An advisory study examining how to ensure the future of the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSUCOM) residency program in Tulsa has been concluded and negotiators are optimistic about the proposal. That’s according to State Sen. Mike Mazzei, a member and lead negotiator with the joint legislative task force charged with finding a long term solution.
The task force is co-chaired by Sen. Tom Adelson and Rep. Chris Benge. There have been concerns that some programs, including obstetrics, could be transferred out of Tulsa Regional Medical Center (TRMC), which officials say would be devastating to OSUCOM.
“I am very pleased to announce the conclusion of the advisory work done by Merrill Lynch. The health care industry experts, led by Managing Director Maureen Spivack, have thoroughly reviewed the operations of the school in connection with TRMC,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “The bottom line is we can ensure the future of this excellent program and provide OSUCOM with operational control.”
Mazzei said after additional analysis of the Tulsa area health care provider market and TRMC, the study weighed several options considered by the task force to stabilize the long term teaching program of OSUCOM. The final report recommends that OSUCOM and TRMC enter into an Academic Affiliation Agreement (AAA).
The AAA would be a 50 year contractual arrangement to achieve governing control and stability of the residency program. Appropriated funds would be earmarked for direct support of the OSUCOM residency program.
“I heartily agree with this recommendation. This creative solution not only allows OSUCOM to maintain its teaching hospital with its preferred, nationally recognized pyramid model, but it does so in a public/private relationship which involves low risk to the state with significantly lower costs than other considered options,” Mazzei said.
Dr. Jim Hess is the Vice President for Health Care Administration and Chief Operating Officer for OSUCOM. He described the proposal as a win-win for everyone involved.
“The long term stability of the OSU medical school as well as the viability of Oklahoma’s rural health care are well served by the recommendation,” Hess said. “It is absolutely certain that we could not have come this far without the leadership of Sen. Mazzei, Sen. Adelson, Rep. Benge and all the legislative task force members. The state owes them a debt of gratitude.”
Mazzei said that throughout the analysis and evaluation work, discussions with Ardent have been very productive.
“I believe they’ve proven their commitment to graduate medical education. Ardent Managing Director George Garrett and CEO David Vandewater have been very constructive partners in dialogues regarding a final AAA,” Mazzei said. “I am extremely optimistic that negotiations will lead to a final agreement this session.”
Both chairmen of the task force have worked long and hard on the commission for nearly a year and are very pleased with the resulting proposal which they said would enable OSUCOM to continue to train Oklahoma students to be doctors who then practice medicine in nearly every county of the state.
“I am excited to bring long term stability to the students and residents of OSUCOM,” said Adelson, D-Tulsa. In addition, under this proposal we are going to enhance access to healthcare for all of northeast Oklahoma.”
“This is a great example of legislators taking the right amount of time to study an issue in depth and then with expert input bring forward a strong recommendation that solves a problem in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Benge, R-Tulsa.
Merrill Lynch Report