Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Dunlap: Joint Operating Agreement Saves Campus of Oklahoma Health Center

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Dunlap: Joint Operating Agreement Saves Campus of Oklahoma Health Center

Article excerpt

In recent articles concerning the impending University Hospitals/ Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), Columbia's commitment to medical education and our ability to manage hospitals effectively has been cited. However, there is still much speculation about the JOA, Columbia and our future, and this speculation deserves to be clarified.

First, let me say that the Columbia Oklahoma Division is very honored and proud to be involved in the pending JOA. This agreement signals a new day for the health of Oklahomans. Not only does Columbia have the opportunity to bring its management and financial resources to the table which helps to ensure the long-term viability of the University Hospitals, we also bring a proven history of quality, efficient, compassionate health care to the merger -- which will further enhance the quality which already exists there.

U.S. News and World Report issued a 1995 report of medical facilities which listed University and Children's Hospitals among the top 40 nationwide in five medical specialties. They outscored all other Oklahoma hospitals in 12 other categories. It is crucial that this level of quality health care remain open in our state. We are looking forward to this new opportunity. The preservation of these hospitals not only means we maintain quality health care for all Oklahomans, without regard to their ability to pay. It also means the state will continue to have a top-level medical academic program, training the country's leading physicians and medical professionals. In previous articles written by others, certain "new paradigms" or "alternatives" for The University Hospitals have been proposed other than the current JOA with Columbia. One of these alternatives was to financially secure the future of Children's Hospital and cease operations at the adult hospital -- eliminating ALL the jobs at that hospital in the process. It was further suggested that the other local hospitals could assist the state in its clinical, charity and teaching requirements, which is hardly an efficient, patient- oriented method. It is through the comprehensive nature of having the medical teaching program on one, full-service campus, that the OU School of Medicine is one of the premiere institutions in the country. In fact, through this new paradigm, there is one major point that some have failed to take into consideration: the preservation of the Oklahoma Health Center campus. This campus (on which The University Hospitals, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and 16 other top-rated medical research and nonprofit health organizations reside), provides an approximate $3 billion economic impact to the state of Oklahoma each year. Oklahoma cannot afford to lose this asset, and the proposed "new paradigm" would have meant closing one or both University and Children's Hospitals. …

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