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University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center receives gift of $50 million


ANN ARBOR, MI – On June 11, the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center’s new building opened its doors to patients. Today, the U-M Health System announces that it has received an extraordinary gift of $50 million to recognize – and encourage – the Center’s innovative model of caring for people with cardiovascular disease.

That model, never before attempted by a health care institution, emphasizes and rewards cooperation, excellence and results in all areas of the Center’s operations: clinical care, research and education.

The donor believes that the center’s model can succeed and provide a pattern not only for other heart centers, but for all types of health care facilities.

While the gift provides for immediate support for the center’s programs, the donor and the CVC have established benchmarks for success related to customer satisfaction; collaboration among our scientists and physicians; clinical outcomes; research contributions; and excellence in education. The first $25 million will be given over 10 years, beginning this month. The center will receive the remaining $25 million when it meets goals agreed upon by the donor and the center’s leaders.

“We’re thrilled to receive this landmark gift, which not only recognizes the efforts our Cardiovascular Center team has already made to break down the barriers that can divide health specialties, but gives us strong incentive to continue those efforts,” says Robert P. Kelch, M.D., U-M executive vice president for Medical Affairs and CEO of UMHS.

On behalf of the center’s four physician directors and administrative director, CVC director and cardiologist Kim Eagle, M.D., calls the gift an investment in the future of health care. “Too often, medical professionals work in the ‘silo’ of their own specialty, partly because of tradition and partly due to financial incentives that encourage an ‘everyone-for-themselves’ mentality. We’re working to change that, and to prove that there’s a better way,” he says.

The CVC brings together all of the U-M Health System’s specialists in preventing, treating and studying heart disease, blood vessel disorders and stroke – from cardiac surgeons and intensive-care nurses to laboratory scientists, cardiologists and heart-imaging specialists.

On June 11, the first patients were treated at the Center’s new home, a 350,000-square-foot inpatient and outpatient facility at the heart of the U-M medical campus.

While the new building provides a home for much of the Center’s adult care, many adult CVC patients will receive their care in other convenient locations such as Domino’s Farms, Briarwood and other facilities. CVC care also will continue to be offered at University Hospital, and children with congenital heart disease will still receive treatment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

No matter where they are treated, patients will be cared for by teams that include members of different medical and surgical specialties — all working together to determine the best course of diagnostic testing, medication, procedures, operations and preventive strategies for each patient.

This represents a change of culture for medicine, the CVC directors say, because it emphasizes teamwork in a new way. Rather than having individual physicians compete to care for specific patients, it rewards teams financially for their performance as a whole.

This gift does the same thing on a broader scale, because it provides specific benchmarks for the Center and allows the donor to review the Center’s performance before releasing the final $25 million.

Specifically, the donor will look at the Center’s performance on clinical measures, to see that U-M is leading the nation in delivering effective care that helps patients have the best outcomes. Another key measure is the Center’s scores on satisfaction surveys – including surveys of its patients, the physicians who refer patients to the Center, and its own faculty and staff.

Other measures include the number of faculty who have academic appointments in more than one division; the amount of research grants won and the number of research publications and patents; and the quality of both the young physicians being trained in cardiovascular specialties at U-M and the educators who teach them.

One other condition set by the donor is that the Center must continue to be led by a team: physician leaders who work together to steer its operations. There are four directors — Eagle; cardiologist David Pinsky, M.D.; cardiac surgeon Richard Prager, M.D.; and vascular surgeon James Stanley, M.D. — who will determine the specific way in which the gift dollars will be used. Melvin Lester, M.D., special assistant to Dr. Kelch and a specialist in cardiovascular medicine, acts as an advisor to the UMHS leadership and CVC directors on major gifts and program planning.

The $50 million gift joins another major gift that has had a huge impact on the Health System’s care and research: a $44 million gift for diabetes research and facilities given in 2004 by William and Delores Brehm. Together, they are the leading gifts to UMHS, and are part of tens of millions of dollars raised by UMHS as part of the University’s $2.5 billion Michigan Difference campaign.


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