WSU pediatricians get more time to decide if they'll stay

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Wayne State University won't be firing its 110 pediatricians who work for Children's Hospital of Michigan before the end of the year.

WSU let its faculty pediatricians know last week that it had suspended the Nov. 18  deadline it had set for its faculty clinicians to decide whether to join WSU's new faculty practice group or lose their jobs with the university.

"There was a concern by many faculty that they didn't have enough time to carefully consider what they were going to do," said Dr. Herman Gray, chair of the WSU pediatrics department. "After considering that, we decided to give them a little more time ... We will re-evaluate in early 2020."

Herman Gray

Gray emphasized that there will be a termination date.

The additional time for the pediatric faculty to make a decision came even though Wayne State had given University Pediatricians, the physician practice group that recently aligned with Central Michigan University, until midnight Oct. 30 to pay nearly $18 million to the university says it is owed — and UP didn't pay.

Gray said the university will continue to pay the pediatricians even though UP is not paying WSU a stipend for physicians' payments that amounts to about $1 million a month. Covering the payments is not sustainable for WSU, Gray said.

"We have a duty and obligation to faculty and we are just trying to juggle those competing priorities,” he said.

University Pediatricians stopped paying the stipend after switching its affiliation from Wayne State to CMU in February.

Last month, university officials gave an ultimatum to its faculty pediatricians: join Wayne Pediatrics, the new WSU pediatrics group, or lose their jobs with the university on Nov. 18.

"We very much regret the necessity of taking this measure, but we are afraid we have no option, due to the failure of University Pediatricians, PC to fulfill its financial obligation on your behalf," read the letter, signed by Gray and Dr. Jack Sobel, dean of the WSU School of Medicine.

“It’s a difficult situation and there is no good answer," Gray said Thursday. "So we are going to incur more expense but hopefully faculty will feel more confident about the decisions they make for their professional careers.”