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Frequently Asked Questions OU Health Hospitals and OU Health Physicians Merger

A new era of health care is upon us as we recently announced our intent to merge into a truly integrated, comprehensive academic health system. We know this merger leads to a lot of questions and we are committed to answering them as more information becomes available. We will release answers to your most pressing questions as we go through the transition to Becoming We.

If you have additional questions, please send them to becomingwe@ouhealth.com. Questions will be reviewed by the appropriate workgroup and updated information will be added to this page when available.

Contact Emails

If you have any questions about your new OU Health benefits or the onboarding process, please contact one of the emails listed below.

  • Benefits: For questions related to topics such as plan coverage, eligibility, cost, years of service, enrollment, leave/absence, paid time off (PTO), disability, long term disability, etc., please contact Total Rewards at OURewards@onesourcevirtual.com
  • Compensation: For questions related to compensation, job title, pay grade, pay adjustments, premium pay, etc., please contact TotalRewards@OUHealth.com.
  • Employee Health: For questions related to Employee Health paperwork, immunization requirements or records and appointment rescheduling, please contact EmployeeHealth@OUHealth.com.
  • Human Resources: For questions related to Workday onboarding, ID badges, door and building access, Form I-9, etc., please contact Human Resources at HR@OUHealth.com.

If you have questions specific to your current OUHSC benefits, retirement, etc. or the transition of your benefits, please contact OUHSC Human Resources at 405-271-2180 or HR@ouhsc.edu.

OU Health Partners, Inc. and the Provider Transition

How are providers transitioning? Those who are currently providers will be transitioning after July 1 to ensure that the transition of our clinical practice to OU Health is intentional, purposeful and seamless. (Updated May 7)

I’m a credentialed provider but received the email that I am moving to OU Health, is that right? We are in the process of reviewing our lists to check for any errors that may have inadvertently occurred. If we do find that anyone received a notification in error, we will inform those people immediately. (Updated May 7)

Can you explain in detail how OU Health Partners will work?

OU Health Partners, Inc. is the business entity of OU Health Physicians. OU Health Partners, Inc. will operate under various DBA (‘Doing Business As’) identifiers, such as OU Health Physicians or OU Health Children’s Physicians. OU Health Partners, Inc. is a legal entity within OU Health and will be an Oklahoma not-for-profit.

Most of you are aware that within the new OU Health system, OU Health Partners, Inc. will be the new physician practice home and basically our faculty and credentialed providers practice. We have been working to find the balance and a way to maximize Physician empowerment. Transparency, involvement, and the better our physicians are informed and empowered, the better the outcomes for our patients. This is one of the reasons we chose OU Health Partners, Inc.

It is a partnership between all of our physicians, credentialed providers and system leaders, and within this partnership is where the best decisions will be made. This is a dyadic relationship, where physicians are working with the operational leadership throughout the health system to achieve great patient care, great patient satisfaction, excellent quality and safety.

Work to set up the structure of OU Health Partners, Inc. has been ongoing since March, and we are finalizing bylaws for this new entity. These bylaws define the relationship between OU Health Partners, Inc. (doing business as OU Health Physicians) with the OU Health system. OU Health Partners, Inc. is a new 501c3 faculty group practice, embedded within OU Health. It includes the physician practice and will have a governing board to oversee operations, policies and compensation and benefits of OU Health Physicians. This structure will help us achieve the goals and strategies for the practice as we continue to grow and expand.

We looked at other academic medical centers at how the faculty group practice - the physicians and providers - works with the health system to be integrated and focused on the outcome of quality care and patient experience. What we are doing reflects the type of path that is a tried and true model to other academic medical centers.

Through this new governance and leadership structure, we want to empower our physicians and providers to be able to do their work every day and conduct their day to day operations. Our physician leaders will be the exclusive provider enterprise for OU Health statewide. OU Health Partners, Inc. is a modern, incorporated, provider platform for a highly integrated health system. This is a structural path to our success. It will be dependent on others taking this structure, running with it and continuing to build our service lines to improve patient outcomes.

Once bylaws are complete, we will be able to provide more information to you. This information will be important for our faculty and we want to take the time to make thoughtful decisions and address everything correctly. The provider transition will be after July 1, and more specific information related to the provider timeline will be made available as it is finalized. We want to keep you all informed and share all necessary details with you in a timely manner. (Updated May 7)

As physicians and faculty, we currently have two incomes, our professor’s salary and our PPP (Professional Practice Plan) clinical pay. Will those two remain separate or will we receive one source of income? Faculty will have dual employment between OU Health and OU due to the fact that their roles are both clinical and academic in nature. Compensation for the academic portions such as teaching, education and research will come from OUHSC. Compensation for clinical portions will come from OU Health. Additional information about the unified and comprehensive compensation plan will be shared as details are finalized. (Updated April 8)

What do the faculty and research/academic aspects look like for this transition? The roles that will be transitioning to the new OU Health system are clinical and clinical support positions. It is an integrated clinical enterprise. For those individuals who have non-clinical, academic or research positions, they will continue working for the University of Oklahoma. In addition, our faculty will continue to hold dual roles in this new environment, both clinical and academic (teaching, education and research). They will hold dual employment with OU Health and with University of Oklahoma. Faculty appointments will remain unchanged. (Updated April 8)

Onboarding Process for Staff

If we are part of the merger would we have already been notified? All staff that are part of the July 1 transition have been notified. (Updated May 12)

How many staff are included in the merger effective July 1? The total number of staff included in the July 1 transition is about 1,500 individuals. (Updated May 12)

Will we receive a job offer letter from OU Health? Yes, there will be a confirmation letter digitally provided for transitioning employees to sign/acknowledge through Workday. (Updated May 7)

Will I receive a termination letter or get something that says I’m not being fired?Employees in scope of the transition will receive a letter stating that your position is transitioning to OU Health, but it is not a termination letter. It will state that your position with OU Health Physicians is ending and moving to OU Health. (Updated May 7)

Will we have to redo all of our mandatory training? Refreshed and/or additional training may be necessary to satisfy the regulatory requirements of OU Health due to certification by The Joint Commission. Employees will be notified of all required training modules. (Updated April 15)

What is The Joint Commission? The Joint Commission (TJC) is a regulatory body of accreditation for healthcare organizations, surveying both inpatient and outpatient care delivery. Accreditation by The Joint Commission is considered to be the gold standard and is utilized by the majority of healthcare organizations across the country. Accreditation by TJC also includes coaching and consultation to ensure that the right care is being given to the right patient in the right environment. (Updated April 15)

Will I get a new badge? Will I have to buy new scrubs? Everyone will need to have an OU Health employee ID badge. Dress code requirements are being addressed by workgroups and information will be provided as it becomes available. You will be able to continue to use your existing scrubs until further decisions have been made regarding this. There is planning and review happening around this right now. (Updated April 15)

I’m due to be on maternity leave at the time of the July 1 implementation, how will this affect me? It is important to know that we are looking at every fine detail and ensuring there are not disruptions in benefits or employment for employees transitioning from OU to OU Health. (Updated April 8)

When will our paychecks be transitioned to OU Health (what will be our final OUHSC paycheck)? July 16 will be the first OU Health paycheck. Pay periods between the two organizations are very similar and testing is in progress to ensure that payment schedules are not interrupted. (Updated May 7)

Will staff already leased at SCC have to re-do badging and drug testing etc.? Yes. SCC leased employees need to complete all onboarding tasks outlined for the transition except the urine drug screen. Leased employees did not complete the background check or employee health check during the leasing process. (Updated May 7)

Benefits

We see the benefits package for the in scope employees includes a 2 tier insurance program. Will this be a similar template for 2022 OUHSC employees? The HSC insurance structure is addressed by the Board of Regents and at this time there are no plans to review potential changes to the HSC insurance plans structure. (Updated May 12)

Can we see a side-by-side benefits and annual premiums comparison? We have provided a side-by-side benefits and annual premiums comparison grid for your reference as you go through the onboarding process. One guiding principal of this development process is to ensure that the total combined value of compensation and benefits is commensurate, or equal, to current offerings at OU Health Sciences Center. Though individual components may vary, including increases or decreases from current offerings, the sum total value of benefits and compensation is equivalent. Please click here to view the Benefits and Annual Premiums comparison.(Updated May 7)

What will happen to my current Flexible Spending Account (FSA)? The balance of your current FSA can be used through the end of 2021. Upon your start at OU Health, you will establish a new FSA if selected during benefits enrollment. The individual is not liable for funds already spent. (Updated May 7)

If I want to get a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), do I have to be enrolled in an OU Health insurance plan? The ability to elect an FSA is not directly tied to enrollment in any OU Health insurance plans. You can opt out of all other OU Health insurance plans and still have an FSA. (Updated May 7)

Will we be fully responsible for insurance payments or will there be some kind of credit? What is the employee responsible for? The majority of the benefits are paid by OU Health and a smaller percentage by the employee. OU Health and the employee share the cost for medical coverage. OU Health pays for Short Term Disability coverage, basic life and AD&D Insurance. Employee is responsible for dental and vision coverage and other voluntary benefits. (Updated May 7)

For staff currently out of office on short term disability, how should leaders direct them to proceed with onboarding? OU Health Sciences Center leadership is working to identify these individuals so that OU Health may mail information to them. (Updated May 7)

If a person is on FMLA, does that continue with or does that have to be redone? It will continue as long as the individual enrolls in OU Health benefits. All leave statuses will be captured by the University and shared with OU Health to ensure continuity. OU Health will honor FMLA already approved with current carrier. All new FMLA requests as of July 1, 2021 must be processed through OU Health’s carrier, The Hartford. (Updated May 7)

If someone has already received pre-authorization from their insurer for a medical procedure, will that carry over? Yes, the pre-authorization can be moved to the OU Health insurance plan. The employee must contact TotalRewards@OUHealth.com and request to move the preauthorization. (Updated May 7)

If an employee has been paying into the employee-paid short-term disability at the university, what will happen to that money? That University short term disability policy is portable. However, it may make financial sense to use OU Health short term disability, which is employer-paid. (Updated May 7)

Are medical, dental and vision insurance offered together in one plan? At OU Health, dental and vision insurance are separate plans from medical insurance. If employees want this coverage, they will be responsible for adding these options during benefits enrollment and pay the premiums. (Updated May 7)

What if I reach a years of service milestone, like my 5 year anniversary, soon after the transition? Will I be stuck with the benefits that were based on my 4 years of service at the time of the transition? For staff transitioning to OU Health, years of service milestones will be reached on the same timeline as they would have been reached at HSC. As you reach a service milestone, applicable benefits will adjust in accordance with your increased years of service. More information about benefit levels determined by years of service will be shared in the virtual benefits sessions. (Updated May 7)

Compensation

The collaborative Human Resources workgroup is focused on establishing benefits and compensation offerings for OU Health using national benchmark data. The goal of OU Health's benefits and compensation design is to establish a market competitive position and, in some cases, lead the market. Here are some important facts about benefits and compensation for those transitioning to OU Health.

Please click here to view the OU Health Compensation Adjustment Guide for the July 1 merger.

Please click here to view OU Health Compensation FAQs for the July 1 merger.

  • OU Health will invest at least $2.5M in additional compensation for the staff group transitioning on July 1 over the first year.
  • This investment represents an increase of approximately 4% in the aggregate compensation pool for transitioning staff.
  • The first adjustments will be for staff with compensation below the OU Health minimum level for their position and these adjustments will take effect in July. Staff receiving adjustments will be informed in the next couple of weeks.
  • A detailed individual-level review will be conducted to determine the most appropriate allocation of the remaining funds. This review will be conducted approximately midway through the first year after the human resources team has had an opportunity to consider factors such as relevant experience, performance, and supervisor input.

(Updated May 26)

Paid Time Off and Holidays

Can you provide a summary of what happens to the HSC PTO we have saved now? For staff in scope of the July 1 transition, their current HSC PTO balance will transfer in full to OU Health. This is now the only option for your current HSC PTO balance. (Updated May 12)

How are PTO and Holidays handled at OU Health?

  • At OUHSC, employees had both PTO and paid holidays, handled separately. At OU Health, those previously separate items are combined together into one PTO benefit. (Updated May 7)
  • OU Health does not have an across-the-board holiday closure schedule. For areas not responsible for 24/7 care, the department leader will decide if the office will be open or closed on a holiday. Should the office be closed, employees will be required to use PTO for that day. (Updated May 7)
  • To eventually equalize PTO for all employees of the new OU Health organization, over the next three years, PTO accrual rates will adjust (whether up or down) as necessary to land everyone at the 75th percentile in the market. (Updated May 7)
  • Details on PTO accrual rates and usage at OU Health can be found on page 2 and page 28 of the Benefits Guide that transitioning employees received via email on May 3. (Updated May 7)

Can you provide more information on exact PTO accrual rates for transitioning employees? Click here for the full guide on PTO accrual rates for transitioning staff as it adjusts over the next three years. (Updated May 28)

How does the OU Health PTO Cash Out policy work? Once employed by OU health, you will have the options to use it as normal or cash out according to policy. An exception is being made for transitioning staff only, in that from July 1, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2021, there will be the option to cash out a segment of your PTO (40 hours must be retained) at .90 on the dollar. All other provisions of the policy apply. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the cash out policy for transitioning staff will become the same as all other OU Health employees. This still allows an employee to cash out a segment of their PTO (while retaining 40 hours) but it will be at .75 on the dollar. (Updated May 17)

Is OU Health PTO earned on hours worked or paid? If you’re on vacation or holiday, will you earn PTO for those hours? PTO is earned on hours paid, up to 40 hours in a week (PTO does not accrue on overtime hours). For example, if an employee works 32 hours and takes 4 hours of PTO for a total of 36 hours paid that week, PTO would accrue on 36 hours. Another example: if an employee works 32 hours, takes 8 hours of PTO, then is called to work an extra 4 hours, the employee would accrue PTO on 40 hours (32 +8). (Updated May 17)

The OU Health benefits guide specifically states that employees cannot take leave within the first 90 days, does this apply to transitioning employees? The 90 day delay for using PTO is based upon the employee’s recognized hire date. For staff included in the July 1 transition, their hire date at OUHSC will be recognized as their hire date at OU Health, whether 6 months or 10 years ago. The 90 day delay will only affect employees who have an OUHSC start date after April 1, 2021. (Updated May 12)

What is the maximum PTO accrual amount at OU Health? The maximum PTO accrual amount for OU Health is equivalent to your total annual accrual. An employee cannot bank more than one year's worth of PTO. This varies by employee based on years of service and your role. Once the maximum threshold has been reached, accrual will cease until the employee has used PTO or has cashed it out according to policy and is once again under the maximum threshold. Annual accrual amounts can be found in the OU Health Benefits Guide. (Updated May 12)

What happens if an employee rolls over their current HSC PTO but that amount is higher than their OU Health annual accrual amount/PTO accrual maximum? Staff in scope of the transition will transfer the full balance of their current HSC PTO. If this amount is higher than their OU Health annual accrual amount/PTO accrual maximum, they will keep the total PTO they transferred, but staff will not accrue additional PTO until they have used enough hours to bring their PTO bank under the accrual limit. Once under the limit, staff will begin accruing PTO again. (Updated May 24)

Retirement

I still don’t understand what exactly will happen to my retirement funds if I’m not vested, in either OTRS or other options. Who can I contact to find out how to handle things? Staff should contact HR@ouhsc.edu for questions related to OTRS. They will provide answers as they are able or may direct you to contact OTRS for help with your specific questions. Due to the non-profit structure of OU Health, we are unable to utilize OTRS. We are also unable to create a defined benefits plan for use throughout retirement. (Updated May 7)

OTRS Options

  • As you transition to OU Health, you can choose to leave your current OTRS balance as is. Should you ever take a job in the future that is OTRS eligible, you would once again be able to utilize this account.
  • For those who are close to retirement, within 90 days, please contact HR@ouhealth.com for more information on how you may complete your retirement prior to your transfer to OU Health.
  • If you are within the first 5-7 of your OTRS contributions and choose to not leave your balance in OTRS, you will receive back your employee contributions without interest.
  • TRS of Oklahoma is mandated by state law and is state defined. This resource is available for state employees. If your position is transitioning from OU Health Physicians (a state agency) to OU Health (a not-for-profit), this resource will no longer be an option moving forward. Your money will remain in that account, if you like, or you can roll it into a private/individual retirement account. You can also withdraw, but only the portion that is your contribution. Please note that if you withdraw early, you will be taxed. Please speak with TRS for more clarification at 405.521.2387 or 877.738.6365 or email: mail@trs.ok.gov

Other Retirement Options

  • In the new OU Health, there is a one-time defined contribution to your retirement plan.
  • Prior to the transition, OU will amend its 401(a) plan to accelerate vesting for transition staff such that they become 100% vested regardless of length of service.

Will early retirement be offered to people who are within 5-10 years of retirement?

Most unique transition benefits have been created for the 1-3 year time frame from the effective date of July 1. No additional options were able to be created for those within 5-10 years of University retirement. Please see the benefits guide for retirement and 401K options offered by OU Health or get in touch with the appropriate Human Resources teams if you have additional questions. They can be reached at HR@OUHealth.com or HR@ouhsc.edu(Updated May 12)

What about the hours I have banked for Extended Sick Leave (ESL)? All ESL hours remaining at the time of transition will be forfeited according to University policy. The balance of your extended leave hours can be used to purchase time in Teachers Retirement System (TRS) if you are a member. Staff must contact TRS to initiate that process. (Updated May 7)

Years of Service

If an employee has voluntarily changed employment back and forth between entities (example: 3 years HCA, 4 years OUHSC, 1 year OUMI, 2 years HSC) will their total years of service (example: 10 years) at an OU healthcare organization be honored? Years of service at an OU healthcare entity would be honored as long as there aren’t any breaks in service. Please see detailed breakdown below. (Updated May 17)

1. OU Health will recognize continuous years of service on campus, meaning there have been no breaks in service between OU, OU Medicine, Inc. or HCA for:

  • Employees transitioning employment from OU to OU Health; and
  • Current OUMI employees.

2. Employees will not receive retroactive credit for PTO, 401(k) match, or any other fringe benefit upon which years of service is applicable.

3. Employment records on file with OU and OUMI will be used to determine years of service.

  • If an employee believes their service record is inaccurate, they may submit proof of prior employment to OU Health HR. Details of the request process are forthcoming.
  • Changes to years of service will be effective on the date in which the employee-submitted record is validated by OU Health HR.

4. These terms will be effective on July 1, 2021.

Tuition Benefits

I understand that staff can still receive a tuition reimbursement, but what about dependent tuition waivers?

  • OU Health will provide dependent tuition benefits for full-time (at least .75 FTE or 30-hour work week) OUP/OUHSC transitioning staff in scope of the July 1 merger with at least four years of continuous service as of 7/1/21. Transitioning staff with less than four years of continuous service as of 7/1/2021 will not be eligible for the dependent tuition benefit through OU Health. (Updated June 11)
  • An eligible dependent is defined as any biological child, legally adopted child or stepchild who is under the age of 26 as of the date of the application for each benefit period. (Updated June 11)
  • The benefit will only be applicable to eligible dependents who enroll within the next four years (i.e., beginning the fall 2025 semester or before). (Updated June 11)
  • Dependent must be a degree-seeking full-time student in a program of study leading to their first baccalaureate (undergraduate) degree. (Updated June 11)
  • Dependent must maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the Office of Financial Aid to continue receiving the benefit. (Updated June 11)
  • Enrollment on a health plan offered by OU Health is not required for eligible staff to receive the dependent tuition benefit. (Updated June 11)
  • OU Health will fund the benefit as opposed to OU granting a tuition waiver. As such, and in accordance with IRS regulations, the employee will be responsible for appropriate taxes for this benefit. Please contact OU Health Total Rewards for details.(Updated June 11)
  • The benefit will not be extended to existing OUMI staff or those hired by OU Health in the future. (Updated June 11)

Do I have to be enrolled in an OU Health insurance plan to get the employee tuition reimbursement? No, approval to receive employee tuition reimbursement is not tied to enrollment in a health insurance plan. (Updated May 7)

I am also a student at OUHSC and my summer classes will occur in June and July. I have already been approved under the tuition waiver for the summer, but will it only cover half? Do I have to switch to the OU Health tuition reimbursement in July? If the University has already approved you for the summer class session, the entirety of that session is covered by the waiver. OU Health tuition reimbursement will be applicable for the fall semester. (Updated May 7)

Is the OU Health employee tuition reimbursement program good for any university or is it only OU? The OU Health employee tuition reimbursement program can be used for job-related courses and undergraduate degree programs at most accredited colleges and universities, provided the employee meets the appropriate approval and documentation requirements. These are outlined in the benefits guide provided via email on Monday, May 3. (Updated May 7)

Operations

Will employees report to different leaders after July 1? The reporting structure for staff, supervisors and managers reporting to Directors in the organization will not change. The organizational structure, and subsequent unification process, for those above the Director level will be forthcoming. (Updated May 7)

Will my office be moving buildings? We are bringing together two areas. At this time, your office is your office. This will remain the same after the transition on July 1. Relocation of your workspace may occur in the future as structure and positions are determined. (Updated April 8)

Will we consolidate to one HR system, like Workday or PeopleSoft? OU Health and its employees will utilize Workday, an enterprise management system with functionality in categories such as employee benefits management, finance, supply chain management and more. A recent investment in Workday has allowed more functionality that will provide even larger benefit for the OU Health enterprise. OU Health Sciences Center will continue to utilize PeopleSoft. (Updated April 15)

Will this impact service line structures? There will be no major changes in terms of service lines. The merger changes employment structures for a unified employment and management infrastructure. Patient care between the clinics and hospitals becomes seamless as a result of this merger, improving overall quality of care and enabling us to more effectively develop innovative patient care programs across the entire patient experience. This change is about a service line having a team of professionals that can see and track all measures, such as quality, patient experience, operational deliverables, finances and more. (Updated April 15)

Will the policies for OU Health Physicians and the hospitals be reviewed and merged to remove duplicates and become aligned? Yes. These tools will become better. This alignment will improve all processes related to patient care and internal operations. A review of operations and policies is already in progress and will continue for the purpose of removing duplicates and aligning processes. (Updated April 15)

Will we have to contract with all insurance carriers under the new OU Health name? With the merger, OU Health will contract with payers as OU Health. We plan to contract with most, if not all, the prominent plans in the state. Our promise and commitment is to the patients and providing full scope of services, so contracting as OU Health helps us reduce unnecessary utilization and create value. (Updated April 15)

What will we use as a time clock system? Will salaried employees have to clock in and out? There will be a time clock system that will allow you to clock in from your desktop or from time clocks in buildings. The current policy is that you don’t use a time clock as a salaried employee, but there could be cases where that might change. We are working through and will provide more clarification soon. Medical Directors, physicians and various roles are used to filling out timesheets, but we are working on minimizing this so that you can focus more on your work. Technology is helping us become more efficient in this area. (Updated April 15)

What do we do with contracts that are currently in process with OU Health Physicians and active contracts with the colleges? Contracting and contract transitions are part of a workgroup to determine the timeline of contract transfer. If you have questions regarding a specific contract, please notify your business administrator and they will be able to assist. (Updated April 8)

Will someone who works in an outpatient clinic be expected to float to an inpatient role if needed? We will look at our health system as one unified team. Clinical positions that have 24/7 responsibilities are classified differently than positions that have standard business hours tied to the position. We want employees to work in roles they are qualified for and capable of succeeding in. No one will be forced into a role that they are unable, unqualified or not interested in taking. Team members who are interested in working in the inpatient setting as a PRN, part-time or full-time will have the opportunity to go through the employment process to be considered for an inpatient schedule. (Updated April 8)

We are currently trying to fill positions as well as recruit for new ones, how do we handle this when we don’t know details of the merger? All recruitment will be coordinated through an open position review process. Jed and Anne meet twice a week to review the open positions. We are working together in a thoughtful and unified way to make certain that each role is filled by the most qualified and appropriate candidate. (Updated April 8)

Information Technology

Will IT for OU Health be unified? IT is a major focus on the path to Becoming We. A combined IT executive committee has been active for two years, working together to make IT related decisions. These projects and initiatives can be very complicated, with many moving parts, but we are working diligently towards the end goal of making everything simple for the user. (Updated April 8)

Will we be able to keep our current email addresses for the purpose of being able to receive forwarded mail from them? There is a detailed plan under progress pertaining to an email transition. One aspect of this is ensuring that emails transition to the new OU Health email system. The transition will be completed in phases in order to not lose important documents and email communications. (Updated April 8)

How will we change to an @OUHealth.com email address? Will my email just be different one day? Will it mess up access to accounts where I use my email address? New @OUHealth.com email addresses will be rolled out in a phased process designed to ensure that employees can continue to operate as needed to complete their daily tasks. More information will be shared prior to the email change. (Updated May 7)

Parking

Will our parking situation change? OU Health will cover parking expenses for transtitioning staff. For the July 1 transition, your parking will remain the same. Employees will be notified if at any time changes are required to their parking situation. (Updated May 12)

Miscellaneous Questions

Do we know yet how to navigate grant/contract-funded employees identified for transition whose grants/contracts will not allow funding through an entity such as OU Health? These situations are being reviewed on a case by case basis to determine what is required by the terms of the grant or contract funding. (Updated May 12)

Is there a shareable metric or criteria used to determine which current non-clinical COM staff (who are also not OUP/OUMI staff) were “in-scope” for the transition to OU Health? Determining inclusion in the July 1 transition is dependent upon the individual's role and function as well as the support, or funding, for their role. There is not one defined metric but every role has been closely reviewed to determine if it should be included in the transition. (Updated May 12)

Will there be any changes to department issued cell phone plans? Continuity of cell phone usage is a top priority and is being reviewed to ensure minimal impact to the employee. (Updated May 7)

What further branding will evolve with this merger? In October of 2020 we launched OU Health, our identity as a combined and comprehensive academic health system. Our identity as OU Health, including the current various sub-brands of our hospitals, physician practices and centers of excellence, will not change. This merger will provide greater opportunities to optimize investments across the enterprise and align strategic planning initiatives. The unification of our brand identity allows us to follow through on our promise to our patients and provide a seamless patient care experience. In addition, there are very intentional processes in place related to managing our brand and providing clarity to the public about who we are. (Updated April 15)

Will OU Health be a non-profit company? OU Health will be a local Oklahoma non-profit as will OU Health Physicians as OU Health. (Updated April 8)

Will the merger impact any of our designations or accreditations, such as our Level 1 Trauma Center, National Cancer Institute Designation, Certified Stroke Center, etc? This merger does not change any current certifications, but rather enhances their long-term strength as we become a unified academic health system. (Updated April 8)

Will this affect eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program? OU Health will be a non-profit so crediting this service to your overall years of non-profit and public service is recognized by the federal government. As a part of OU Health, you would continue to qualify for these programs. (Updated April 8)

Will there still be funding for travel, conferences and dining? Poster presentations, conference and business travel are an important aspect of any academic health system and as these begin to open up as the COVID-19 threat diminishes, business travel like this will resume. (Updated April 8)

I have two jobs, one at OU Medicine, Inc. and one at OU Health Physicians. Will the merger affect me having two positions? You will now have single employment through OU Health but if you have been working as a PRN within one of the two organizations to earn extra income, you would still be eligible to continue that PRN work providing that the PRN work is still needed post-merger. (Updated April 8)

Will this help at all with the BCBS issues – OU Health Physicians being out of network for employees? University leaders have been working diligently to resolve the BCBS contract issues. We have made a firm commitment to our employees that they will continue to have access to OU Health Physicians. The negotiations are extremely important across the board for our own enterprise and for Blue Cross Blue Shield, with whom we have had a longstanding partnership. We are still in active conversation and recognize the importance of this not only to us but also to the state of Oklahoma. In the long run, the merger will have a positive effect in this situation. Both the inpatient and outpatient components are essential elements to care that must work in tandem to ensure continuity of patient care. It benefits both us and our insurance partners to make sure those pieces are all in place to work together. We will update you when we are able to discuss the progress and plans. (Updated April 8)

Unified Leadership Structure

Are we OU Health, OU Medicine, Inc. or OU Physicians? OU Health is the combination of OU Physicians and OU Medicine, Inc. We will become a truly integrated, comprehensive academic health system on July 1 as a result of this merger. This means that we will be an organization that is not focused on clinics and hospitals as stand-alone groups, but a health system that is organized to follow the journey of our patients across the care continuum. We know that it is a journey to “becoming we” but, in the end, we are all OU Health. (Updated March 15)

What we’ve historically known as OUMI, a 501C3 that was created to leave the HCA relationship. And now OUMI is being reconfigured into a health system, which needs new bylaws, reserve powers and structures. Is that a fair summary? The move away from HCA with the creation of OUMI was really the first time the University had a good, meaningful seat at the table on the operations of the hospitals. The OUMI board was created to have ⅓ of the members be from the University, ⅓ from the Trust and ⅓ from the community. Together, these last few years, we’ve weathered some major challenges, and the sentiment of the board is that if we can consolidate the clinical practice with the hospital practice we will be in even better shape to weather future challenges that may come our way. This also allow us to move ourselves into the future and become a top tier academic health center nationally. (Updated May 21)

How will OU fit into the new structure? Historically, there have been interactions among various leaders across the campus in different scenarios, but now OU Health puts them all in the same room to talk about these major items. Oversight traditionally belonging to the Board of Regents will be delegated to University representatives on the OU Health board. The Trust will also have its own representatives on the board. Both groups are highly committed to maintaining a balanced board structure. Employees are looking to our governance and leadership for structure so they can succeed and have stability, and we want to reassure everyone that stability is our goal. We maintain a local and visible board who cares deeply about the success of this campus and we are excited about all the new things that we can do and our future as a top academic system center in our country. (Updated May 21)

How are missions of the Trust, OU Medicine, Inc. and the Health Sciences Center aligned and moving forward together?

  • The mission of the Trust is to advance excellence in medical research, education and care.
  • The mission of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is to educate students, residents and other trainees in professional and graduate programs to become Oklahoma’s future team of healthcare leaders, clinicians, researchers, and educators; to advance distinctive basic, translational, clinical, and population research; to innovate and commercialize discoveries; and to deliver exceptional patient care across the full breadth of adult, women’s, and children’s specialties.
  • The mission of OU Medicine, Inc., is Leading health care – in patient care, education and research.

Although worded slightly differently, all three groups seek to provide positive patient outcomes through excellent patient care, research advancements and hands-on academic programs. (Updated May 21)

I’m hoping to better understand the Board structure. Will the OU Medicine, Inc. Board of Directors dissolve as part of the merger or transition to the OU Health Board of Directors? Or will the OU Medicine, Inc. Board remain as is and report to the OU Health Board? OU Health will have a health system board of directors that governs the entire health system. The OU Medicine, Inc. board was and is a hospital board and will no longer exist once the merger is complete. The OU Medicine, Inc. board as we know it is transitioning and changing to become the OU Health board for the entire health system. This board will operate differently through health system bylaws, voting procedures and delegated powers from the OU Board of Regents and UHAT. The governance structure of OU Health will be composed of boards and operating councils and committees, and all are ultimately accountable to the OU Health governing board. OU Health Partners, Inc. will “do business as” OU Health Physicians. It will be an entity within the new OU Health system and will have a board with certain delegated authority from OU Health and bylaws. This is in alignment with other high performing academic health systems across the country. (Updated April 15)

How will leadership roles be determined? A national search will be conducted for the OU Health Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Physician Executive, and the Chief Operating Officer. The selection of the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Physician Executive will be subject to approval of the OU Health Board of Directors. The CEO will select the Chief Operating Officer with input and oversight from the OU Health Board of Directors.

A search committee for the CEO has been formed to support the Board of Directors with the vetting and selection process. The members of the CEO search committee are as follows:

  • Dr. Pamela Allen, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Dermatology
  • Randy Dowell, CEO of University Hospital Authority and Trust
  • Chip Keating, Board Director of OU Medicine, Inc.
  • Dr. Lynn Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer of OU Health Physicians
  • Dr. Jason Sanders, Senior Vice President and Provost of OU Health Sciences Center
  • Dr. John Zubialde, Executive Dean of the OU College of Medicine and President of OU Health Physicians

The selection of other leadership will be led by the OU Health Chief Executive Officer, with input and oversight by the OU Health Board of Directors. (Updated March 8)

If there is intention to have a new CEO, does that mean the organizational structure will also change once that person is in place? The new OU Health organizational structure will become effective on July 1, 2021 regardless of actual date the Chief Executive Officer is hired. Interim candidates may fill leadership positions if the search for permanent candidates extends beyond July 1, 2021. (Updated March 8)

Is there a leadership continuity plan? Continuity plans will be developed on a case-by-case basis. Existing leadership (including any individuals who do not transition to leadership roles in OU Health) will help ensure a smooth onboarding process for new recruits. (Updated March 8)

What does the organizational structure look like? OU Health will be led by the Chief Executive Officer, who will be responsible for overseeing and directing the business activities of the integrated academic health system in close collaboration with the OU Health Board of Directors and executive team. The Chief Executive Officer’s direct reports will include the Chief Operating Officer as the business lead and the Chief Physician Executive as the clinical lead. Other leadership roles of other functions are to be determined.

OU Health will be structured as four divisions: adult health, children’s health, cancer health, and primary care/community health. Each division will have a dyad leadership structure comprised of a physician executive lead and a business executive lead. Physician executives will report to the Chief Physician Executive and business leaders will report to the Chief Operating Officer. The Chief Physician Executive will concurrently serve as President of OU Health Physicians and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. (Updated March 8)

How were the executive positions and span/scope determined? Positions and job descriptions are under development using best practices from high performing academic health systems. The Chief Executive Officer and other executive leadership position job descriptions, which outline reporting relationships and primary responsibilities, were drafted by the coordination committee and approved by the steering committee. Examples from peer organizations were referenced in the drafting of the descriptions and refined to ensure the individual is well qualified to lead a new integrated academic health system. (Updated March 8)

How will the positions below these roles be determined? Positions at the director level and above are anticipated to be selected by the OU Health Chief Executive Officer and senior leadership team. The leads of each functional area will have discretion to select the other levels of staff, subject to oversight and approval from the OU Health Chief Executive Officer. (Updated March 8)

Are individuals from outside of the College of Medicine and OU Medicine, Inc. able to apply to roles? Although external candidates may be selected for these positions, it is anticipated that the majority will be filled by existing OU and OUMI employees. (Updated March 8)

New CEO Position and National Search Process

Could you provide a status update on the CEO Search?

  • On Monday, May 24, the OU Health CEO Search Committee will participate in unconscious bias training provided by the University of Oklahoma.
  • On Tuesday, May 25, the committee will review the resumes of OU Health CEO candidates who have applied for the position.
  • The Search Committee has some exciting candidates, a good depth and breadth of individuals to consider - from different backgrounds, all from academic health systems, experience in children’s and adult hospitals, varying roles, etc. The committee will go through these resumes with the plan to set up first round interviews that will begin the first week of June. This first round will be done via Zoom. Then, the committee will narrow this field of candidates down to a small handful to bring to Oklahoma for in-person meetings, tours of the campus and to meet with other campus leaders so that they can get a feel for the depth and breadth of services provided here. The committee wants to get some feedback from other campus leaders outside of the search committee. The committee expects these visits to happen at the end of June. (Updated May 21)

How was the new CEO position determined? The Trust and the University agreed on creating a new role in this new structure of building a health system, unifying hospitals and care delivered in our ambulatory settings. The description of this CEO position is based on similar positions in our peer academic health systems. The search committee values candidates who understand the plan for unification and why we believe it will benefit our organization long into the future. A search committee for the CEO has been formed to support the Board of Directors with the vetting and selection process. We have the ECG Principal Advisor, Chris Collins, who will also be present with the search committee as a facilitator. He will help answer questions from the committee and go back to our search/position descriptions to make sure the committee understands what we have designed and how candidates can be successful. (Updated May 21)

What were the deciding factors in creating a new CEO position for the enterprise? The OU Health Board of Directors will select a Chief Executive Officer who is best qualified to lead the development and execution of OU Health’s strategic plan, and ensure that OU Health delivers on its vision to be the premier health system in Oklahoma and a top-tier academic health system leader nationally. The individual will be a collaborative leader with demonstrated experience aligning hospitals and physicians. (Updated March 8)

Why isn’t there an Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, Nursing or other health discipline representation on the National CEO Search Committee? We prioritized the diversity and inclusiveness of the committee. The search committee is made up of a variety of individuals who are representing many facets of the organization and have broad experience across the enterprise. We shared these previously when we announced the merger. This is a significant commitment by the Hospital Authority & Trust and the University to have shared governance at the board level, so it was important to have their representation on the search committee to ensure the process proceed expeditiously and ensure the governance will work with the new OU Health CEO, when selected, and the OU Health leadership team. It is always a challenge to determine who will serve on search committees. The search committee will not be the only component of the search. The search will encompass many areas of our enterprise and our community and the feedback from other groups will be provided to the search committee. As we go through the process, we will have opportunities for other individuals across the enterprise to interact confidentially with candidates to ask questions. If you do have any questions for the search committee, please submit those to BecomingWe@OUhealth.com. (Updated April 8)

University Hospitals Authority and Trust

Can you share an overview of what the Trust is and what it does? The University Hospitals have been in existence on this campus since 1917. The University Hospitals Authority was created in 1993 to assume management of the hospitals from the Department of Human Services. The University Hospitals Trust was formed in 1997 as part of an historic agreement that united the state, a private corporation and the University of Oklahoma in a partnership many credit with moving health care in Oklahoma toward world-class status. University Hospitals Authority and Trust, collectively known as UHAT or The Trust, devote their resources to a variety of projects on campus. The Trust provides over $300 million annually to OU and OU Health to further our mission to be a catalyst for medical excellence, to support medical education and research, and to help assure quality health care for all Oklahomans. Since 1998, the Trust has invested almost $1 billion dollars in a wide range of projects and programs in support of improved health for all Oklahomans. (Updated May 21)

How will the University Hospital Authority & Trust (UHAT) fit into the new structure?The Trust will primarily be participating in a governance role. The University Hospitals Trust will have one-third representation on the board and the University will have one-third. Together they will jointly select the remaining one-third of the board through a nomination process. The Trust will continue on as a building owner and facilities manager on our campus and focus on legislative issues for the betterment of health for all Oklahomans. (Updated May 21)

What buildings or signage is the Trust specifically responsible for? UHAT is the owner and operator of the: OU Physicians Building, OU Children’s Physicians Building, Children’s Hospital Atrium, Samis Education Center, Andrews Academic Tower, Garrison Tower, Nicholson Tower, Bielstein Tower and Oklahoma Transplant Center. UHAT is the owner of Children’s Hospital which is leased to OUH for $1 as part of our joint operating agreement as well as Williams Pavilion, O’Donohue Research Center, Child Study Center, and many of the garages and surface lots on campus which have been leased to OUHSC for $1. OU Health and OUHSC maintain these properties as part of the lease agreement. The savings on these leases are utilized to fund education, research and other critical programs in our organizations. The Trust is also responsible for much of the external signage on campus. (Updated May 21)

Can you provide a big picture look at the impact the work of the Trust has had on our campus? UHAT has provided support for important educational enhancements, key research and health care advancements and for critical capital improvement projects on the Health Sciences Center campus, including the Andrews Academic Tower, Samis Education Center and more. Through projects like these and through UHAT’s leadership, state and federal resources are maximized to ensure a dependable source of revenue for growth, development and a healthier tomorrow for all Oklahomans. (Updated May 21)

What is OneCall? OneCall is the facilities maintenance team for Trust owned buildings. (Updated May 21)

Chief Transition Officer and Transition Structure

Can you give us an overview of how the Coordinating Committee works, so we can understand why some decisions have been made throughout this process? The primary role of the Coordinating Committee is to understand the front lines, our people and the complexities of our work group, then synthesize that and make recommendations to the Integration Steering Committee. The Coordinating Committee also vets questions from the steering committee. The Coordinating Committee consists of leadership from both the Trust and the University and works closely with ECG, the consulting group that is aiding the organization through the merger process. ECG seeks input and guidance from the Coordinating Committee to help steer the discussion and work product of the various OUH transition work groups such as finance, human resources, legal and operations. These groups work together according to a framework that was established last year. As questions come up in those work groups, our ECG project coordinator, Dan Harrison, works with the committee to keep things at the work groups within the terms of that framework. That work product is vetted by the Coordinating Committee prior to being submitted to the Integration Steering Committee. The Steering Committee consists of President Harroz; Mike Holly, regent; Rainey Williams, chair of the Trust Board; and Chip Keating, secretary of the Trust Board. They make the final decision on the bylaws, provide approval of the Performa, etc., and make recommendations to the OU Health Board, once it’s constituted. (Updated May 21)

What is the role of the Chief Transition Officer and who is doing that job? Dan Harrison with ECG will serve as our Chief Transition Officer (CTO) and will be working with our enterprise in a full-time capacity to ensure there is a smooth transition in operationalizing the merger. The CTO will report directly to the Steering Committee and Coordination Committee and will meet regularly with leadership regarding the details of the transition. For several months, Dan has been coordinating several work streams across the enterprise with leadership collaboration between OUHSC and OUMI leaders. Work streams encompassing human resources, operations, finance, legal, IT and communications will continue to meet as Dan coordinates and leads the day-to-day transition. Dan has been working with our executive leaders in developing the OU Health organization and brings not only a breadth and depth of experience to the transformation that is underway, but he has become a trusted colleague across the enterprise. You can read more about Dan by visiting Dan Harrison - ECG Management Consultants (ecgmc.com) If you have specific questions for Dan, you can email becomingwe@ouhealth.com with his name in the subject line.

What is the overall transition process structure? A transitional structure has been established for key areas of the new OU Health. Dan will lead these areas with their transition work while other leadership will lead the day-to-day aspects of the organization and work with Dan on the transition. OU Health is formally establishing OU Health Human Resources, OU Health Finance and OU Health IT. Transition offices will report to Dan on transition items only while continuing to report to their existing leaders on day-to-day items.

Transition Questions

How was it decided which roles would transition and which wouldn’t? The goal of the OU Health transition is to unify clinical operations. Leadership in OU Physicians and the College of Medicine has reviewed staff roles to understand the time spent on clinical, educational and research activities. In general, we are moving clinical activities and the people who complete those activities into OU Health. The unification of clinical operations allows us to properly focus on our research and academic missions as well. The unification increases IT infrastructure for our clinical delivery which subsequently provides us with the data that is crucial to research taking place within our organization. This is important to the future goal of creating a research institute model within the OU Health Sciences Center. By clearly defining administrative support for clinical operations, we are also able to clearly define what administrative support looks like for research and academic operation. This ensures that all three groups receive the administrative support they need to operate smoothly. (Updated May 7)

I noticed that most of the FAQs are directed towards OUHSC employees transitioning to OU Health. How are current OU Medicine, Inc. employees impacted by this? At this time, changes will occur for some of our OU College of Medicine employees and our OU Health Physicians employees. These are employees in clinical and clinical support roles who will be transitioning to OU Health. They will combine their clinical expertise with our hospital teams and hospital support staff as we continue to grow together as OU Health. (Updated April 15)

Is my job changing or being eliminated? Specific positions in the new OU Health have not yet been decided. We do know that our new health system will need many of the roles we have today like nursing, patient service representatives, billing office, medical technicians, allied health professionals, human resources, facilities, housekeeping, sterile processing, contracting and much more. (Updated March 15)

Are my healthcare benefits changing? The OU Health benefits plan is under review and there will be upcoming benefits seminars beginning in April for employees to review in detail. Employees that are benefits-eligible now would remain benefits-eligible in the new OU Health unless they elect to change their benefits-eligibility status. (Updated March 15)

Do I have the option to remain employed with OU? Employees whose primary role is to support the clinical enterprise will generally transition employment to OU Health and those who support research and education will generally remain with OU. Each employee’s role will be evaluated by the planning groups to determine if the position will transition employment to OU Health. (Updated March 15)

If my position is technically being eliminated at OU, am I guaranteed a job in the OU Health organization? We are merging current positions across OU Health Physicians in Oklahoma City, OU College of Medicine and OU Medicine, Inc. into a new OU Health. We are Becoming We as part of something new. Leadership has identified clinical positions from OU Health Physicians in Oklahoma City and OU College of Medicine that will be very straightforward in mapping to our OU Health organization. These are direct patient care and patient care support roles. We are growing and know that our new health system will need many roles within it including nurses, clinic staff, patient service representatives, environmental services, dietary, scheduling, billing, IT and much more. This is an opportunity for all of us to showcase our talents and harness the talent of ourselves and our teams. Reductions in staffing may occur in select areas where there is significant duplication of roles or responsibilities. Any employee impacted by integration-related reductions in force will have an opportunity to apply for future job postings within OU Health/OU Health Physicians. OU Health Physicians and OU Medicine are currently two complementary groups and there are not a lot of areas of redundancy or duplication, although there are some. The most qualified employees of OU Health Physicians and OU Medicine will be selected for employment within OU Health. (Updated March 15)

If I am an OU employee, I am on a J-1 Visa, how will this change impact my status if I am moving to OU Health? There is a work group currently evaluating visas and will work to ensure that there is no change in visa status and that if there is any transition of sponsorship, that it is a smooth transition. As details are determined, individuals with a visa will receive direct communication from human resources. (Updated March 8)

Are all positions moving to the hospital? It is important to remember that this is not about hospitals or clinics, this is about becoming a fully integrated academic health system - Becoming We. Our clinical positions will be within OU Health, which will be an integrated comprehensive academic health system made up of clinics and hospitals. Positions are not moving to the hospital, they are moving to our new health system. (Updated April 8)

Why have some of the questions submitted not yet been answered? We have received multiple questions about this. The questions we haven’t been able to answer yet have to do with pay and benefits. We know these are important and we want to make sure we have worked out the details before we begin answering them. Last April, we committed to a four-phase integration project timeline. Phase two was in the fall of 2020, and the discussion of benefits was part of that. The benefits offered by OU Health Physicians, OU College of Medicine and OU Medicine are very different at the moment. We are now in Phase three of this project, working on finalizing the OU Health legal agreements. We are now revisiting what benefits will look like for those employees who will be transitioning to OU Health. Medical, Dental and Vision benefits are an easy decision. The more difficult benefits decisions that are taking us a little more time to work through are retirement and paid time off, because these are currently so different across all the various entities. We know we need to give you the best solution, so we are meeting with our legal counsels and involved groups for advice and for all the options we can offer you based on where you are at today and where we are going. The week of April 19, we will be holding leader meetings regarding the merger and the week of April 26 we will hold town halls for employees across the enterprise, particularly our clinical employees, to talk more about the questions we haven’t been able to answer yet. (Updated April 15)

OUHSC Faculty Practices Outside of College of Medicine

How will the merger affect other Health Sciences Center entities, like the colleges, research, OU Health Physicians Tulsa, etc? OU Health unifies our clinical operations and the patient experience. The process begins with OU Medicine, Inc. OU Health Physicians in Oklahoma City and some individuals within the College of Medicine that serve in predominantly clinical roles. The full capabilities of HSC will continue to work in partnership with OU Health as we have before, with the addition of new opportunities. OU Health Physicians Tulsa will be affiliated with OU Health with the future opportunity to determine what is best when building our statewide network. We have made a commitment to implement the same infrastructure in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City and these efforts are led by a combined group. In terms of other clinical programs within the colleges, affiliation will remain the same as it is today. This provides future opportunities for faculty in those colleges to be a part of OU Health on a contractual basis to provide services. As we unify our clinical operations, it makes it easier for the Health Sciences Center to focus on growing our research and training programs. Inclusion in an academic health system gives us a completive advantage to recruit the best faculty as well as our own trainees into a career at OU Health. (Updated April 8)

Are other colleges included in the integration? The clinical operations of the OU College of Medicine will transition to OU Health on July 1, 2021. Discussions will be conducted with other colleges including OU Tulsa School of Community Medicine, OU College of Pharmacy, OU College of Nursing, OU College of Dentistry, and OU College of Allied Health to determine the scope and timing of their relationship with OU Health. (Updated March 8)

Will OU Health provide OU with funding to accelerate education and research? A performance-based mission support model will be defined in the revised master affiliation agreement. This funding will ensure alignment of the strategic aims of the organizations and provide needed funding streams from the clinical enterprise. (Updated March 8)

Does this move have potential to jeopardize my NIH funding, grants, etc.? Research operations will remain with OU and there is no anticipated adverse impact on NIH funding or grants. The formation of OU Health will enhance the national reputation of the collective enterprise and may lead to additional funding for research through donations and grants. (Updated March 8)

Financials

What are the financial benefits? Consistent with high-performing systems nationally, OU Health, as an integrated academic health system, will be designed to have a streamlined decision-making construct and full authority and responsibility over all financial, strategic, and operational aspects of healthcare delivery. OU Health will, through its design and operations, minimize any duplicative infrastructure and adopt an efficient shared services model across the clinical enterprise (hospitals, clinics, and employed practices). Financial and operational decisions will be made in the interest of the integrated academic health system as a whole, rather than independent units/entities. (Updated March 8)