The Menninger Clinic just can't seem to make up its mind.
After balking again last month on long-anticipated plans to relocate from its birthplace in Topeka, Kan., the world-renowned psychiatric institution continues to struggle with a complicated set of contract negotiations involving several prospective collaborators.
What's more, there's no telling when Menninger, which hoped to announce its new alliance months ago, will complete a deal with its new partner, officials said.
"Negotiations continue; everybody is interested in what the date (for a decision) might be," said Nancy Trowbridge, the clinic's spokeswoman. "We just don't know at this point. (The board) is taking the time that's necessary to keep working on details with multiple candidates."
Last summer, Menninger's planned merger with the Baylor College of Medicine and Methodist Health Care System collapsed when the two Houston institutions were unable to raise an estimated $200 million in endowment funds promised to Menninger as part of the deal. In the last two months, Menninger has twice canceled plans to announce a new partner in the wake of that snafu.
After the Texas deal fell through, Menninger sent solicitation letters to 56 potential partners, all large academic medical centers with substantial interests in research. That number has been pared down to "more than one and less than five" finalists, Trowbridge said.
Menninger's board dropped plans to name its new partner after a regularly scheduled meeting in early July, announcing that it would make its final decision public on Aug. 1. After that announcement also was canceled, Trowbridge said, the board has made no promises on dates for any future press conferences.
Menninger's board has withheld almost all of the details on the current negotiations. The prospective partners, all unnamed, have signed confidentiality agreements with Menninger.
For now, Trowbridge said, Menninger's board is biding its time, making sure it has a firm deal in place. "They want to do what's right for Menninger," she said.