pursues a level of research, like Phase 1 clinical trials, that Trinity doesn't.

"This can improve how we deliver cancer services," Faja said.

The statewide elements of the affiliation make it important to the future of Michigan's health care industry, Faja said. Costs ultimately should be contained as a result of this initial move.

"I think the way the market is changing, with the discussions of health care reform, that you'll be seeing more people tyring to collaborate and respond to the health care needs of the community ... and not compete," Faja said.



Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

When will UM Hospital officials, real reporters, or some other organization address the "very real " religious conflict of this agreement as it relates to medical care for women & families? Trinity Health is the largest "Catholic" medical group in the country and they follow the guiding principles of the Catholic church. Therefore, if anyone goes to their hospital and need services for fertility issues, issues related to miscarriages (which is a spontaneous abortion), contraceptives, end of life decisions and so on..their treatment is in compromised. Any person who works for them (non-Catholics) are subject to their limited view of healthcare choices. Do they get to denied employment to anyone who is gay also? This agreement does not benefit the people of Washtenaw County. It's just so disappointing that such a great medical hospital would willingly aligned themselves with a religious institution that will ultimately limit healthcare for more women, families, and their non-catholic employees that run contrary to their beliefs.

Dagrmc McEwen

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

I don't need the Catholic Church or their 16th century ideas trying to control my wife's or my daughters lives. They have done a rather poor job in controlling the lives of the young men under their control.

Dagrmc McEwen

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Trinity is not my preferred hospital care resource. They limit the access to TV stations; provide access to Fox (NEWS?) but not MSNBC. Cannot access Netflix at St. Joe's. Trinity needs to reassess their control over patient's lives while in the institution.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3 p.m.

fact is if people want birth control and abortions they're going to get them some place or the other. To the anti birth controllers my thought is would you rather enlarge an already to large welfare system system to pay even more people to have even more kids?Abstinence is a fine theory but it's just a theory and it DOES NOT WORK.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

I like this.It can only benefit patients and that is supposev to be the purpose of healthcare.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.

Why is this a good thing? Did anyone care to research how this agreement with St. Joseph will affect the health of women &amp; life ending decisions. It is a well known fact that Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly limiting access to treatments like contraception, fertility treatments, abortion and sterilization. Some won't even perform treatment after a miscarriage, tubal ligation after a C-section. What about the people who work for St. Joe who are non-catholic and the clients who are non-catholics? Are we going to be forced to be treated according to their beliefs? Did anyone at think to ask UM how they are going to work around their religious (Catholic) tenets as it relates to the aforementioned issues? Read the NYT article, it's really scary. If you think, I'm wrong, go to St. Jo website (&quot;The SJMHS Difference&quot;) it specifically state: Today, everything we do is inspired by our Catholic faith tradition. The Mission: We serve together in Trinity Health, in the spirit of the Gospel, to heal body, mind and spirit, to improve the health of our communities and to steward the resources entrusted to us. This is not a good decision. My family &amp; employer knows that in case of an emergency to not send me to any religious hospital and now I will have to make sure that I am not taken to any hospital except the main UM hospital in Michigan. I am also more scared than ever before about where I could be sent in case of a medical emergency. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

Does anyone know if this means Priority Health will partner with UMHS now? Right now, we are to go to SJMH, but U of M is much closer!


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

Hmmph. I'm a St Joe's employee who lives in Ann Arbor and was filled with glee when I first read about this at work today. Joe's does not have pediatric specialties, and UM does. I have two kids who need them. However, there will be no changes to benefits for employees, and UM is out of network for us, so I will still have to take my kids to Detroit for the care they need.


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

They have tried this before and the nuns couldn't get past abortions and contraceptives enough to work together harmoniously...


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Makes sense, IF there is real follow up by the Health Systems. should follow up on the relationship in 90 days and report back to the community.


Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

This makes sense for efficiency, collaboration and cost containment. It makes sense.