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Health System will remain part of the University. By Judith Rodin
or not to remain an integrated health system under the Penn banner: That
was the question that a special joint committee of medical faculty and
University trustees intensely pondered over the last few months. In numerous
meetings, committee members sought input from key stakeholders, pored
over the prior work of other committees that had grappled with the issue,
and reviewed a range of options.
much debate and discussion, Penn trustees chose to follow a course of
action, recommended by the joint committee, to keep the University of
Pennsylvania Health System in one piece. After carefully weighing our
options, including the sale of Penns hospitals to one of several for-profit
suitors, I believe this decision will best uphold the central academic
mission of our School of Medicine and Health System: to translate teaching
and research into practical benefits for humanity.
short, our trustees simply are not willing to put a selling price on the
enormous teaching, research, and life-saving capacity of Penns cutting-edge
Health System. Consequently, one of the finest medical centers in the
world will remain in the hands of a University committed to the very best
in education, teaching, and patient care.
the same time, we continue to live in the real world of balance sheets,
rising costs, declining reimbursement payments, and nursing shortages.
Faced with these challenges every day, the Health System has made great
progress toward financial recovery. Not only has the whole team, headed
by interim CEO Robert Martin and Health System Board Chair Russ Palmer,
pulled together to stanch the hemorrhaging of red ink; it has rallied
to post a positive return for the first half of the 2001 fiscal year.
the Health System shoulders a very sizeable debt burden, and it will need
additional capital over the next several years to support our academic
and clinical missions, reinvest in our fixed assets, and cover debt service.
Given the uncertainties of a volatile health-care marketplace, Penns
Health System must continue charting a prudent path to financial recovery
to ensure the long-term viability needed to pursue its academic mission.
University trustees have devised a clear course of action that includes
the following principles and measures:
The University is committed to maintaining an integrated health system.
The trustees will review and approve terms worked out by special committees
to establish a new, not-for-profit entity 501(c)(3) for the Health System
that would remain wholly owned by the University. With its own CEO and
governing board, the new organization will have the flexibility and autonomy
it needs to compete and respond swiftly and strategically to changes in
a challenging and often unpredictable marketplace.
The University will continue to consider joint ventures on capital projects
and potential alliances with partners who share our commitment to academic
medicine and our vision of an integrated commitment to teaching, research,
and patient care.
steps strengthen the Health Systems position. They preserve the School
of Medicines access to a full array of clinical settings for teaching
and researchan invaluable component of Penns academic missionand they
allow UPHS to compete aggressively in the commercial marketplace.
important, patients will continue to receive superior care, whether they
visit a Penn physician, or come to any one of Penns hospitals or treatment
should not lose sight of the Health Systems many formidable strengths
that have made it so attractive to medical students and faculty, not to
mention the for-profit sector. The School of Medicine is ranked among
the top four medical schools in the nation and is the second leading recipient
of funds from the National Institutes of Health. The Hospital of the University
of Pennsylvania is perennially listed by U.S. News and
World Report as one of the best hospitals in the nation. And the Health
System continues to garner numerous national awards and honors for excellence.
we still must navigate through choppy waters to reach safe harbor, the
Health System is blessed with a strong fleet of facilities and a stellar
crew of health-care professionals, faculty, and students. In the meantime,
we look forward to completing our search to appoint an innovative and
energetic executive vice president/dean with a vision to chart a future
course for continued excellence.
told, our Health System crew will have the support and direction both
to keep our first-rate academic medical center on the cutting edge of
education, research and patient care, and to uphold the School of Medicines
standing as one of the top medical schools in the country.
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