Rochester General Health System and RIT Develop a Strategic Alliance

Partnership will target rapid advances in biomedical sciences, technology and education

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A. Sue Weisler

Mark Clement, CEO of Rochester General Health System (right), and RIT President Bill Destler announced a strategic alliance between RIT and RGHS at a Dec. 18 news conference.

Rochester Institute of Technology and Rochester General Health System today announced plans to develop a strategic alliance between the university and the healthcare provider. RIT President Bill Destler and RGHS CEO Mark Clement have been engaged in exploratory conversations about how the complementary strengths of RIT and RGHS can be of mutual benefit to the two organizations and the community.

RIT’s Board of Trustees and the RGHS’ Board of Directors have agreed to move forward with the establishment of a joint steering team that will work to develop a framework for the alliance. The framework will be brought back to the two boards for ratification in early- to mid-2009.

An agreement between the two institutions will include RIT becoming the health system’s official academic affiliate and RGHS becoming the university’s official affiliated medical center, according to Destler and Clement. The partnership will add capabilities and provide opportunities for both organizations.

“RIT and RGHS are community-focused, public service, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to the highest levels of service,” said Destler. “Complementing its technological strengths, RIT has a long tradition in the biosciences, biotechnology, medical imaging, research for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and other areas related to health. Biomedical science is fast becoming a kind of information science in which RIT’s expertise in areas such as IT, nanotechnology, robotics, and imaging can play an increasingly important role. This alliance will build on these and other strengths to create tremendous opportunities for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the Greater Rochester community.”

“As the fields of medicine and technology continue to converge, there appear to be opportunities for collaboration that would benefit both RGHS and RIT,” Clement stated. “Rochester General Hospital and its affiliates take great pride in being nationally recognized for clinical excellence, and we are committed to identifying ongoing opportunities to deliver the highest quality care and service for our patients. A strategic alliance that allows both RGHS and RIT to leverage our combined knowledge and resources opens yet another channel to the rapid advancements in biomedical sciences and biotechnology, and may have a very positive impact on the care we deliver.”

As technology continues to transform biomedical science, academic areas like computing and information sciences and digital imaging offer increasing relevance to future advancements in medicine. Through the alliance, RIT and RGHS will collaborate on education and research programs in these and other key areas—a collaboration that will include mutual access to each institution’s expertise and facilities.

Areas of collaboration include engineering, microsystems, medical imaging and medical device research. In addition, jointly authored grant proposals to state and federal agencies and private foundations for support of education, research and public service programs are likely.

Such an alliance offers broader application opportunities to faculty and students in existing RIT academic areas such as medical illustration, biomedical photographic communication, medical informatics, physician assistant education, medical sonography, biomedical science and technology, biochemistry, health management and public health policy. RIT students interested in biomedical careers could arrange cooperative education internships through RGHS and be considered for employment opportunities upon graduation.

These rich educational opportunities will support RGHS and the community at large in encouraging students to explore biomedical careers where shortages exist and by assisting in keeping highly trained graduates in the Rochester community.

“While the quality of health care in Rochester is already excellent, this effort could bring the level of quality and innovation to even higher levels,” said Michael Morley, chair of the RIT Board of Trustees, who also serves on the RGHS board. “This alliance would concentrate intellectual resources in such a way as to draw additional students, professionals and business ventures to the Rochester area.”

About RIT: Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled access and support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Nearly 16,500 full- and part-time students are enrolled in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs at RIT, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. For two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. RIT is featured in The Princeton Review’s 2009 edition of The Best 368 Colleges and in Barron’s Best Buys in Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education recognizes RIT as a “Great College to Work For.”

RIT has a long tradition in the biosciences. In 1983, RIT became the first university in the nation to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in biotechnology. In 2007, RIT dedicated its Center for Bioscience Education and Technology. CBET is a model for comprehensive academic, community and career-training programs in biotechnology and medical sciences. RIT also conducts research related to deafness and hard-of-hearing and has one of the few degree programs nationally in medical informatics.

About RGHS: Rochester General Health System (RGHS) has been serving the community of Greater Rochester and beyond for more than 160 years and has earned national recognition for excellence in a variety of clinical specialties. Rochester General Hospital, the flagship of the system, is a 528-bed tertiary care facility that treats more Monroe County patients than any other hospital in the area. It is the fourth largest cardiac center in New York State and has been recognized as one of the nation’s 100 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals eight times. RGHS also includes Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, a 188-bed facility serving primarily Wayne County; two long-term care facilities – Hill Haven and DeMay Living Center; a Medical Group consisting of more than 40 practices spread throughout Monroe and Wayne Counties; a Behavioral Health Network that provides adult and pediatric care; and Independent Living for Seniors (ILS), a program for seniors designed to enable the frail elderly to live in their own home, served by a network of supportive services.

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