Detroit Medical Center is working on a "Plan B" in case it cannot get Wayne State University Physician Group back to the contract bargaining table.
Trouble is, Wayne State officials also say they are working on a backup plan if its clinical services and medical director contracts can't be resolved with DMC by Sept. 30 when the current contract expires.
Earlier this week, contract negotiations broke down between the two academic health partners over the issue of whether DMC can continue to recruit physicians employed by Wayne State University Physician Group. Wayne State wants a "nonsolicitation of physicians" clause in its contracts with DMC to protect its business interests. DMC officials have refused, saying they cannot agree to that for various business and regulatory reasons.
There is a nonsolicitation clause in the current contract, but the proposed agreement for the new contract is more specific and DMC objects to those terms.
The DMC-Wayne State teaching relationship is significant because the medical center is one of Detroit's largest safety net hospitals with more than 3,000 physicians on its medical staff. DMC is owned by for-profit Tenet Healthcare Corp., a Dallas-based investor-owned chain of hospitals.
"Our first concern is always we provide access and quality care for patients. It is what we do and most concerned with," said Roger Wiseman, DMC's senior vice president of population health and president of the Michigan Pioneer ACO. "We are preparing, like in any large contract if expiring, to have a Plan B in place."
Wiseman said DMC's backup plan involves hiring other physicians and medical groups to replace UPG doctors. "We want to reach agreement with doctors at UPG, but we have to protect patients," he said.
On whether DMC would actively recruit UPG physicians to continue their service at DMC, albeit under DMC employment rather than UPG, Wiseman declined comment.
Wayne State's Plan B is to explore talks with other hospitals in Southeast Michigan, said Jack Sobel, M.D., chair of UPG and dean of the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
One hospital system that has come up in the past as a potential expanded partner is Henry Ford Health System, which is also located nearby in Detroit. Wayne State already trains medical students at Henry Ford Hospital.
Henry Ford officials did not want to comment on the ongoing discussions between DMC and Wayne State. "We value our relationship with Wayne State," said Brenda Craig, Henry Ford's director of media relations.