Published on Nov 23, 2006

DMC, WSU deal hailed as lifesaver
Doctor training kept largely intact



November 23, 2006

The DMC deal with WSU was welcome news for Paul Bozyk, left, president of the residents’ council, and Vice Presidents Benjamin Atkinson and Stephanie Czarnik on Wednesday at Detroit Receiving Hospital. (MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press)

The deal’s details

Wednesday’s agreement between the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Detroit Medical Center calls for:


• The DMC to pay WSU $76 million a year for clinical, teaching and administrative services under a 3 1/2 -year contract.


• WSU’s 68 graduate medical residency programs to be continued, either as programs jointly run by the DMC and WSU, by each alone or with new partners, as WSU is seeking with Dearborn’s Oakwood health system. Key residencies in areas such as surgery and internal medicine will be run jointly by the DMC and WSU.


• Payment of up to $8.8 million in performance bonuses and recruitment support by the DMC to WSU for clinical quality improvements, including initiatives to reduce surgical infections and shorten hospital stays.


• The DMC and WSU to focus on their partnership and for 18 months not to “pursue new competitive activities that would disrupt the partnership.”


• WSU physicians to be allowed to partner with Oakwood to open a new outpatient surgery center and physician offices in Troy.


Patricia Anstett and Kortney Stringer


Detroit’s oldest health partners, the Detroit Medical Center and the Wayne State University School of Medicine, have a new 3 1/2 -year agreement that saves 850 graduate medical education jobs and ensures care of the city’s low-income people by WSU faculty and medical residents.

A months-long deadlock between the DMC and Wayne State, its academic partner, had jeopardized crucial training programs and threatened to diminish health care resources throughout Michigan, which faces a 12% shortage of doctors within the next 15 years, said Wayne State President Irvin Reid. WSU trains nearly a third of the state’s doctors and 43% of those who work in metro Detroit.

In negotiations brokered by Gov. Jennifer Granholm since the day after her re-election Nov. 7, with help from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and pressure from business and medical leaders, the two groups came to agreement at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“On the day before Thanksgiving we give thanks that the health care in this region is protected,” Granholm said at a news media briefing in Detroit. She credited mediator David Fink, her former cabinet aide, for getting two hopelessly deadlocked parties to settle their differences. “For all concerned, we knew it was not acceptable to not have an agreement,” she said.

Fink said the agreement, which takes effect Jan. 1, should strengthen the relationship between the DMC and WSU.

The new contract, which calls for the DMC to pay WSU $76 million per year, ensures that the two will continue to cooperatively run most of the 68 residency programs they now provide. It also bans both from developing “new competitive activities” with other partners for the next 18 months. And it sets the partnership’s first benchmarks, which could bring $8.8 million in bonuses to WSU if it does things such as shorten hospital stays and reduce infection rates.

Both the DMC and WSU say they hope the agreement is sufficient to keep all current medical residency programs in Detroit. Fink said the final decision would be made by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which oversees graduate medical programs.

Fink said the national accreditation council told him “that if we could provide them by Monday evening a commitment for the future,” the council would have the information it needed to decide on the fate of the programs.

Julie Jacob, a spokeswoman for the council, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

The agreement didn’t come without casualties and the possible marring of Detroit’s reputation as a magnet for top medical students. Aaron Plattner, a fourth-year undergraduate medical student at WSU, said despite the new contract, he is not convinced of the long-term stability of the residency programs.

“The fact is, when you go to other med schools, you see stability and growth and you don’t see the issues we’ve seen here in the last few years” between the DMC and WSU, said Plattner, 25, a Dearborn resident who is applying to medical residencies in psychiatry.

There were acknowledgements, but no details, that the DMC and WSU failed to get some provisions they hoped to include in the agreement.

“DMC didn’t get everything it wanted in this, but we got what’s most important to us, and I think it’s going to work out,” said Mike Duggan, DMC chief executive officer.

One of the setbacks was the loss of WSU’s prestigious orthopedics residency program, one of the biggest in the nation, with 40 students. Most had to take jobs in other cities at great personal expense when the DMC refused to continue the program with WSU last April. Both the DMC and WSU say they hope to get new orthopedics residency programs in the future.

Robert Mentzer Jr., the WSU medical school dean, said the school would work hard to get out the word that the residency programs are secure.

“The perfect agreement would have come last spring and it would have salvaged” the orthopedics residency, said Dr. Paul Bozyk, president of the residents’ council. “That was a clear tragedy along the way.”

Bozyk said some of the residencies that will be operated separately from the DMC-WSU partnership include dermatology, family practice and urology.

Those and other issues bother some of the residents, including Dr. Gurtej Singh, a second-year medical resident studying physical medicine and rehabilitation. He said he is happy there is a new contract, but he remains concerned until the accreditation group makes its decision.

“A couple of days ago, I was starting to look for other programs, to look around the country for other openings and unfortunately having just moved here, learning all the streets, trying to figure out how to relocate and continue my residency,” said Singh, 27, who lives in Detroit.

“I was scared and apprehensive. Now, I’m clearly relieved.”

Contact PATRICIA ANSTETT at 313-222-5021 or

Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.