TOLEDO, Ohio — The University of Toledo, after consultations with the Board of Trustees, announced July 16 that it is postponing the Request for Proposals (RFP) process indefinitely, and will focus immediate efforts on stabilizing the University of Toledo Medical Center’s fiscal challenges.
The RFP was one aspect of the university’s ongoing research to explore all possible options for the future of the hospital, officials said.
"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.”
Officials said that hospital leaders have made progress in short-term stabilization efforts, allowing them to "provide an opportunity to focus immediate efforts on caring for the community during the midst of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic."
ProMedica was one of 40 interested parties that had responded to the call for proposals to run UTMC. Officials issued a statement Thursday after it was learned that the request for proposals was pulled back:
“ProMedica responded to the public request for proposal (RFP) because we thought we had a unique local solution that would have met the needs of all of the major constituents and preserved UTMC as a publicly-owned hospital by UToledo. Our goal was to step up as a local anchor institution and provide a Toledo-based solution for UTMC, as health systems headquartered elsewhere tend to invest less in our community. We recently learned that UToledo has decided to indefinitely postpone the RFP process to explore another path forward for UTMC. We understand and respect that the university has to make business decisions it believes will work best for its organization. ProMedica will continue to focus on providing extraordinary care at its top-rated facilities and honoring our commitment to the community through a number of much-needed efforts and initiatives.”
RELATED: Ohio lawmakers ask for UTMC audit
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who has previously called on Governor Mike DeWine and the University of Toledo Board to stay the sale of the hospital, released the following statement:
“I am deeply thankful the University of Toledo Board and Interim President Dr. Gregory Postel have answered our call to stay the sale of UTMC – especially considering mounting community concern and the ongoing pandemic,” Kaptur said. “Decisions of this magnitude require careful consideration, transparency, oversight, and input from the community. The sale of northwest Ohio’s only public hospital during a public health emergency in my view would not only be a mistake, but a moral injustice.”
For the past several months, President of Save UTMC and former Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner, has been rallying people and politicians to find a way to prevent the sale of UTMC.
"It means gratitude, I'm going to start with how grateful the UTMC family is, that includes the Northwest Ohio legislative team that has been so active and vocal and congresswoman Marcy Kaptur," Finkbeiner said.
"When you have in your community only one of two hospitals in the state of Ohio, the other one is the Ohio State University Medical Campus where healing, teaching and research are going on, you want to nestle that to your bosom," Finkbeiner added.
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.”
Officials said UTMC anticipates adding two family medicine physicians within the next quarter. UTMC has also recently hired two critical care specialists, an electrophysiologist and a new transparent surgeon. In addition, UTMC is the only hospital in the Toledo metro area that offers kidney transplants, and has been performing these since 1972.
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.
“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.”
According to Adrienne King with UToledo, it was federal funding from the CARES act that recouped their losses from the coronavirus that allowed the university to make this decision.
"You know, we've been very transparent with the community about the financial struggles that the hospital has been having," King said.
The ProMedica Hospital system where current medical students go for training when not in class on the medical campus offered this statement which reads in part: "Our goal was to step up as a local anchor institution and provide a Toledo-based solution for UTMC, as health systems headquartered elsewhere tend to invest less in our community."
The fight to keep UTMC in the long term is not done, however King says the community support they've seen since the announcement of the possible sale and finding more funding will be what it takes to keep the community hospital.
"If the community will continue coming and supporting us and that means coming and using our services, trusting our medical professionals for their personal and family health care, we think we can make a go at this, so we're excited to continue to be Toledo's community hospital," King said.