The Save UTMC Coalition Renews Its Efforts to Preserve the
Sojourner’s Truth Staff
Members of the Save UTMC
Coalition gathered on Saturday afternoon , along with dozens
of supporters, on the grounds of the Dana Cancer Center, to
reflect on past successes but, more importantly, to continue
the plans in their ongoing struggle to keep the University
of Toledo Medical Center intact and a vital part of the
south Toledo landscape.
The Coalition and its
supporters have not been gathering in-person during the last
three to four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Zoom
meetings, write-in campaigns, telephone calls have kept the
pressure on the University of Toledo, which had been
weighing an offer from ProMedica to take over the UTMC
Five years ago, the University of Toledo and ProMedica
signed an academic affiliation agreement that enabled
ProMedica to begin a systematic relocation of UTMC health
personnel away from the public-held campus to the
privately-held ProMedica facilities.
One result of this stripping of medical talent, and,
according to critics, some of UTMC’s top revenue producing
departments, has been a downgrade from a thriving academic
institution, that also serves as a valued research center as
well as a hospital caring for area patients, to a facility
that is losing millions of dollars per year – a loss of $13
million thus far in 2020 – and is on the verge of closing.
Months ago, State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and state
Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Lisa Sobecki
(D-Toledo) and Mike Sheehy (D-Oregon) wrote a letter urging
University of Toledo interim President Gregory Postel to
halt the transfer of residents, faculty and programs from
the University of Toledo’s Dana Cancer Center to ProMedica’s
“If these transfers take
place as scheduled, they will dismantle a nationally
renowned residency program to the detriment of the
University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC),” the letter
said, in part.
Thus began the effort by the Coalition.
“Over the last 90 days, your steadfastness has lifted us
from having zero influence to a point where the hospital has
been taken off the market,” said former Mayor Carty
Finkbeiner, Coalition coordinator, during his opening
remarks on Saturday.
Indeed, last month, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) and
members of the Save UTMC Coalition, including Fedor and
Finkbeiner, released the following statement in response to
the announcement that the University of Toledo will
indefinitely postpone the Request for Proposals (RFP)
process issued for its medical center:
"I am thankful the
University of Toledo Board and UT Interim President Dr.
Gregory Postel have answered our community's call to stay
the sale of UTMC'S Teaching Hospital and emptying out of its
publicly-financed academic research and medical campus. This
entire situation demands full sunlight and an accounting to
our citizenry," said Rep. Kaptur. Kaptur serves as the
honorary chairman of the Coalition.
Various speakers on Saturday cheered the efforts of the
Coalition in bringing the proposed sale, and its
postponement, to public attention by highlighting the
positive work that goes on at UTMC and the negative impact
that the loss of the facility would have on the south Toledo
Longtime City Councilman and real estate agent Rob Ludeman,
a member of the Coalition, spoke of his business dealings in
the area and “the negative effect on property values if
anything bad happens to UTMC.”
Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz praised the work of the Coalition
and supporters. Referring to a meeting involving city
elected officials and UT administration, Kapszukiewicz said:
“Such events are an indication of the power you have – it’s
working. Progress is being made and wouldn’t be happening
without your involvement.”
UTMC is that rare hospital facility that serves as a
teaching, healing and research institution – a point that
Randy Desposito, president of AFSCME Local 2415 and a member
of the Coalition, mentioned during his remarks.
Theresa M. Gabriel, also a Coalition member, spoke of the
need for the hospital in the neighborhood. “We need teamwork
and to continue [this campaign],” she told the supporters.
Gabriel, who serves on the executive board of the NAACP,
also announced that the civil rights groups will be
supporting the fight to save UTMC.