This is a beautiful, clean space, as inviting as any hotel. But all thirty-four beds on this floor are idle. A twenty-room progressive care unit is also unoccupied, leaving one-tenth of the new, $294 million, 537-bed hospital vacant. St. Joe’s doesn’t have the patients to fill it.
A gaze from the spotless picture windows on the top floor reveals a possible solution in the distance: University Hospital. In March, a thunderbolt of a press release seemed to momentarily light up the dark rooms: “U-M Health System and Trinity Health–Michigan sign master affiliation agreement.”
“We are starting to shrink capacity, and U-M is at capacity,” says Rob Casalou, the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System’s CEO for Washtenaw and Livingston counties. “I think we both see that there are great opportunities for us to cooperate there.”
Doug Strong, CEO of the University of Michigan Hospitals, agrees. “We turn away adults and children on a weekly basis—we have several hundred patients a year that can’t be accommodated as quickly as needed. For the adult population, the problem is physical—not enough beds. For children, we don’t have enough people, mainly nurses.