UT plans faculty for medical school after Proposition 1 passage

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UT aims to hire a nationally-recognized medical professional as the inaugural dean for a planned medical school by fall 2013.

Hiring a dean to administrate the medical school and help oversee its formation is one of many tasks the University must accomplish within the next year to be on the path to open in September 2015 or 2016, said Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost.

“We feel like we are in a position to hire a national leader of medicine to head up the school,” Leslie said.

The University will appoint a committee of faculty members and health officials that will seek candidates for the position according to Leslie.

A committee composed of deans, Seton officials and UT-Southwestern officials will be tasked with determining a curriculum and budget proposal to submit to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for approval, Leslie said. Another committee will propose research initiatives for the school to focus on, he said.

Leslie said two medical school buildings will likely be constructed near University Medical Center Brackenridge, although an official location has not been finalized. He said one building will house classrooms and administration and the other will be dedicated to medical research.

The UT System Board of Regents pledged $30 million per year for eight years and $25 million per year in subsequent years for the medical school’s construction and operations.

The Seton Healthcare Family pledged $250 million toward the construction of the teaching hospital, which will replace University Medical Center Brackenridge, Leslie said.

The teaching hospital’s operations will be funded by a voter-approved 5-cent property tax increase. Effective Oct. 1, property taxes collected by Central Health, Travis County’s hospital district, will increase from 7.89 cents to 12.9 cents per $100 of assessed property value. The increase will generate an estimated $54 million increase in annual revenue toward Central Health.

A Medicaid waiver program created in 2011 would provide $1.46 for every $1 raised by Central Health, bringing total revenue raised as a result of the property tax increase to more than $130 million annually.

$35 million would fund operations at the teaching hospital and purchase medical services from medical school students and faculty for the general public.

To manage these funds, Central Health, Seton Healthcare Family and other Austin health care providers will establish the Community Care Collaborative, a non-profit organization designed to provide greater coordination between health care providers that care for patients who are low-income and are uninsured or underinsured.

Larry Wallace, Central Health’s vice president of service delivery, said the collaborative aims to streamline health care costs by tracking patients’ progress and directing them to the proper provider to treat their ailment. Wallace said the collaborative will be established by October 2013.

“I think we have a tremendous opportunity to provide health care in a more organized and collaborative way,” Wallace said.

Greg Hartman, University Medical Center Brackenridge president and CEO, said the parties involved in the collaborative are still discussing how the collaborative will meet its goals.

“There is still a lot we have to do to get to this to work the way we want to,” Hartman said.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: UT lays plans for future medical school