January 15, 1999

VUMC, Meharry form alliance

VUMC, Meharry form alliance

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VUMC's Dr. Harry Jacobson (left), Mayor Phil Bredesen and Meharry's Dr. John Maupin discuss the alliance. (Photo by Donna Jones Bailey)

Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center this week announced the establishment of a formal alliance to "enhance the educational, scientific, and clinical programs at and between both institutions."

Through a signed "Memorandum of Understanding," Meharry and Vanderbilt established a working relationship that will bring together the two institutions in collaborative efforts for undergraduate and graduate medical education; the conduct of research and training; the utilization of shared research, teaching, patient care and library facilities; and enhanced interaction of students and faculty at both schools.

The alliance agreement is a commitment to a cooperative relationship based on a mutual respect for each institutions respective differences and strengths. The language of the agreement specifically ensures that both entities will remain independent with their unique missions intact. Furthermore, the agreement will help both institutions achieve a higher degree of excellence in their total programs through the complementary management and utilization of programs and resources.

The two institutions will seek to develop innovative approaches to medical education, address the challenges of the new health care delivery environment, capitalize on existing positive relations between each institution, enhance diversity at each institution, and produce positive effects on the Nashville community.

"This alliance joins two distinguished academic health centers in a strategic, synergistic partnership that will surely set the standard for cooperative efforts by other institutions nationwide," said Dr. John E. Maupin Jr., president of Meharry Medical College. "We began all this through open and frank discussions about our historical differences, our unique challenges and our recent successes.

"We found that we had a lot of common interests, and that we were inhibited only by the limits of our vision and our investment in old, outmoded rules of order. We decided we could work together, and in the process strengthen our education, research and health care delivery. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, this alliance just makes sense."

"Vanderbilt has a commitment to the indigent and under-served in this community and we are already the area's leading charity and TennCare provider," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "This alliance will help us extend that commitment, which we think is a very good thing for the Nashville community.

"Our two institutions have every reason to share resources and explore opportunities for collaboration at all levels of academic, research and health service activities," Jacobson added. "Vanderbilt also needs to improve its diversity in its faculty, house staff and students. We have a commitment to do that, and this alliance will help us in that goal."

The alliance will benefit the city of Nashville as well, said Mayor Phil Bredesen.

"It's a good arrangement from the city's point of view," he said. "It's a great thing for the community."

"Not only are we going to be able to expand and enhance undergraduate and graduate medical education," said Dr. A. Cherrie Epps, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the Meharry School of Medicine, "We will enhance the capabilities of both of our institutions with increased leverage to secure funding for research and educational activities. Meharry and Vanderbilt are totally committed to making this historic alliance succeed."

"All of us are pleased at the prospect of enjoying the range of benefits that will accrue to us as a result of this alliance," said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "We have found that the strengths of our two institutions are very complementary, and we fully expect this alliance to grow and expand to provide a more secure quality future for Meharry and Vanderbilt."

Officials at both institutions noted that Meharry's strengths are in family medicine and primary care, and that Vanderbilt's strengths are in specialty and subspecialty care, making a complementary match.

One of the goals of the alliance is to promote cooperative agreements with other organizations, agencies and institutions in the health field, both public and private, for the purpose of providing, maintaining and coordinating health services. Consistent with that goal, Vanderbilt has agreed to assume leadership management of Metropolitan General Hospital, while Meharry continues to maintain its leadership over the clinical and educational programs at the hospital.

This new relationship is seen as a progressive move to not only have the hospital continue as an excellent public hospital, but also ensure it is an outstanding community hospital.

The alliance will also facilitate the partnership of both Meharry and Vanderbilt with local Veterans Administration hospitals in Nashville and Murfreesboro, as a reorganization of those facilities and others in the region are being considered.

John Dandridge Jr., director of the Veterans Administration Mid-South Healthcare Network, said, "We are excited and pleased to work with both Meharry and Vanderbilt in their newly formed alliance. The challenges of today's health care environment require us to work together in order to maintain the quality of care offered to our veterans and preserve the excellent educational experiences available to both schools at our facilities."

The agreement outlines other specific goals that also include:

o collaborative clinical science program arrangements;

o shared information technology and library capabilities;

o increased collaborative research and research training projects;

o making available educational and training programs to students from both institutions;

o sharing teaching and research facilities;

o creating joint continuing education programs;

o and greater interaction of faculty and students to enhance opportunities for increased diversity at both institutions.

An Alliance Steering Committee has been created to provide implementation and oversight of the agreement. Maupin and Jacobson will co-chair the committee, which will have an equal number of representatives from each institution, including the deans of both institutions' medical schools.

The major areas of focus for the alliance will be clinical sciences, academic support infrastructure, biomedical research collaboration, health services and a Meharry-Vanderbilt Institute for Primary Care Medicine.

Meharry Medical College is a private, historically black academic health center. Since its founding in 1876, it has been a leading producer of African-American physicians and dentists, and today is one of the nation's leading producers of African-American Ph.D.s in biomedical sciences. The College is particularly known for its emphasis on the special primary health care needs of minorities, the poor and the disadvantaged.