Special Grand Rounds Address Children's Hospital Affiliation Inquiries

Leaders Discuss Partnership Between UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland

From left: Bertram H. Lubin, MD; Sam Hawgood, MBBS; and Mark Laret explain the nature of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital's affiliation with Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland at a special grand rounds held at Cole Hall on Jan. 30.

By Leland Kim on February 03, 2014

A mood of cautious optimism filled UC San Francisco’s Cole Hall as leaders of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland spoke at a special grand rounds Thursday to discuss the partnership – or “affiliation” – between the two hospitals, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Sam Hawgood, MBBS, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and future interim chancellor of UCSF; Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital; and Bertram H. Lubin, MD, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Oakland spoke to an audience comprising UCSF faculty members who take care of children.

Members of the audience were cautiously optimistic about the partnership between

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland.

The session was chaired by Donna Ferriero, MD. professor of pediatrics and neurology, chair of the UCSF Department of Pediatrics, and physician-in-chief of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Leadership from both organizations addressed questions about the exact nature of the partnership.

Laret called it a “membership substitution,” emphasizing the point that this is not an acquisition or a merger. Children’s Oakland continues to be a separate corporation, even though the University of California is now the sole member of that corporation.

“So the financial well-being of Children’s Oakland and its long-term future are the responsibilities of the University of California,” Laret said. “Yet it will operate as a separately licensed, private hospital.”

Hawgood said the affiliation makes sense because “together we can provide much better for children in the Bay Area than we can apart,” emphasizing that although clinical care is the driving force, there may be opportunities to collaborate on research and health care policy.

“There is a tremendous amount we can learn from each other, but it’s going to take time,” Hawgood said. “While the two hospitals came together on January 1st, the two medical staffs are going to come together over a prolonged period of time.  And it’s going to take patience, mutual respect, and most importantly the development of mutual trust for us to really work effectively together.”

Lubin echoed Hawgood’s message about the importance of collaboration.

“We have the patient population that will benefit from the expertise here at UCSF,” Lubin said. “Children’s Oakland has a 100-year commitment to our community, and we want it to be another 100 years. Standing alone made that goal very challenging. We needed a long-term survival plan, so the partnership with UCSF was important to us.”

Leaders from both hospitals believe the biggest advantage to the affiliation is that two medium-sized hospitals will collaborate as one large-sized program, giving both UCSF and Children’s Oakland “scalability.”

David J. Durand, MD, talks about how physicans at both hospitals could benefit from

the new affiliation.

“Things neither of us could do individually, we can now do together,” said David J. Durand, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Children’s Oakland. “The new relationship could yield efficiencies and opportunities.”

One challenge is effectively finding a workable solution for two specific groups of physicians, one of whom is used to an academic medical center model while the other is used to a private practice model.

UCSF and Children’s Oakland are both large institutions with long histories and diverse cultures. Leaders hope to find opportunities and avoid pitfalls that could get in the way of those opportunities.

“This is going to be an evolution,” Hawgood said. “We will learn together, learn what our respective strengths are, and earn what works well on one side of the Bay or another.”

UCSF faculty members in the audience seemed optimistic about opportunities to collaborate with their counterparts at Children’s Oakland.

Naomi Bardach, MD, asks about opportunities to collaborate on research ideas with

counterparts at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland.

Naomi Bardach, MD, an assistant adjunct professor with the UCSF School of Medicine, suggested a “bottom up” approach to collaboration.  By encouraging Children’s Oakland physicians to use UCSF Profiles, she believes an opportunity for researchers to find others who share similar research interests could increase.

The hope for the first year is to focus on “the big picture,” by addressing questions such as, “How can we cross cover each other?”

Leaders of both hospitals were united in a singular mission of serving Bay Area’s children as best as possible.

“We’re thrilled to get started and we’re very optimistic about the future,” Lubin said. “I think over time we will create the best children’s hospital in the world and that’s what our mission and goals are. I want to thank you for allowing us to be a part of your (UCSF) family. We are very proud of that. We will carry this brand with pride and we’ll reflect well on everything the University of California stands for.”

Photos by Susan Merrell