Miami U., Mercy Health partnership mutually beneficial

The Miami University-Mercy Health Affiliation was announced in April to collaborate on academic initiatives, provide sports medicine services and sponsor a student-athlete sports medicine and rehabilitation center.

The educational opportunities will benefit thousands of Miami students in a handful of disciplines, as well as Mercy Health’s 32,000 employees across Ohio and Kentucky.

“Miami University sees great opportunity for students, internships, job opportunities,” said Thomas Urban, market leader and president for Mercy Health’s north market. “We see curriculum already in place that we can take advantage of so we have a steady flow of workers.”

Miami University has more than 100,000 graduates living in Ohio, and 48,000 alone in southwest Ohio. Urban said it’s also of value to Mercy Health that Miami has a national reputation.

Mercy Health as the largest health system in Ohio, operates 23 hospitals and more than 450 locations across Ohio and Kentucky. In southwest Ohio, Mercy Health operates five hospitals in Greater Cincinnati, including Fairfield Hospital, and Springfield Regional Medical Center and Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana.

Urban said a steering committee of about seven people from the two entities will start work this month on prioritizing two to three areas within academics to focus on long term, and the desired outcomes and objectives in those areas.

“It will kick off research and academic opportunities we want to start with,” said Jim Oris, associate provost for research and dean of the graduate school at Miami.

To help guide the conversation, Oris developed a one-sheeter on educational and academic opportunities between the two entities. It identified eight applicable areas — Allied Health Professions, Nursing, Health Information Technology, Diversity/Cultural Awareness, Physician Leadership Development, Athletic Training/Sports Medicine and Gerontology - Centers of Healthy Aging — and the existing programs offered by Miami.

“This document has been the foundation for our conversation,” Urban said. “I’m feeling enthusiastic about this because there was a lot of enthusiasm in the room.”

Oris said he hopes to get a couple things off the ground immediately that are “waiting in the wings.” He’s been in contact with Mercy Health’s director of clinical education regarding a nurse management and leadership program and advanced wound care training for nurses. These are two new programs Miami has developed that include coursework for both nursing students and working nurses, Oris said.

“We’re a known, strong entity to tap into for employees,” Oris said of Miami.

And in return, Oris said Mercy Health locations could serve as clinical education and training sites for nursing students.

Urban said as the population continues to age at a fast rate — 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day — the expectations of baby boomers and the sheer volume of patient numbers will need to be addressed.

“When you look ahead, you’ve got an aging population that will need and demand more health care,” Urban said, adding his industry is faced with a shortage of nurses and physicians. “We have a good relationship with the school of nursing.”

Urban said another item of importance is the growing and evolving areas of health information technology and the need to manage population health.

The health system as of July 1 also became the university’s exclusive provider of sports medicine and rehabilitation services for varsity sports, club sports and recreational-intramural sports.

As part of the affiliation with Miami, Mercy Health will provide $10 million over 13 years to support construction of the Gunlock Family Performance Center beyond Yager Stadium’s north end zone. The center will serve as home for Miami football and be a sports medicine and rehabilitation center for all of the university’s 540 student-athletes, said David Sayler, athletic director.

A groundbreaking for the Gunlock Family Performance Center will be at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 22 just north of Yager Stadium near the new indoor sports center.

“We will continue to partner on concussion protocol; we will lean on Mercy’s expertise to continue to learn more,” Sayler said.