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Columbia Missourian

MU medical buildings to receive $54.1 million in upgrades

By T.J. Thomson, Molly Duffy
September 12, 2013 | 10:01 p.m. CDT
Thomas Richards, University of Missouri System interim vice president for finance, speaks Thursday during the UM System Board of Curators meeting at MU's Memorial Student Union.

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Orthopaedic Institute and University Hospital got the green light for $54.1 million in upgrades Thursday at the University of Missouri System Board of Curators meeting.

MU built the institute in 2010 and had originally planned for an $80 million building, but scaled it back to a $50 million project so that it could gauge use, said Harold Williamson Jr., executive vice chancellor for health affairs.

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The existing facility served 55,966 patients in 2012. By 2020, stakeholders expect the number to increase by 40.3 percent, to 93,600 patients.

Because of its high use, UM System administrators said they thought renovations on the relatively new facility were justified.

“You may say, ‘You're building a lot of new buildings,’ and you would be right,” Williamson said.

James Stannard, chairman of MU's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, said he thinks the renovations will be academically beneficial.

"I think that this facility and the momentum that we've been able to achieve as a department is very significantly changing the landscape for us in terms of the quality of people we can recruit and the research personnel that we're bringing in," Stannard said.

MU Health Care is unique in that its academic interests aren't overshadowed by its patient care, Richards said.

“We have such good diversification,” he said.

Health care, at 39 percent, represents the largest operating revenue for the UM System, according to a presentation by Tom Richards, UM System treasurer and interim vice president of finance.

MU Health Care came out $11 million higher in fiscal year 2013 than it did last year, Richards said.

"We well outpaced our budget and were honestly surprised and delighted," Williamson said.

In discussing the health system's performance, Curator Ann Covington, who represents Columbia, brought up questions about area partnerships and potentially redundant services.

"The geographic area that Columbia serves is well beyond Boone County," Covington said. "I gather that there have been a number of layoffs at both hospitals (Boone Hospital Center and University Hospital). What kind of collaboration is there, and what kind of turf wars are there? And where there are turf wars here, is there some way to address them? Do we really need this kind of equipment 1 mile away when it’s already over here?"

Williamson responded to Covington's questions by saying, "Yes, we're working on that."

"I’ve been here since 1980," he said. "Many good people have tried to work on that; it’s very difficult. It’s worth thinking about the trade-off between collaboration and competition. It would be worth noting that BJC (a health care organization in St. Louis) just formulated a statewide collaborative that we weren’t asked to participate in."

In other business, the curators:

The curators will meet again at 9 a.m. Friday in Columbia. They are scheduled to hear reports from Board of Curators Chairman Wayne Goode and UM System President Tim Wolfe. Other agenda items include a panel discussion with all four chancellors and a review of numerous systemwide human resource policies.

Audio of the meeting will be streamed live at umsystem.edu/curators/stream.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.