Med Center Merger Discussed With Faculty

By Tim Sullivan Hoya Staff Writer

Professor Anthony Arend of the government department, chair of the Committee on Medical Center Faculty Governance, presented a report for the future of faculty governance at a town hall meeting at Gorman Auditorium last night. The report addresses the coming changes which will result from the university’s recent agreement with MedStar Health Systems to jointly operate the Georgetown University Medical Center.

The 13-part report contains numerous changes to the current structure of the faculty governance, which will change when MedStar takes control of the Med Center in July. Part two of the plan, the General Principles of Governance, which is as yet unapproved, lists the main guiding principles of the changes proposed. The plan affirms the essential role played by both types of medical school faculty, basic science and clinical faculty, attempts to minimize divisions between the groups, aims to increase faculty participation in governance and calls for a “balance between faculty involvement . and efficient administration.”

The report also defines the criteria to be required of faculty members in the new structure. It states that the university, not edStar, must appoint all faculty for them to be considered full-fledged members. The plan also calls for a restructuring of the executive senate of the Med Center as well as the creation of a new faculty council, which will consist entirely of non-chair faculty and serve an advisory role to the hospital administration.

The other main recommendation that the report makes is to continue to support tenure of faculty when MedStar assumes control of the hospital. The report calls tenure an “essential academic right for both clinical and basic science faculty.” It also calls for the establishment of a joint grievance code for MedStar and university employees.

The report calls for a reevaluation of governance policies every six months to account for the uncertainty of the transition period, which Arend said is “not the final word on this but the beginning word.”

Arend said that it is uncertain at this time whether or not all current faculty members will be retained when MedStar officially takes over control of the Med Center.

To research the changes, Arend said, the committee, which is comprised of representatives from all three GU campuses, contacted other teaching hospitals that had made similar transitions in the past. “There are no other institutions which have had to go through this transition in the same way,” Arend said. The committee is one of two created to study the transition for faculty members. The other is chaired by Michael Pentecost of the radiology department.

Following the presentation of the plan, Arend opened the floor to questions from the audience, which consisted entirely of Med Center faculty. Faculty members expressed their concern with many aspects of the plan, but the bulk of concerns were the distinction between university and MedStar employees at the Med Center.

Professor Karen Gale of the pharmacology department noted that under the plan, full-time MedStar employees could possibly control all of the governance committees, including the executive faculty, faculty council and faculty caucus. “Where in this document is there a governance body that represents the full-time faculty who are employees of Georgetown?” said Gale, referring to a part of the plan whereby MedStar employees can be considered full members of the faculty. She said that the meeting was the first time many of the faculty members had heard of that aspect of the plan.

Arend noted in response that all faculty members, despite their employment affiliation, would still need university appointment to be considered full faculty members.

Other concerns included a higher proportional representation for basic science faculty than for clinical faculty, which Arend said was something the committee had to consider.

One audience member expressed concern that Med Center employees will be more focused on profit than on maintaining a top-flight medical school. Arend said that all candidates for clinical chair positions, though they will be selected by MedStar, will be nominated by the university to combat such problems.

The university and MedStar announced last month that they would be entering into a partnership whereby the university would sell a controlling interest in the hospital while retaining control of its teaching and administration aspects. Over the last three years, the ed Center had losses of more than $200 million, which led the university to seek alternatives for its management. In his letter to the Georgetown community yesterday, retiring University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., cited the completion of the edStar deal as one of the reasons he felt comfortable enough to step down.

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