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Jan. 13, 2023

The University of Minnesota and its medical school announced a vision Thursday to acquire the Twin Cities facilities currently owned by Fairview Health Services.

The news comes as Fairview and Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health pursue a merger.

The university’s plan is part of a broader vision for a campus that would include a new hospital. The vision, called MPact Health Care Innovation, would require state funding.

Rendering by Cannon Design

“We know health care is changing rapidly along with the needs and expectations of patients at home and around the globe,” U of M President Joan Gabel said in a statement. “With great inspiration from Minnesota and with insights from university researchers, faculty, physicians and health care professionals, the MPact Health Care Innovation vision is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to channel our unique ability to elevate our state, improve the lives of all Minnesotans and position Minnesota as a global leader for the next century.”

The vision “is rooted in the university’s autonomy in controlling the existing health care facilities on its Twin Cities campus — the University Medical Center East and West Bank facilities, the Masonic Children’s Hospital and the clinics and surgery center — and the eventual development of a new state-of-the-art medical center on the east bank of the Twin Cities campus,” the university said.

The vision aligns with the university’s systemwide strategic plan, MPact 2025, which outlines the institution’s commitment to develop and embrace new and leading health care delivery models and cutting-edge discoveries and technologies based on health science research, it said.

“We have a great research university, a great medical school and a great education program. It just makes sense that we have great hospital facilities in which we can combine all three in the same place,” said Dr. Jakub Tolar, dean of the U of M Medical School and vice president for clinical affairs. “Seven of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. are directly associated with a medical school because that’s how you improve care quickly. You streamline the process of bringing groundbreaking therapies to patients. You improve the practice of medicine by changing it in real time. We want these benefits for Minnesota and to serve Minnesotans in ways that only a hospital associated with a leading research university can.”

In its announcement, university leaders called on elected leaders in Minnesota to help “fund the shifting of health facilities to university ownership, upgrading the facilities and joining in the planning for a new, world-class medical center on the east bank of the Twin Cities campus — critical to advancing the long-term health of Minnesotans.”

In a hearing held Wednesday by the Minnesota attorney general about the Fairview-Sanford merger, Sanford CEO Bill Gassen said it would be an option for the university to repurchase the medical center following the potential merger.

At the hearing, Tolar called on Minnesota’s attorney general not to endorse the merger “until Fairview and Sanford work with the university to address and resolve how we will continue to use all of our public resources in service to Minnesota and in particular how we will advance the university’s vision for how we can best serve the state.”

First Minnesota hearing on Sanford-Fairview merger draws strong response

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