BGSU, Mercy Health announce partnership to grow health care education

In an effort to address a statewide shortage of nurses and the high demand for other health professionals, Mercy Health and Bowling Green State University announced today that they have signed a letter of intent to transfer operations of Mercy College of Ohio to BGSU.

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Mercy Health will serve as a key partner with BGSU and will provide clinical experiences for students and employment opportunities for graduates. Together the organizations will also explore ways to enhance the health and well-being of their communities through research, grants and other training opportunities.

According to leaders of the organizations, linking Mercy College’s strong, established programs and the clinical expertise of Mercy Health with BGSU’s academic breadth and scope as a tier-one, comprehensive public university will benefit students and the state. BGSU students come from throughout Ohio and the Midwest, aligning with the service areas of Mercy Health, Ohio’s largest health care provider.

“This partnership is a great fit,” said BGSU President Rodney Rogers. “As a public university, we have an obligation to create public good. That meshes seamlessly with Mercy’s mission to provide health care and wellness services to all in need. Together, we can strengthen health care education in Ohio and better serve our students.”

“Nurses and allied health professionals are absolutely essential for providing high-quality health care in this region,” said Bob Baxter, president and CEO of Mercy Health - Toledo Region. “We’re already experiencing a nationwide shortage of nurses and the need is growing as our population ages. By working with BGSU, we can better meet that demand and enhance our ability to serve our patients and families in northwest Ohio and across the state. We look forward to aligning our mission with BGSU’s and to continue reaching both traditional and nontraditional students for the betterment of our communities.”
 
“Health care is such an important industry in Ohio and our colleges and universities must continue to innovate in order to meet the workforce needs of this growing sector of the economy,” said John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. “Pending final review and approval of the proposal, I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and administrators at BGSU and Mercy College on next steps in order to meet the need for health care professionals in Ohio.”

BGSU and Mercy Health have begun the due diligence process necessary to execute an agreement. The transfer, which would include Mercy College’s nine degree programs and six certificate programs, is expected to take two to three years to complete. In the meantime, Mercy College will continue to serve its approximately 1,500 students.

“Mercy College and BGSU are deeply committed to ensuring the continued success of our Mercy students,” said Mercy College President Dr. Susan Wajert. “All current students, a record 1,300 in multiple degree programs in Toledo and 200 in an associate degree program in Youngstown, will be able to complete their programs of study. Given the breadth of BGSU’s academic programs and its robust student-life offerings, we’ll be able to offer more students a deeper, richer college experience.”

BGSU is committed to honoring Mercy College and the Sisters of Mercy’s 100-year legacy of providing quality education in nursing and other health care program disciplines, aligned with the mission of Mercy Health.

According to BGSU, Mercy College faculty and staff will continue to be an essential part of program operations following the transition.

“We look forward to welcoming Mercy College faculty and staff to the BGSU family,” said Dr. Sue Houston, BGSU vice president for academic partnerships. “Their expertise and dedication will be absolutely critical to the success of our students and these academic programs.”

According to Baxter, changing market dynamics and declining reimbursement for provider-based nursing programs are also factors in Mercy Health’s decision to pursue a relationship with BGSU.

“This will allow us to focus on our core business – providing nationally recognized health care programs and services locally and across Ohio and Kentucky,” Baxter said. "At the same time, we’ll benefit from an expanded pipeline of qualified, highly trained nurses and allied health professionals by allowing BGSU to do what they do best – preparing students for careers and life.”

For more than 40 years, BGSU had partnered with the former Medical College of Ohio and then the University of Toledo (UT) in a unique consortium for nursing education. Earlier this year, UT notified BGSU that it wanted to phase out its partnership. As a result, BGSU has been working to develop a full nursing program.

 “When UT approached us about discontinuing the consortium, we both recognized that it limited our ability to meet the growing demand for nurses and health care providers,” Rogers said. “Adding Mercy College to BGSU gives us high-quality, extremely competitive nursing and allied health programs that we can build upon and grow. We look forward to building upon this initiative with Mercy Health and upon our partnerships with other health care providers to continue developing new programs to meet the workforce needs of the state of Ohio in health care.”
 
Any final agreement will require the approval of the BGSU Board of Trustees and the boards of trustees for Mercy College and Mercy Health. In addition, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Higher Learning Commission, the Ohio Board of Nursing, the U.S. Department of Education, and professional accrediting bodies for each of the accredited programs will also need to approve the plan.

About BGSU

Bowling Green State University is a tier-one, comprehensive public university serving more than 20,000 students on two campuses in northwest Ohio. The University has nationally recognized programs and research in the natural and social sciences, education, arts, business, health and wellness, humanities and applied technologies.

About Mercy College of Ohio

Mercy College of Ohio is a member of Mercy Health, the largest health care provider in the State of Ohio, and one of the largest health systems in the country. A Catholic health care ministry, Mercy Health employs more than 33,500 and provides nationally recognized programs and services at more than 600 points of care across Ohio and Kentucky.