Miami, Mercy Health announce new partnership

The affiliation, announced Wednesday, will allow the college and health system to collaborate on educational programs offered at Miami’s Oxford and regional campuses, as well as Mercy Health locations throughout the state, according to a news release.

The partnership would also include opportunities for research, student scholarships and internships. The school and health system will likely partner in areas of nursing, allied health professions, health information technology, gerontology, physician leadership development and athletic training/sports medicine.

“This agreement brings together the strengths of two top people-centered institutions,” said Miami President David Hodge in a statement. “This partnership establishes a platform to create significant opportunities for Miami students and faculty to engage with a wide range of people and activities at Mercy Health. It also provides dedicated support for the physical care, athletic preparation and ultimate success of our student-athletes.”

Nanette Bentley, spokeswoman for Mercy Health, said the academic venture will be mutually beneficial for the Miami and Mercy Health communities. She said Mercy Health employees would be able to receive training, such as nurse and physician leadership courses through an executive master of business administration.

“(Mercy Health) has provided rotations for the school of nursing and (other) things that have been more individualized,” said Thomas Urban, market leader and president for Mercy Health’s north market. “This will tie everything together in a more formal relationship. … It really establishes a platform for growth on the academic side.”

In return, Mercy Health has pledged to donate $10 million over 13 years for the planned Gunlock Family Performance Center, which will serve as a “state-of-the-art sports medicine and rehabilitation center” for Miami’s 540 varsity student-athletes and “very active campus” of club and intramural sports, according to David Sayler, Miami’s athletic director. The center is slated to open in January of 2017.

The Gunlock Family Performance Center was named in December by a $6 million lead gift from Randy, class of 1977, and Vicki Gunlock of Dayton.

In total, the Gunlock Family Performance Center will cost about $23 million, said David Creamer, vice president of finance at Miami. It’s still in the design phase and will go before the board of trustees for pre-construction services approval May 1. Creamer said the construction will be financed through private gifts.

Also, starting July 1, Mercy Health will become Miami’s sole provider of sports medicine and rehabilitation services for all of the school’s varsity, club and intramural sports programs.

Sayler said prior to this affiliation with Mercy Health, there was no exclusive partnership for sports medicine and rehabilitation services. The university currently works with six physicians for those services, and Sayler said he anticipates those relationships with continue.

UC Health physician Dr. Stephen Dailey, a 1984 graduate of Miami, will continue as director of sports medicine at Miami. He will work in conjunction with Dr. Ronald Hess of Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, an affiliate of Mercy Health.

Dr. Hess has provided sports medicine services to Miami athletes for about 15 years and has been affiliated with Mercy Health for about two years, Urban said.

“In addition to continuing to provide the top quality care that Miami University’s student athletes have come to expect from Mercy Health, we will build upon Miami University’s reputation as an outstanding undergraduate institution by creating a robust program of educational initiatives that can help students advance their careers across a broad range of health care roles, research opportunities and more,” said John Starcher, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Health – Cincinnati.

Earlier this year, Miami opened its new, $14 million David and Anita Dauch Indoor Sports Center adjacent to Yager Stadium that includes a full 100-yard football field, with an artificial, grass-like turf, that can be modified by netting and other means to accommodate additional sports.

An open house for this facility will be held at noon Saturday for the public. A ceremony will include Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, both of whom made financial contributions.

Sayler said some bleachers at Yager Stadium will be removed to make room for the Gunlock Family Performance Center, which will connect to the new indoor sports complex upon completion.

Rehabilitation services are currently conducted inside the aging Withrow Court that’s set to be demolished next year, Sayler said. The rehabilitation portion of the new facility will be named after Mercy Health and include all the latest equipment including underwater treadmills.

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