Saline executives call medical group over stalled talks for new health care facility

SALINE, MI — Bringing health care facilities back to Saline is a top priority after years on a trajectory of closures and reduced services, city leaders say.

In that context, a statement this week took aim at a recent “setback” caused by broken negotiations with the IHA, a major group of Michigan physicians and operator of urgent care centers.

Saline board member Jack Ceo, secretary of a city health care task force aimed at attracting providers to the city, delivered the remarks planned during a meeting of the municipal council on Monday, January 24calling out IHA for abruptly cutting off talks on an offer of land in an industrial park in the city.

IHA made an offer for land west of Zippy Auto Wash on East Michigan Avenue, and city leaders opted to move forward with negotiations on other offers given the need for services. medical facilities in Saline, said the CEO. But the potential deal fell apart after city staff and its realtor reached out to begin talks, he said.

“IHA declined to discuss the offer further. Instead, they indicated they would explore other location options without hearing the city’s concerns about their proposal,” Ceo said.

“We are making this statement to inform the citizens of Saline and our wider community of the type of response, or should I say lack thereof, that has been made by the IHA,” he added, promising that officials would continue to work to attract a health care provider to the community.

However, all may not be lost.

Saline Mayor Brian Marl said Friday that he has since contacted the president of the IHA and understands that the group, headquartered in Ann Arbor and a subsidiary of St. Joseph Mercy Health System, is exploring other options in the greater Saline area.

In an emailed statement, IHA spokeswoman Amy Middleton said the group “appreciates the partnership with the city to identify health care needs within the community,” acknowledging the need local services.

The plot in question is no longer an option for IHA due to its size, but it is “committed to building a new medical center that will offer these services and is in active negotiation on other options that are sized to meet our needs,” Middleton mentioned.

The discussions with IHA on the package are not new, dating back to at least 2018according to The Saline Post.

For Marl, the stakes are high.

“Look where we are over the last decade,” the mayor said. “We lost a community hospital which was later taken over by Trinity Health/St. Joe, then we lost inpatient services, then we lost the emergency room, then they closed our urgent care facility. The trajectory on which we have embarked is not good.

In 2020, Marl said he asked the city council to create the Healthcare Improvement Task Force, which has since worked to research and document needs in the Saline area, while building relationships. with suppliers.

In late 2021, a city negotiating team received written communication from the IHA expressing interest in Lot 20A in the industrial park on East Michigan Avenue, Marl said.

The city’s response was positive “but also indicated a desire to see some level of service provided onsite should the property be sold and developed by IHA,” he said.

The city then learned from the IHA that it was no longer interested in discussing the plot, Marl said.

Still, his conversation with the medical group’s leadership this week was “positive and optimistic”, he said, predicting the conversations to continue in the months to come.

“I have been insisting for many months that the lack of quality health care facilities in the community of Saline is very problematic,” Marl said.

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