Health Care and Higher Education

Hospital partners with med school

May 23, 2014
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Hospital partners with med school
Officials from Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and the MSU College of Human Medicine sign their partnership agreement. Photo by Rachel Weick

Two major institutions in downtown Grand Rapids are partnering on an initiative — to combine the study of medicine with the practice of medicine.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, announced yesterday that they’re collaborating to launch a rehabilitative research and educational initiative at Mary Free Bed.

The partners

The nonprofit acute-care rehabilitation hospital has served children and adults for more than 120 years. Mary Free Bed has 80 acute-care inpatient beds, outpatient programs, home-based services and specialty services, such as prosthetics, neuromuscular re-education and driver rehabilitation.

MSU’s College of Human Medicine was founded in 1964 and has six community campuses through its affiliations with local hospitals, health care providers and physicians. Research centers focused on women’s health and Parkinson’s disease are located on the MSU Grand Rapids campus.

The partnership

Kent Riddle, chief executive officer at Mary Free Bed, said the collaboration is another great example of what like-minded, mission-driven organizations can achieve when recognizing the value of working together.

The partnership is based on a framework of three components: physicians and clinicians conducting academic research in partnership with MSU; the hospital’s ability to have faculty appointments at the College of Human Medicine; and welcoming approximately 12 medical students each year into the hospital system for a rotation.

A research hospital

Dr. John Butzer, who will led the John F. Butzer Center for Research and Innovation, said adding research and education will help Mary Free Bed better care for patients.

“Good medical institutions all have education and research,” Butzer said. “It brings in innovation and helps train the health care professionals and the physicians for tomorrow. So it ensures we will have well-trained people here for the future and that our patients will get the very latest in technology and innovation.”

With the help of Michigan State, the hospital will be attracting new, high-caliber researchers to the community to hopefully gain outside funding to fuel growth and jobs for the future, Butzer said.

“Our research efforts now are relatively small, “Butzer said. “We will be recruiting people from out of town to come in, senior scientists, and so we will be recruiting from outside to staff our department, plus the support staff will be local. It will start slow with just a handful of jobs, but if we are successful in attracting grants, we expect it to grow over time.”

Rehabilitation experience

Dr. Marsha Rappley, dean at MSU College of Human Medicine, said the collaboration combines MSU’s research expertise with Mary Free Bed’s clinical operation and will create a powerful partnership that translates into improved outcomes for patients.

“Mary Free Bed is an important institution in the city, the region, the state and, really, the nation,” Rappley said. “The reputation of this institution is worldwide. It is a wonderful opportunity for us.”

Rappley said the rehabilitative care conducted at Mary Free Bed will grant medical students an opportunity to experience how patients manage chronic conditions, witness the drive and strength of the patients and learn how a physician can support the patient and family.

“It’s an opportunity for us to really allow our students to see something that they can’t otherwise see, because what they see in the hospital and what they see in the doctor’s office, there is a part in between,” Rappley said.

Butzer added that educating the health care professionals of tomorrow part of the foundation of a great medical center, and the students will have access to the clinical activities at Mary Free Bed.

“We hope to introduce students to rehabilitation and interest them in a career in rehabilitation,” Butzer said. “With the aging population, more and more people are suffering from disability. Those people need to have hope and freedom restored to them, and we think our medical students will enjoy that.

“In some ways, it is traditional medicine in an era of high tech. We get to know our patients here. We get involved in their life. And we return them to hope and freedom.” 

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