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U of M announces intent to gain full ownership of Twin Cities healthcare facilities, new medical center

U of M wants to break tie to Fairview
U of M wants to break tie to Fairview 02:08

MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota announced Thursday its intent to gain full ownership of the existing healthcare facilities on its Twin Cities campus, currently owned by Fairview Health Services.

The university and its medical school announced its new "MPact Health Care Innovation vision" aimed to make Minnesota a leader in healthcare.

"With great inspiration from Minnesota and with insights from university researchers, faculty, physicians and health care professionals, the MPact Health Care Innovation vision is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to channel our unique ability to elevate our state, improve the lives of all Minnesotans and position Minnesota as a global leader for the next century," said President Joan Gabel.

As part of its vision, U of M also plans on constructing a new state-of-the-art medical center along the east bank of the Twin Cities campus.

Rendering of a future, world-class University medical center on the Twin Cities campus. Credit: Cannon Design. Cannon Design

"Seven of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. are directly associated with a medical school because that's how you improve care quickly," said Jakub Tolar, dean of the U of M Medical School. "We want these benefits for Minnesota and to serve Minnesotans in ways that only a hospital associated with a leading research university can."

University of Minnesota leaders are calling for short-term and long-term partnerships from elected leaders to help fund the transition of ownership, as well as upgrading existing facilities and joining in the planning of a new medical center on the east bank of the Twin Cities campus.

To achieve their vision, Gabel says they need the state's help.

"We are calling on Attorney General Ellison and Governor Walz and the state legislature to support shifting these facilities to the university," said Gabel.

Myron Frans is the U of M Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations. He said they still want to honor their agreement with Fairview and said their partnership is important and works in many ways.

"Obviously there's some financial issues that Fairview is having from the operations, and we have to figure out how and why, and we want to be part of that discussion," said Frans.

MORE: AG Ellison seeks public comment ahead of possible approval of Fairview, Sanford merger

In a statement, Fairview Health Services and Sanford Health said they were blindsided by the university's announcement.

"As we stated at this week's community meeting with Attorney General Ellison, we remain interested in a clinical partnership between the University and the combined Fairview/Sanford system. Since August, we have engaged in good faith with the University of Minnesota and brought forward many options for partnership. Despite repeated requests since August of last year, we have had no opportunity to meet with President Gabel or Regent Powell.

"In the interest of partnership, we put many options on the table, including the University repurchasing the East Bank academic medical center from the combined system.

"We look forward to working together with the University to better understand the details of their vision and determining fair market value for the assets they may seek. We also hope to learn more about their financial and operating plans in addition to the care partnerships necessary to support the University's teaching and academic missions. Our ultimate priority is supporting our staff and ensuring continuity of care for the patients we serve.

"We look forward to completing this merger and working with the University post-close. We are ready and willing to meet with President Gabel, Regent Powell, and other University leaders who are interested in working together to advance care for Minnesotans. We remain excited about what a combined Fairview/Sanford health system will bring to the Minnesotans we are proud to serve."

- Joint statement from Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services

"We need to be bold, we need to be ambitious and we need to be intentional on behalf of the state of Minnesota," said Tolar.

Tolar explained how hospitals offer better care when they're directly connected to medical schools and research centers.

"[We can] provide the best therapies today, the highest qualities, and the new ones for tomorrow, and you have to do it at the same time," said Tolar.

The U of M says they will also rely on state and community investments to upgrade the current university medical buildings and the new hospital they plan on building.

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