UCSF STANFORD HEALTH CARE: Plans to Dissolve Merger Underway
While the dissolution of UCSF Stanford Health Care may look "simple on paper," the San Francisco Chronicle reports that dividing up the $1.5 billion venture will prove much more complex. It took nearly three years and $79 million to complete the merger, and negotiations to untangle the two entities could get contentious as responsibility and blame for financial losses are discussed. Although a final date has not been set, March 1, 2000, was tentatively chosen as the date both facilities could resume separate operations. Both sides have agreed to work together. Once a final date for dissolution is determined, net assets will be audited and each institution will regain control over its property and facilities. UC's Vice President for Clinical Services and lead negotiator William Gurtner said, "It isn't that we just shake hands tomorrow and go our separate ways. We are going thorough very small details." Mariann Byerwalter, Stanford's vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer, said, "Because we had to develop a plan to merge the entities, we can, essentially, in an orderly way, reverse the flow. We are doing it in a cooperative way, in the best interest of UCSF, Stanford, UCSF Stanford Health Care and its employees." Officials fear that the negotiations could be difficult when the $86 million in financial losses in the fiscal year that ended on August 31 are discussed. Nearly $60 million of those losses are blamed on UC San Francisco's Mount Zion Medical Center, which serves many of the city's indigent and minority patients. Gurtner said, "It is too early to say what are going to be sticky issues. Money is always an issue." The dissolution will proceed after the UC regents hold a perfunctory vote on Thursday (Schevitz, 11/16).
After the dissolution was announced, many people restated their plea to officials to keep Mt. Zion's inpatient services and emergency department open. However, in his Chronicle op-ed, UCSF Chancellor Dr. J. Michael Bishop noted that since the financial situation of the hospital had not changed, it was "difficult to see the reasoning behind this plea." He maintained that transferring inpatient services to UCSF Medical Center on Parnasus Avenue would best help the 113-year-old institution recover financially. He added that the facility's reconfiguration "does not jeopardize the standing to our cancer center with the National Cancer Institute" and will maintain the quality of outpatient services offered. Although some have renewed the effort to obtain "bridge funding" to keep the inpatient services in operation, Bishop indicates that "this is not a viable option" as it would be a short-term solution to a problem that needs long-term resolution. Applauding the "remarkable resilience and dedication of the UCSF and Mount Zion faculty and staff," Bishop concludes that the "changes now being made at Mount Zion are designed to keep the facility a place of medical service and discovery. The proud tradition and spirit of Mount Zion will be sustained" (11/15).