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UT, ProMedica ink 4-week extension on med students

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    Kristen Kunklier, a third-year medical student, says students have become pawns in a UT-ProMedica battle.

    <Jeremy Wadsworth

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UT President Lloyd Jacobs, left, says there s a slim chance a UT-ProMedica contract will be reached by the Sept. 21 deadline; UT trustees Chairman Rick Stansley, right, has been holding discussions on the issues with ProMedica Chairman Frank Duval.

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Eleven University of Toledo medical students can finish rotations they started this month at Toledo Hospital, but whether more batches of third-year students will continue getting instruction there every six weeks remains in doubt.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs told trustees at a special meeting late yesterday that there is just a "slim chance" a contract with Toledo's ProMedica Health System will be reached by Sept. 21, the end of the latest extension.

The contract governs rotations by students in pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology, and the third extension was to expire at midnight yesterday.

If UT doesn't have a contract by Sept. 21 that is free from business conditions requested by ProMedica involving insurance and other issues, Dr. Jacobs said he would recommend officials place students elsewhere while negotiations continue.

"ProMedica is a desirable partner," Dr. Jacobs said yesterday during an about 50-minute meeting among trustees and administrators.

He added in response to a question by Trustee S. Amjad Hussain, who endorsed his view: "I don't believe we should ever completely walk away from these negotiations."

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Kristen Kunklier, a third-year medical student, says students have become pawns in a UT-ProMedica battle.

Jeremy Wadsworth Enlarge

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, dean of UT's college of medicine, the former Medical College of Ohio, signed a four-week contract extension with ProMedica after yesterday's meeting.

While the extension gives UT an opportunity to continue negotiating with ProMedica without disrupting students, reaching a long-term contract is critical, Dr. Gold said.

Initially, UT board Chairman Rick Stansley - who said he has been in discussions with ProMedica Board Chairman Frank Duval - recommended administrators reassign the medical students today to rotations at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo and St. Luke's Hospital in Maumee.

He agreed the students should stay at Toledo Hospital after he learned of the four-week extension, which would allow students to finish their rotations as he requested of ProMedica earlier this month.

Since medical students have become pawns in a battle between ProMedica and UT, either option would be fine with Trustee Kristen Kunklier, a third-year medical student.

"It about makes me not want to fight to stay there," she said during the meeting.

A ProMedica official yesterday said remaining insurance issues involving doctors who teach medical students must be resolved.

Under a plan negotiated last year with ProMedica's Paramount, employees on UT's health science campus receive discounts for care at the campus medical center, which steers patients away from Toledo Hospital and elsewhere.

"ProMedica Health System has offered the University of Toledo multiple options to provide for the continuation of medical student education in our hospitals, including an extension of current medical student rotations," Stephen Mooney, president of ProMedica's Health, Education, and Research Corp., said in a statement yesterday.

He added: "It is our hope that Dr. Jacobs will respond favorably to our proposal, which treats with respect the physicians who volunteer to teach and provides the benefit of medical education for our community."

UT officials, however, maintain all hospital and doctors that work with the medical school should be treated equally, and Dr. Jacobs has offered to eliminate that option to employees.

Mr. Stansley said he asked for a contract extension with ProMedica until the state's Commission on the Future of Health Care Education and Physical Retention in Northwest Ohio finishes its report in April.

The commission is looking at what Ohio can do to retain medical school graduates, using northwest Ohio as an example.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.

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