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MSU, Sparrow formalize partnership

February 23, 2009


Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital formally became MSU’s primary medical partner Monday, a move hospital and university officials say will improve area health care, research opportunities and recruitment.

MSU and Sparrow have worked together for several decades, but the two institutions were never joined by a written partnership. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Sparrow’s president and CEO Dennis Swan signed off on an agreement.

The agreement includes formation of a joint committee of MSU and Sparrow representatives that will develop goals for the partnership and oversee their execution. The committee will have equal representation from MSU and Sparrow.

“Its power is in its framework and its power is in the commitment to work together not just when a project comes up, but every day together,” Simon said. “This forces people to sit down on a regular basis and have the conversations necessary to maximize quality and the array of health care in the community.”

MSU’s three health colleges — the College of Human Medicine, College of Nursing and College of Osteopathic Medicine — have worked with Sparrow Hospital under about 75 individual contracts and other side agreements. A review board comprised of representatives from both organizations is expected to streamline the contract process for potential research projects.

College of Nursing Dean Mary Mundt said specific research projects will be identified once the review board is formed.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a series of initiatives, four or five things that we’re doing with Sparrow that we can say to students, ‘You can be part of this more hospital-based research or be a part of more innovative teaching centers,’” Mundt said.

“It will be our faculty coming together with their people to really put a priority and focus on (research projects).”

University and hospital officials also said they expect the new research opportunities and developing new fundraising opportunities will help to recruit students to MSU and keep “top-tier” graduates in the area.

The agreement, which has been more than a year in the making, comes as MSU continues to expand its medical colleges. The College of Human Medicine’s $90 million Grand Rapids campus is expected to be completed by June 2010.

“When you enter into a new relationship in a new market such as Grand Rapids … there are things you need to be clear with people about, such as roles and responsibilities,” Swan said.

“You should never take for granted simply because we have been good neighbors for so long that we understand what those covenants and commitments are.

“At the same time, I want to be clear, we support what MSU is trying to do to expand their medical school.”

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