Public commenters address Regents about medicine, investments, climate

Friday, July 19, 2019 - 11:44am

Westland resident Allie Parker speaks about medical practices at the University of Michigan Regents meeting Thursday.

Westland resident Allie Parker speaks about medical practices at the University of Michigan Regents meeting Thursday. Buy this photo
Madeline Hinkley/Daily

Public commenters spoke about medical processes, funding equity, investments and climate change at the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting Thursday afternoon.

Westland resident Allie Parker delivered a list of changes to medical processes at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Parker — who spoke about this issue during the February meeting — said her family endured psychological, emotional and physical trauma because a University physician inaccurately attributed one of her children’s injuries to parental abuse.

In February, Parker said the University Child Protection Team — comprised of doctors at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital — accused her and her husband, James Parker, of child abuse. The Parkers were then brought to court over this alleged child abuse, with the judge ultimately dismissing the case.

Parker claimed in Feburary that this legal process unnecessarily stalled the treatment of her child and believes this resulted in a miscarriage. She said her predicament could have been avoided if there was more accountability and that she is not the first person to raise these concerns.

“U of M was on a fishing expedition at my children’s expense,” Parker said. “I asked you in February and I’m asking you again: How many families will need to stand here with another horror story before something is done?”

Students and faculty expressed support for the One University campaign, a coalition aimed at creating funding equity the three University campus.

UM-Flint student Matthew Baldwin shared his experience as a nontraditional student. Baldwin said the Board of Regents should align itself with the goals of 1U to ease the burden of students in the University system.

1U has asked for the Go Blue Guarantee and funding from the Victors for Michigan campaign to be limited to the Ann Arbor campus and expanded resources to support programs such as study abroad and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Flint and Dearborn campuses. At the board meeting in May, a 1U spokeswomen said the coalition had the support of six board members.

“You, the University of Michigan Board of Regents members, have a story you can tell here today,” Baldwin said. “By having equitable funding amongst our three campuses, you can tell one of expanding opportunity, one of dignities, one of respect for faculty and students, one of solidarity.”

Multiple public comments addressed concerns around the potential closing of the Livonia Outpatient Surgery Center operating rooms. Members of the board reiterated that no decisions were final.

Stacy Roth, a nurse at the Livonia Outpatient Surgery Center, read a letter from a surgeon at the center, concerned about the possible shut-down of the center in three years. She said shutting down the center would be “counterproductive.”

Monica Sirven, clinical assistant professor and medical director of the Livonia Outpatient Surgery Center, said the operating rooms service the community and has consistently been profitable for Michigan Medicine.

The board is considering expanding its health system, though the operating rooms at the Livonia Outpatient Surgery Center are not currently included in this plan. Sirven said she hopes the board will reconsider.

“Surgeons want to operate at the Livonia Surgery Center,” Sirven said. “The long-term opportunity to keep patient access open in this area will be worthy of the investment if new ORs are included.”

Last week, Bridge Magazine published an article with information that showed the board voted to invest endowment money into the Detroit Renaissance Real Estate Fund, which is owned by FDR’s two business principals. Forty-seven homes bought by FDR were occupied at the time of foreclosure and evictions were filed in court on 20 of those homes, according to Bridge.

In a statement provided to The Daily, Fortus-Hela, the company that registered FDR as an LLC, claimed it was painted in a “negative light” by Bridge. The group wrote that it was sad to hear of the eviction of one of the article’s sources, but this eviction did not take place without notice, and they did not begin the eviction process until the city began issuing blight fines.

“The company's long-term goal is to increase community home ownership by helping our tenants become homeowners,” the statement read. “Our team educates tenants on how to improve their credit and secure home financing. On a larger scale, Fortus is working with local and national lenders to increase lending to our market.

The company tried to contact the family for five months but did not receive a response, according to the statement. Now, the company wrote it is in contact with the evicted tenant and plans to let him and his family move back in as a tenant once the property is renovated.

Since the article, an online petition has been created requesting the University stop investing in “U of M’s investment in FDR is contrary to its public mission,” Batterman said. “In particular, to its efforts to play a positive role in the city of Detroit.”

Fulbright scholar Tom Logan made a call to action to the board about climate change. He said the University is home to world-class research about topics falling under the climate change umbrella, though he does not see equal action.

Climate change has been a topic of discussion on campus over the last semester. Ten demonstrators — including University students and minors — were arrested after the Climate Strike in March resulted in a sit-in at the Office of the President that ran beyond normal business hours. Climate activists have spoke about the University’s carbon neutrality plan and investments at numerous board meetings and campus events during the Winter 2019 semester.

“If we lead the way, other universities will follow,” Logan said. “Students like myself will take what we learn and experience here, and foster that in our hometowns, our home states, and our home countries.”