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Henry Ford Health System and MSU Announce 30-year Partnership

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   January 25, 2021

The two organizations signed a definitive agreement to address health inequities, as well as expand care and education in Michigan.

Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) and Michigan State University (MSU) have signed a definitive agreement, the organizations announced Monday afternoon.

This 30-year partnership expands upon the two organizations' ongoing partnership to focus on healthcare and education access.

Key initiatives for the partnership include increased cancer research and care, with the hope of obtaining National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation within the next five to seven years. MSU will be expanding and creating a campus to train more doctors and nurses in Detroit, all within the existing Henry Ford Campus.

According to a joint press release, diversity, equity, and inclusion are “core components of the partnership and are embedded throughout the agreement in a commitment to addressing access to health care and health disparities in both urban and rural communities."

The agreement comes seven months after the organizations signed a letter of intent for primary affiliation in June. Both organizations will remain independent but there will be co-branding within some of their joint efforts.

During a virtual news briefing, HFHS CEO Wright L. Lassiter III and MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., spoke about what the partnership will mean for the Great Lake State.

"We know that healthcare means more than just traditional thinking about treating sickness and disease. It's about coming together to address all aspects that contribute to our community's well-being, including removing barriers to opportunity and access," Lassiter said. "For us to have the kind of lasting meaningful impact, we know that our great state of Michigan must become a national leader in scientific discovery, education, and exceptional healthcare, to ensure that no matter who you are or where you live, your health will never limit your potential."

"With this enduring partnership between our two institutions, we aim to align efforts across several key departments and programs, to offer an unprecedented opportunity to integrate education, research, and healthcare," Stanley said. "Most critical is the foundational belief that we can and will advance equity, that every individual deserves accessible, affordable, compassionate quality care, and that together we can play an essential role in delivery."

Additionally, the organizations will be jointly opening a new Health Sciences Center for research and academic activities. Dr. Steven Kalkanis, chief academic officer for HFHS and CEO of Henry Ford Medical Group, will serve as president of the Health Sciences Center. Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, executive vice president for health sciences for MSU, will serve as chairman of the board.

"[MSU] and [HFHS] are two massive entities that are coming together to make Michigan a national leader in providing access to exceptional healthcare for all residents for scientific discovery and education for providers, patients and families," Garlin Gilchrist, Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor, said during the briefing. "The partnership is built around providing greater access to quality, affordable, compassionate healthcare through shared education, research and clinical integration for urban and rural populations alike. I hope this kind of partnership can be replicated across the state of Michigan."

Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: DETROIT, MI-MAY, 2015: The Henry Ford Health System is one of the largest medical providers in the Detroit area. This is the original hospital where it was founded by Henry Ford. / Editorial credit: James R. Martin /

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