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Jackson Memorial Hospital & the University of Miami: Two Diamonds in the Rough … “Can You See Me Now?”

Just like life is a journey and not a destination, so is the relationship between Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami. It’s not that they can’t get along, they can, but they’re relationship is changing.

No one contract can or should last forever, it’s impossible. What could have been a perfect fit 40 or 50 years ago could be totally obsolete today. Life is about fluidity, constantly moving forward, forever changing, discovering and re-discovering different ways to do things, while trying to meet the demands of their present market or patients, in the case of Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami.

Let’s take a look back in history:
James M. Jackson, physician and civil leader, in the early 1900’s organized the city’s board of health and was later elected president and would have the task of building a new hospital in the City of Miami.

The Miami City Hospital opened its doors on June 25, 1918, replacing the deteriorating Friendly Society Hospital on Biscayne Boulevard. Over the past 90 years, the Miami City Hospital would grow from a 13-bed hospital to a comprehensive health system with several hospitals and clinics, now called Jackson Health System (JHS).

Jackson Memorial Hospital has become a renowned health care provider recognized for its highly-trained physicians and cutting edge care.

In the early 1950’s, Florida’s lack of a medical school began to be a subject of concern in Tallahassee. Several cities lobbied for the school but, ultimately, Miami was chosen. On September 22, 1952, the University Of Miami School Of Medicine welcomed its first class of 26 students, and Jackson Memorial Hospital immediately became an integral part of the medical school’s program.

In 1956, Dr. Robert S. Litwak, chief of thoracic surgery, performed the first open heart operation in Florida, and by 1960, the hospital was performing cardiopulmonary bypass procedures aided by a new heart-lung machine. That year, the hospital purchased its artificial kidney and began offering dialysis treatment to renal patients.

As you can see, in the 50’s, the demographics were very different from what it is today:

Since the 1950’s and World War II, many things have changed in Florida for the betterment of all mankind. African American citizens now have the same rights as other American citizens and diversity is commonplace.

Tourism, cattle, citrus, and phosphate have been joined by a host of new industries that have greatly expanded the number of jobs available to residents. Electronics, plastics, construction, real estate, and international banking are among the states more recently-developed industries.

After Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba in 1959, many Cubans emigrated in protest of the communist regime. Many of these immigrants chose Miami as their new home. As a result, Miami gained certain magnetism to future Cuban immigrants wishing to settle in a land other than Cuba. “The so-called Golden Exiles of the early 1960s” comprised the first wave of Cuban immigrants to Miami.

Today, Floridians study their state’s long history to learn more about the lives of the men and women who shaped their exciting past. By learning about our rich and varied heritage, we can draw lessons to help create a better Florida for all of its citizens.

So, as you can see, much have change since the pioneering days of the 50’s, and what applied way back when may no longer apply today. Thus, the contract that was formulized in 1952 between Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami certainly should have been reviewed years ago, as the demographics of Miami have changed.

With respect to patient care and financial responsibilities and compensations, this is something that Jackson Memorial and the University of Miami can work out.

Some suggestions:

1. Which facility had initial contact with the patient? If it is JHS, then Jackson should get the lion share of the pie. If it is the University of Miami, then UM should get the lion share of the pie.

2. If the patient’s care was initiated at Jackson but was later referred to a UM specialist, then Jackson should remain the primary payee and UM should give Jackson a referral fee and vise-versa.

3. No one institution should knowingly take advantage of the other for financial gain by way of the patient’s illness and the patient’s lack of understanding the financial details of his or her insurance.

4. All patients should have a patient care coordinator explain their options to them. The options should not be explained to a patient by a competing physician.

5. Every possible solution should be addressed before JHS and UM even think about or consider bifurcating from each other.

There are more than enough patients for both Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami to peacefully co-exist and still make a profit. Both facilities should commit to providing services for a percentage of under privileged citizens in its community, without placing a financial burden on one or the other.

The community will suffer greatly if Jackson Memorial and the University of Miami decided to go their separate ways. If that should happen, the institutions could gain financial success but the patients will suffer in the end. What is the oath of your profession? “Cause No Harm?” That is exactly what you will be doing if the two of you can’t come to an agreement!

Jackson Memorial, you need the University of Miami and the University of Miami, you need Jackson Memorial. Check your ego’s at the door and find a way to make this relationship work. Not just for you but also for the communities you claim to love, serve and respect.

Creative Commons License by Brenda Palmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at


November 14, 2011 - Posted by | Business News | , , , , , , , , ,

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