U-M won't boost potential Metro program

March 30, 2009
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University of Michigan Health System CEO Robert Kelch said Wednesday that the hospital is providing Metro Health Hospital with advice on the possible establishment of a cardiovascular program, but has no plans to bring in surgeons or be a financial partner.

He said that U-M cardiovascular surgeons venture as far west as Jackson’s Foote Memorial Hospital, but “it’s impractical for us to expand surgical services in this direction,” said Kelch, a physician. U-M is aiding Metro Health with “thinking through,” giving advice about whether they should do more in cardiovascular, he added.

Kelch’s remarks came during a meeting with the Business Journal that included his successor, Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, currently executive associate dean for research affairs at the Indiana School of Medicine. Pescovitz takes the helm at U-M in May. Kelch said he has a retirement date in September.

Kelch called Metro Health President & CEO Mike Faas “dynamic” and “visionary,” and said the radiation oncology joint venture at the Cancer Center at Metro Health has “exceeded expectations.” He also said he is impressed with the facility’s green initiatives and thinks the location for the hospital, which relocated from Grand Rapids to Byron Center Avenue SW and M-6 in suburban Wyoming in 2007, is excellent.

Faas said Metro Health and U-M are “locked in” for four projects, and Metro Health is poised to announce two other partnerships with U-M within weeks, which are outside the cancer and cardiovascular areas.

He said a cardiovascular feasibility study being done by an Ohio consultant is expected to be complete in April. The hospital expects to make a decision after that.

“We have six or seven different projects we are working with them on,” Faas said of U-M. “Cardiology is one of them. They were lukewarm at this time.”

He said one project is research oriented, looking at the introduction of evidence-based medicine into the primary care setting.

“They’ve been a great partner,” Faas added.  “For the most part, all they want to do is advance patient care, do research and train their doctors. Their purposes are great. They don’t care about market share.”

Kelch agreed that U-M is not interested in establishing itself as a competitor in the West Michigan hospital market.

“Our intent (is to be) a tertiary care, regional center for the state,” he said. “We want to be the place that if you can’t get care locally, you think of Ann Arbor first.”

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