The University of Toledo, after consultations with the Board of Trustees, announced Thursday, July 16, that it is postponing the Request for Proposals (RFP) process indefinitely, and will focus our immediate efforts on stabilizing the University of Toledo Medical Center’s (UTMC) fiscal challenges. The RFP was one aspect of the University’s ongoing research to explore all possible options for the future of the hospital.
University officials and hospital leadership have been working tirelessly to address the sustainability of the medical center, including amending UTMC’s medical bylaws, enhancing partnerships with the Toledo Clinic and working on a number of business efficiency and cost reduction strategies.
“There has been much public discussion about the fiscal challenges facing our hospital. This is indeed a challenge we must address, and we will continue to do so,” UToledo Interim President Gregory Postel said. “We recognize the important role of the hospital in our community and are doing our due diligence to address the impact of the hospital’s current financial condition on the University enterprise, while thoughtfully determining the best long-term solution.”
Hospital leadership has made progress in its short-term stabilization efforts which provide an opportunity to focus immediate efforts on caring for the community during the midst of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the Board of Trustees vote to amend the hospital’s medical bylaws in March by removing the faculty-appointment restriction for practicing physicians, there are now 16 Toledo Clinic physicians credentialed at UTMC. Hospital leaders have been working collaboratively with the Toledo Clinic to explore partnership opportunities in key practice areas, including hematology, oncology, cardiology and infusion services.
“Our hospital serves a critical role in our community as evidenced by the leadership role we’ve played during this pandemic,” UTMC CEO Rick Swaine said. “We were the first location in northwest Ohio capable of testing samples for COVID-19, and continue to be the central testing site for our region.”
“We appreciate the ongoing support of our elected officials and our community. UTMC is your community hospital and we are honored to care for you. As we look to grow our way out of these fiscal challenges, we need your continued support for our services and those of our highly trained physicians.”
As part of the hospital’s ongoing business strategy assessment, UTMC continues to grow its primary care marketshare and anticipates adding two family medicine physicians within the next quarter. UTMC has also recently hired two critical care specialists, an electrophysiologist and a new transplant surgeon. In addition, UTMC is the only hospital in the Toledo metro area that offers kidney transplants, and has been performing these since 1972.
UTMC’s increased focus on safety in recent years has had a dramatic impact improving the care received and overall experience of patients in the hospital. Since 2017, overall infections and infection rates have decreased by more than half and UTMC improved from 80th in 2017 to 8th in 2019 in the overall safety ranking by Vizient, a national network of healthcare organizations working to improve healthcare performance. In the last year alone, UTMC decreased blood stream infections by 90%, readmissions by 10% and overall mortality by 10%.
Additionally, UTMC’s request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a rural designation change was approved for FY 2021. This redesignation impacts the hospital’s reimbursement rates better aligning them with the actual cost of care in our region, and is expected to provide $5 million in additional reimbursement.
While ProMedica Toledo Hospital remains the area’s academic medical center as defined in the Academic Affiliation Agreement with the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, UTMC continues to serve as a teaching hospital for UToledo learners enrolled in the University’s many health professional programs.
“There are a number of challenges ahead and we can’t lose sight of our primary role as an educational institution; however, we also recognize that our community needs our hospital and we need them to support us by continuing to use our services. We must increase our patient volume to find a sustainable solution,” Postel said. “This will take all of us, working together, to find the best solution.”