University of Minnesota moving to reacquire medical center from Fairview Health Services

U of M hospital
The University of Minnesota is pursuing a plan to reacquire its Twin Cities campus health care facilities from Fairview Health Services.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News file

Updated: 1 p.m.

The University of Minnesota is pursuing a plan to reacquire its Twin Cities campus health care facilities from Fairview Health Services.

The University of Minnesota Regents on Friday voted to support a nonbinding letter of intent with Fairview to regain ownership of the U’s teaching hospital by the end of 2027.

The letter “signals agreement to advance discussions toward creating a new relationship centered around the University’s eventual ownership and control of the University of Minnesota Medical Center,” according to documents filed ahead of Friday’s meeting.

The letter already had been approved by the boards of Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians.

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The U sold the medical center to Fairview amid financial challenges in 1997.

The letter of intent approved by the Regents on Friday does not include information about a purchase price. It’s part of discussions toward a new agreement between Fairview and the U, after Fairview moved last fall to end the current partnership.

“What I think this does provide is this common vision, if you will, that both Fairview and the university agreed to in terms of this change in the relationship, but there is a lot to be fleshed out in terms of some of the dollars and cents questions,” said Interim University President Jeff Ettinger.

The letter outlines a proposed transaction in which the U would pay Fairview 51 percent of the unspecified “agreed purchase price” by the end of 2024, with the transaction set to be completed by the end of 2027.

“This is a critical first step towards a new and reimagined relationship that will better meet the current and future needs of our patients and our community,” Fairview Health Services President and CEO James Hereford said in a news release. “Our patients and our employees, who contribute significantly to our success, will remain the heart of our organizations. Today’s announcement is designed to provide clarity on our collaborative path forward.”

Both the university and Fairview said there will be no change in patient care or day-to-day operations stemming from the letter of intent.

The move comes after an unsuccessful proposed merger between Fairview and South Dakota-based Sanford Health.

And last year, U officials said they would seek state funding to help the university acquire the medical center, which includes hospitals on the east and west banks, the M Health Fairview Clinics and Surgery Center and the Masonic Children’s Hospital.