MN Heart Clinic and U cardiologist programs merge

Two of the stateâÄôs leading medical centers announced plans to merge their cardiology programs through Fairview Health Services into a new, integrated program. Nineteen physicians at the Minnesota Heart Clinic have joined 23 cardiologists with the University of Minnesota Physicians, along with nurses and other professionals, to create the group. The merger came after the finalization of FairviewâÄôs acquisition of MHCâÄôs assets and equipment space on Oct. 1. Plans for Fairview to purchase MHC, a specialty group of independent cardiologists, have been in negotiations for about a year and a half, and were discussed as far back as five or six years ago, said UMP cardiologist and cardiovascular division chief Daniel Garry. Upon the finalization of the merger, MHC physicians immediately became University employees, while employees involved with billing, coding and imaging became Fairview employees. MHC cardiologists will continue to practice at the clinicâÄôs four sites in Edina, Burnsville, Princeton and Wyoming, Minn. until at least the end of the year. Physician and MHC President David Laxson said every MHC employee had been hired by either Fairview or UMP, so there would be no job cuts as a result of the merger. âÄúIt’s being able to create new value and bring something that wasn’t there before,âÄù Laxson said. âÄúThis isn’t based on cutting any employees at all.âÄù He added that he was happy with how the first week had gone. âÄúThere was a lot of work to get to the point where we could execute this,âÄù he said. The cost of the purchase remains undisclosed due to confidentiality agreements, according to Fairview President and CEO Mark Eustis. Laxson said he hopes the new streamlined system will make patient care less complicated. âÄúThis will greatly improve the ability to organize care across wherever people are in the system,âÄù Laxson said. Eustis said it will be a benefit to âÄúone group of physicians, so we’re all sitting at the same table.âÄù Garry said it was also important to view the merger as a âÄútransformational opportunity.âÄù âÄúOvernight, it doubles the number of clinical faculty,âÄù Garry said. âÄúCollectively it allows us a very strong platform for growth.âÄù Garry said heâÄôd like the new program to ultimately affect the residents of the state of Minnesota, and to establish a program with âÄúnational visibility.âÄù He said he hopes the merger will have a ripple effect that affects not only the cardiovascular division, but the department of medicine, hospitals and eventually the entire system. HealthGrades rated MHC and Edina-based Fairview Southdale Hospital No. 1 in Minnesota for cardiology and cardiac care in 2008. The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, is rated in the top 50 hospitals nationally for heart surgery in U.S. News and World ReportâÄôs 2008 âÄúBest HospitalsâÄù rankings. A goal of the new cardiology program is to become a top-10 institution, Garry said.