The Future of Baylor College of Medicine

Now that the merger talks with Rice and Baylor University are officially over, only one major question remains regarding Baylor Med’s financial status – what are we going to do about the incomplete Baylor Hospital?

Dr. Greenberg, dean of medical education, was kind enough to hold a Q & A session today to address the hospital and other concerns brought up by students/faculty. I also learned some unrelated things about the history of Baylor Med through his responses.

When Baylor Med separated from Baylor University in 1969, several stipulations were laid down for the medical school. First, a certain fraction of Baylor Med’s board of trustees would be comprised of people from Baylor University. Dr. Greenberg acknowledged that while this group is a very small percentage of the board, it’s present nevertheless. Also, if the college of medicine were to ever realign itself with another institution, Baylor University would have to agree with the merger and all associated provisions.

Here is some of the question and answer session:

  • Did the student/faculty petitions against the Baylor Med – Baylor University merger have any influence on the final decision?
    • Minimally, but the petition(s) were acknowledged by the board of trustees
  • Where does Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) fall into the recent events?
    • TCH has continued to support Baylor Med’s decisions throughout the merger process and actively seeks to work more closely with us.
  • Once the financial situation stabilizes, will BCM reopen negotiations with Rice?
    • Probably not, but if it happens, the merger would be on different terms.
  • What’s going on with the Baylor hospital?
    • Whether or not the hospital will be built out entirely is still on the table. Decisions will most likely be made in the next six months. If we decide to complete the hospital, it will take another 4-5 years before it’s up and running.
  • Can you talk about the drop BCM’s rank as of the last reporting?
    • In the past, BCM had been allowed to count research as MD Anderson (an affiliated institution) towards the rank, but not last year. Good news is that our NIH funding is a little better than last year.
  • The NIH alerted BCM about a conflict in interest… can you elaborate? (link to article)
    • NIH alerts BCM about a conflict in interest. BCM has a process in which every faculty member has to fill out a conflict of interest form, and if there’s a discrepancy, it goes to the ethics committee for further evaluation. NIH went in to look at one or two conflict of interests and didn’t like the way we report them. We need to change the process to include a committee re-review of the conflict of interest and send in some paperwork from the past few years.

I think Baylor Med’s main reason for ending the merger negotiations simply boils down to retaining the values which made us great in the first place. Balances and financial practices have drastically improved, and we’re holding our own in terms of positive cash flow. While it’s true that a substantial debt looms overhead, the administration at BCM continue to make strides in what I feel is the right direction.

Unfortunately for students and faculty, we’ll continue to read/listen to more comments by people who live in Houston but don’t have a shred of insight as to what’s going on within the four walls until something more definitive about the Baylor Hospital and financial situation surfaces.

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