The University of Chicago Medicine and Franciscan Alliance have announced a regional partnership that will boost access to primary and specialty care and clinical research.
The affiliation, effective immediately, will put the academic medical center in cooperation with Franciscan's hospitals in Northwest Indiana, including Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospitals in Hammond and Dyer and Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospitals in Crown Point and Michigan City.
The partnership affects all Franciscan locations in the northern Indiana region, including hospitals, outpatient facilities, clinics and Franciscan Physician Network, said Gene Diamond, Franciscan Alliance Northern Indiana Region CEO.
"Our relationship with University of Chicago will be noticed in the context of programs that we will develop collaboratively," he said. "We anticipate University of Chicago faculty and specialty physicians to be involved in programs and leadership roles associated with those programs."
Doctors from the university hospital will be working on site in Northwest Indiana, Diamond confirmed.
"We have been having discussions with various parties in and around Northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago area for many years, academic medical center discussions being prominent among them," Diamond said. "The University of Chicago figured in them. We are glad to have reached a mutually satisfactory accord."
A news release stated the affiliation provides for the joint development and implementation of clinical, research and educational initiatives.
"We'll be working jointly, for example, to collaborate in oncology services and other clinical service lines," Diamond said.
Hospital executives in Northwest Indiana often point out that people travel to Chicago for what they perceive as better care, rather than seeking treatment more locally. Diamond weighed in on the role of the new partnership in that context.
"We have long believed patients can get university-quality health care in Northwest Indiana with Franciscan Alliance," Diamond said. "We’re underscoring that belief with this agreement."
He would not comment on specific terms of the agreement. It is considered a master affiliation agreement, one to which more specific agreements may be appended, Diamond said.
"It outlines the nature of our relationship and implies more specific relationships will be developed mutually by both parties, over time," he said.
The institutions emphasized synergies would be created through the partnership.
"We believe combining the synergies and resources of the Franciscan Alliance Northern Indiana Region with those of the University of Chicago can, and probably will, result in better models for care delivery that will improve quality and allow us to jointly develop care protocols, among other advances," Diamond said.
Dr. Kenneth Polonsky, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine, said the goal is to provide a coordinated system of value-based care for patients across the region.
“This partnership brings together two health care systems that share both a dedication to excellence in patient care and a desire to develop new models of care in a rapidly changing health care marketplace,” he said in a news release.
The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital has a partnership with The Community Hospital in Munster, treating premature and critically ill babies.
Babies in Community's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are cared for by board certified University of Chicago neonatologists, said Marie Forszt, director of marketing and community relations for Community.