Med Center Health to provide on-campus health services


Michael Crimmins, Administration Reporter

Med Center Health will be taking the place of the on-campus Graves Gilbert Clinic before students return for the spring semester.

At the Board of Regents quarterly meeting, held on Dec. 8, both the health services contract and lease for Med Center were approved by unanimous votes to allow the center to occupy the same space in the Health Services Building currently held by Graves Gilbert Clinic.

The approval of the contract and lease did not come before a committee prior to being presented to the Board. 

This was done to provide “immediate action” so as not to leave students without healthcare due to Graves Gilbert leaving its on-campus location effective Dec. 9, Susan Howarth, Executive Vice President for Strategy, Operations and Finance, said during the meeting.

“I loathe to bring things to the full board before they go through committee,” WKU President Timothy Caboni said. “There are several action items you’ll see today that because of timing […] I thought it was important to get it in front of you quickly.”

In addition to the patient portal app and offering telemedicine visitations, the services provided by the Med Center will provide physical therapy to students and employees of WKU if needed, increase women’s health services and will also serve to strengthen the sports medicine programs, Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation, said during the meeting.

Also included among the numerous services is the addition of a mental health specialist that will be on campus everyday for half a day.

“What I’m most proud of is this is going to increase both women’s services  and also mental healthcare on campus,” Caboni said.

“That was a big part of the ask for us,” Tougas added.

Med Center Health said they are “excited to provide convenient and comprehensive primary care to the campus community through WKU Health Services.”

“We look forward to offering quality primary care services to everyone who is part of the WKU community,” JAT Mountjoy, Vice President of Physician Services at Med Center Health, said.

The process of crafting a request for proposals began in fall 2021 with American College Health Association consultants led by stakeholders, and the RFP was released the following spring, Tougas said.

“We had a lengthy process with outside counsel helping us craft an RFP that allows us to expand what we’re doing on this campus,” Caboni said. “The choice was because of what they’re able to do comprehensively…”

Tougas said the RFP process set the university up to be able to provide excellent health services.

“Regardless of who the vendor was that would be selected at the end of this process, the RFA process itself was positioning us to be in a better place providing student health services on campus,” Tougas said.

In the summer of 2022, there was a unanimous selection of the vendors, according to Tougas’ presentation.

“Med Center Health was the vendor the group selected and from all their strengths in their proposal they were most able to meet all the requirements of the RFP as a whole,” Tougas said.

Tougas said the university had assembled a joint advisory committee between them and Med Center Health. This committee was received well by Regent Chair Philip Bale who said it is important to examine the services from time to time.

“We created a joint committee…to make sure there’s constant communication between the university and our health care providers,” Tougas said. “To make sure we’re staying current with what the needs of the students are, how those needs are being addressed and providing those services to the student body.”

Current patients at the Health Services building can continue with their current Graves Gilbert providers at their new location, as well as transferring their records to the Med Center if they choose to switch, Tougas said. 

Also discussed at the meeting was the “approval of Health Services lease” to Med Center Health.

“The President requests that the Board authorize the University to enter into a long-term lease agreement with Med Center Health to provide health care services to the WKU community in the WKU Health Services building,” the agenda states.

The lease begins on Jan. 1, 2023 and continues for 10 years, unless terminated sooner by either party, according to the lease agreement. 

In the event of a termination of the lease, either through defaulting on payments or a “breach of the conditions of the lease,” WKU must give the Med Center 180 days’ notice of their intention “provided, however, any transition in healthcare services would occur prior to the fall or spring semesters.”

“That’s an unusually long time when it comes to contractual terms, however given the complexity of the services that are provided that is very important,” Tougas said.

The lease has an option for a one-time renewal for “an additional successive five year term.”

In 2014, the on-campus health services were outsourced to Graves Gilbert Clinic, in 2017 the WKU Health Services Building was leased to them “through a competitive bid process.”

Bale said this outsourcing of health services comparatively saves the university a lot of money.

“Prior to Graves Gilbert taking over the university ran it to the tune of losing over $1 million a year,” Bale said. “When that move was made, and now this move is made, everyone needs to realize that we’re saving a ton of money.”

Tougas said the university’s decision to select Med Center Health should not reflect on the quality of care provided by Graves Gilbert.

“I want to take a moment to thank Graves Gilbert for the work they’ve done, and the support they’ve given us through the years,” Tougas said. “Nothing about selecting Med Center Health going forward should reflect badly on what Graves Gilbert has done for us. They’ve been a very strong partner. It’s just, at this point in time, what we were asking for…Med Center Health  was able to meet that ask better.”

Administration reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected].