Henry Ford Health, MSU partner on health care access, diversity, cancer care

DETROIT—Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University have announced a 30-year partnership to make Michigan a national leader in providing access to exceptional health care for all residents, scientific discovery and education for providers, patients and families.

In a landmark partnership that will last for at least 30 years, both institutions are committed to aligning efforts across key departments and programs to achieve critical health care and educational goals, while addressing social issues that impact health outcomes for patients in Michigan and beyond.

The signing of this agreement comes seven months after Henry Ford and MSU signed a letter of intent to significantly expand their long-term partnership, among the first of its kind for the region between a fully integrated academic health system and major state university.

Key features of the agreement include fostering innovative, groundbreaking research; providing best-in-class cancer care; interprofessional training; increasing diversity among the next generation of health care professionals; and addressing the needs of traditionally underserved communities. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are core components of the partnership and are embedded throughout the agreement in a commitment to addressing access to health care and health disparities in both urban and rural communities.  For more information about the partnership, visit www.henryford.com/msuhealthsciences.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University recognized that collaboration could make a critical impact on health care in our state and across the country,” said Wright L. Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. “Our two institutions have a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, which means addressing and eliminating historic inequities in health care across our state. If we bring additional focus to traditionally marginalized communities, we believe that will lead to improved clinical outcomes for all.”

Added Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of MSU: “We believe there is an opportunity to create progressive education models rooted in early collaboration across disciplines, such as primary care, nursing and public health, that will prepare students for the integrated care models demanded in practice today and in the future. These new approaches will support academic and clinical partnerships and will serve as a model for academic training and research across the nation. Moreover, this collaboration vastly expands opportunities for students beyond those seeking careers in health professions. Specifically, MSU attracts top students pursuing degrees in business, agriculture, social sciences, humanities, physics, computer sciences and beyond, committed to improving the human condition. Moving the dial on society’s most intractable health challenges requires the broadest of expertise, the education of whom is the purpose for a land grant institution like MSU. The scale of Henry Ford Health System provides innumerable venues for collaboration and innovation.”

MSU will expand its presence in Detroit through the development of a regional campus, located within the existing Henry Ford Detroit Campus footprint. The institutions will create a new Health Sciences Center (HSC) that aligns basic and translational research, fueling innovation and discovery through an academically and clinically integrated network of health care providers, scientists, academicians and public health practitioners.

A new urban-based public health program is planned to focus on education and research, as well as provide a platform to collaborate with other institutions. With the planned expansion of their combined research enterprise, Henry Ford and MSU are developing a joint research institute, the Health Sciences Center, dedicated to research and academic activities.

“Our research programs will seek to engage underrepresented communities in meaningful ways to identify potential interventions and reduce or eliminate health care disparities,” said Steven Kalkanis, M.D., chief executive officer and senior vice president and chief academic officer of Henry Ford Health System.

Alignment between a top academic institution and a leading integrated health system will accelerate the recruitment and retention of top clinical and academic talent, which is essential for advancing research, providing superior patient care and educating the next generation of premier health care professionals.

With the MSU partnership, the Henry Ford Cancer Institute will expand research and clinical applications to create an international destination for access to the most advanced cancer therapies and research. With its focus on innovative cancer treatments, prevention and screening protocols, the institute will offer vast improvements in population health, fuel discovery in basic sciences, support translational research aimed at curing cancer and close the gap in health care outcomes for cancer patients based on race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status.

“Our goal is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation within five to seven years, making us one of three institutions in Michigan recognized by the federal government for cutting-edge research and innovative cancer treatments,” said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System. “We are coordinating our clinical activities so that we can expand our scope of services and access to care while improving the quality and efficiency of the patient experience across specialties and geography.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational to Henry Ford and MSU’s partnership and are articulated in key goals and deliverables that seek to eliminate health disparities, address the social determinants of health, and remove barriers to care and opportunity for medical education. This includes a commitment to educate diverse health care providers and ensure equitable access to quality health care for historically disenfranchised and marginalized populations.

This partnership is not an acquisition or merger. The Henry Ford and MSU names will not change, and both organizations will maintain their respective autonomies. The goal is to combine the strength of both institutions’ legacies and storied brands toward their shared goals. By mid-2021, there will be co-branding within some areas, including joint research efforts, and the Center will establish an umbrella entity for its activities and a joint identity. Several of the partnership’s advancements will result from the integration of both institutions around key research and program elements, while others, such as capital projects, are dependent upon securing private and philanthropic funding.

Kalkanis will be the inaugural president of the Health Sciences Center. Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., executive vice president of health sciences for MSU, will chair the board selected from leaders of both institutions. Each institution will maintain the vital partnerships developed with other organizations, including health care systems and academic institutions, strengthening the effort further.


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