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Rocky Vista responds to Billings Clinic statement on ending talks

Rocky Vista responds to Billings Clinic statement on ending talks

The following is the statement in full from Billings Clinic Wednesday:

Billings Clinic has decided to end conversations with Medforth Global Healthcare Education related to Medforth’s plan to open a medical school in Billings. Medforth is a private equity firm based in New York, NY, that owns Rocky Vista University (RVU), a private, for-profit osteopathic medical school.  RVU has campus locations in Parker, Colorado and Ivins, Utah.

Medical education is a cornerstone of Billings Clinic’s mission and Billings Clinic had been in early stages of reviewing the opportunity with our physicians and others about the feasibility of expanding teaching for additional medical students during their clinical rotations.  We have been concerned about ensuring continuity of our existing priority educational collaborations with the Montana medical school track of WWAMI, Rocky Mountain College, the University of Montana, Montana State University, Montana State University Billings and many others.  Additionally, we have a strong commitment to Billings Clinic’s Internal Medicine Residency program, the partnership with the University of Washington for our Psychiatry Residency, the Montana Family Medicine Residency and to our new efforts to add a Billings Clinic Surgical Residency. 

 Billings Clinic has had concerns about many aspects of the Medforth project. These concerns, combined with three events that occurred recently, have caused Billings Clinic to cease discussions with Medforth. On two separate occasions an executive representative of the medical school cast aspersions on a proposed medical school in Great Falls, Montana, on the basis of that medical school’s Jewish affiliation. Those statements intimated that a school with a stated Jewish heritage may not belong in Montana and would not be able to assimilate in the state. In a third instance, a different executive representative of the medical school referred to a female Billings Clinic leader as a “token.” These comments are inconsistent with Billings Clinic’s core values, including a dedication to diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging. 

 The Billings Clinic Board of Directors reviewed these issues on Tuesday and took unanimous action to end conversations with Medforth.

 Billings Clinic will continue pursuing medical education relationships and opportunities at a scale that is appropriate and with partnerships that fit our Billings Clinic core values. The work to advance medical education capacity in Montana will continue.

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Rocky Vista University's provost Dr. David Forstein responded to Billings Clinic in the following statement:

We were informed by the Billings Clinic of their decision to not participate in the development of the proposed Rocky Vista University medical school in Billings.  While we are disappointed in that decision and have been working diligently to maintain an inclusive process throughout the project, we were more disappointed to learn of comments attributed to two members of our team referenced in their notification.    

RVU is deeply committed to providing our students, faculty and staff with a diverse, inclusive and safe environment across our University and healthcare community and are taking the appropriate steps to investigate this matter fully. This commitment is reflected in the diverse leadership we maintain across the highest levels of the University. We hold ourselves to higher standards and we simply do not condone disparaging or insensitive comments targeted at any race, ethnicity, gender or religion. 

At the same time, we remain committed to the development of the project and meeting the needs for skilled medical professionals in Montana and the Mountain West region.  We look forward to continuing to work to help meet the growing and unmet healthcare delivery needs in underserved and rural areas across Montana and beyond.  

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