The strained relationship between the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University Physician Group took a new turn, when they announced that they have entered into an agreement to extend contracts for clinical and administrative services provided to DMC by the WSUPG for an additional six months.
“We believe this agreement provides a sound framework for dialogue and consensus, while also stabilizing the current situation,” said Jack D. Sobel, M.D., chairman of the WSUPG Board of Directors and dean of the WSU School of Medicine (WSUSOM). “We are pleased that a Joint Advisory Committee will be working on issues of mutual significance and will include representation of WSUPG department chairs and DMC leadership. We believe this approach can result in an arrangement in the best interests of all parties, especially our patients.”
During the six-month extension, a 14-member Joint Advisory Committee comprised of DMC and WSUPG leaders will work to develop a new model for the delivery of clinical and administrative services to DMC by WSUPG physicians, and for collaboration on the strategic development of hospital and clinic services. Should the Joint Advisory Committee be unsuccessful in reaching agreement on a new model, the extension will allow time for an orderly transition to new providers of those services, which would prevent any disruption in patient care. DMC officials are hopeful that finding a new company to partner with will not happen.
“For decades, Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine have worked together to provide top-notch medical care for Detroit residents and state-of-the art training and research opportunities for the School of Medicine,” said Anthony Tedeschi, M.D., chief executive officer of DMC. “Our relationship over the years has impacted thousands of physicians and patients and based upon my discussions with Dean Sobel over the past week, I am hopeful about the possibility that we can continue our partnership in delivering excellent care to patients and growing our respective institutions.”
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said the first 90 days of the extension would be used to explore a new working model for the two institutions.
“If successful, this new framework will be implemented during the succeeding 90-day period,” said Wilson. “If they are unable to reach an agreement on a new path forward, they will use the second 90-day period to transition coverage of selected services.”
The extension relates to agreements for clinical services and administrative services provided by WSUPG physicians primarily at DMC Receiving Hospital, DMC Harper University Hospital and DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital. A separate teaching agreement under which WSUSOM medical students train at DMC hospitals is unaffected.
Last week, Tenet Healthcare Corp., a Dallas-based company that owns the DMC, informed WSU that they have decided to end negotiations and the decades-long relationship. The DMC and WSU had been in partnership for nearly 100 years, so the news came as a surprise to WSU officials. But even with the back and forth fighting, WSU officials said patients and students being treated at the DMC will not be affected by the ongoing contract talks.
“This is not anything that we wanted,” said Wayne State University Physician Group President and CEO and vascular surgeon Charles Shanley. “I don’t even think it had anything to do with the leadership here in Detroit, but I don’t know that. We are committed long-term to the DMC.”
“We are still going to provide services even if we don’t have a contract in place. We are not going to put the patients at risk and we don’t want to interrupt the education of our students. It is a distraction, but things have to get worked out and they will. The people should feel comfortable while this process plays out.”
The contract extension is music to the ears of patients like Detroit resident and cancer survivor Debbie Hunter, who has been battling Lymphoma cancer since 2005. A WSU neurosurgeon removed a piece of cancerous tumor from her head on April 3 and she is expected to follow-up with him in exactly six months. She has been following the news closely and hopes a long-term contract is worked out sooner than later.
“The news makes me feel so much better,” Hunter said. “I don’t want a new doctor. I’m supposed to go back in six months and hopefully I’ll be able to see him and not anyone else. He seems like he knows what’s best for me. There fighting affects the patients the most and they need to come to an agreement for our sake.”