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The Save UTMC Coalition Renews Its Efforts to Preserve the Facility

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 facility.

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 Flower Hospital.

“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 neighborhood.

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.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/10/20 09:28:23 -0400.

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