Sparrow New Chapter UM Health

A New Chapter for Michigan

Sparrow Joining University of Michigan Health

For over 126 years, Sparrow Health System has had the honor of serving Mid-Michigan and earning the trust of our community. For everyday health needs or more complex conditions, our caregivers are committed to providing the most highly skilled, compassionate, and personalized care.

Today, we are proud to announce Sparrow will be joining University of Michigan Health to provide greater access to nationally renowned, coordinated care right here in Mid-Michigan. This will mean more convenience, a greater depth of expertise, updated facilities and seamless coordination with one of the nation’s top healthcare systems.

Sparrow and UM Health Logo

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you in this new chapter of Sparrow Health System. Joining University of Michigan Health will help us achieve our mission of improving the health of the people in our communities by providing quality, compassionate care to every patient, every time.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Community & Patient Questions

Why is Sparrow joining U-M Health?

Sparrow’s current partnership with U-M Health, which dates to 2019, has been very successful. It led to the two organizations having conversations about the development of a customized, unique partnership model. We found common ground in our visions for the need to create a statewide system of care that brought together community focused organizations to complement the traditional academic medical center and research platforms. The result is beyond what either of us could do on our own and Sparrow is honored to be joining a nationally renowned health system known for its clinical care, quality, research, and innovation.

Additionally, U-M Health is committing $800 million in capital investment to Sparrow, funded through hospital operations and strategic investments over eight years. This investment will enable Sparrow to accelerate the expansion of services, build greater breadth and depth of clinical expertise, and seamlessly integrate leading edge technology and other updates into the region.

For U-M Health, this is an important step toward its vision of a statewide system of highly coordinated care. Sparrow will co-lead in the creation of this statewide system along with Sparrow Medical Group playing a central role in physician development. Moreover, U-M Health already provides specialty care for many families from the greater Lansing area.

Is Sparrow changing its name or logo? What kind of changes can we expect for the Sparrow image and brand?

The Sparrow brand is known for high quality care across Mid-Michigan for over 126 years. Sparrow is also proud to use the U-M Health brand, which stands for the highest degree of quality, innovation, and research. In the coming year, we expect to introduce strategic updates to the Sparrow brand to appropriately reflect the relationship between our organizations. The long-term Sparrow brand strategy will be informed by caregiver and patient feedback within the context of the U-M Health brand strategy. Any changes will be communicated to caregivers in advance.

Why does U-M Health want to expand to the Mid-Michigan area?

For University of Michigan Health, this is an important step toward its vision of a statewide system of highly coordinated care; a vision that Sparrow shares and is excited to build toward. Together, we already collaborate to care for Mid-Michigan communities through our pediatric joint venture, Physician Health Plan, and, most recently, expanded plastic surgery services. Through this broader affiliation, patients from the Mid-Michigan region will have access to more coordinated specialty care closer to home.

Does this impact the relationship U-M Health has with MyMichigan Health and UM Health-West?

The mission of U-M Health is to advance health to serve Michigan and the world. An important part of that mission is fulfilling our responsibility to the people of Michigan to provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time. Sparrow will join our highly coordinated network, including MyMichigan and UM Health-West, as well as several unique collaborations we have in place with Trinity Health. Across all of our hospitals and collaborations, patients will have more coordinated specialty care, close to home whenever possible.

Will U-M Health doctors practice at Sparrow facilities?

U-M Health doctors already practice at Sparrow in several capacities. Our pediatric joint venture has built upon the strength of the existing Sparrow care teams and brought several C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital pediatric specialists to Lansing. More recently, our plastic surgery collaborations have brought U-M surgeons to E.W. Sparrow Hospital. With Sparrow now joining U-M Health, a key priority will be supporting Sparrow’s existing clinical expertise and adding new doctors, including U-M Health doctors, to Sparrow locations where appropriate to help meet the needs of our communities.

How will life be different for a Sparrow employed physician?

SMG physicians will play a central role in U-M Health’s and Sparrow's shared plans to develop the premier physician group serving Michigan. They will have the opportunity to leverage their community health expertise in a significant way as they co-design the U-M Health statewide system of highly coordinated care. As SMG grows and evolves there will be greater interaction and collaboration of care with U-M Health. Together, we anticipate our shared expertise as part of U-M Health should make it easier for SMG to recruit and retain physicians.

Is Sparrow joining U-M Health because of financial issues?

Sparrow’s post-COVID financial challenges are not the driver of this partnership. Creating a statewide health system with U-M Health has been an on-going discussion since 2019. Health systems across the nation are experiencing financial challenges with hospital operating costs climbing 10 percent year-to-date due to rising inflation and labor costs which affect the entire industry. Sparrow is not alone in facing these challenges. Joining U-M Health will enable Sparrow to accelerate the expansion of services, build greater breadth and depth of clinical expertise, and seamlessly integrate leading edge technology and other updates into facilities.

Will this partnership help with some of the significant workforce shortages at Sparrow?

Health care doctors everywhere are facing workforce challenges. By working together, Sparrow and U-M Health believe they can create challenging and rewarding career opportunities that draw the best and brightest team members. In addition, this relationship will allow the HR teams to work together to share best practices for addressing challenges, such as burnout and fatigue, as well as overall employee retention strategies.

Physician and care team member recruitment is also a shared priority. Sparrow and U-M Health will work together to recruit physicians and care team members to meet specific needs across both organizations. In addition, as our integration grows, additional U-M Health doctors will be available through Sparrow locations where appropriate to help meet the needs of the communities served by Sparrow.

If I am a patient at Sparrow, how will my care change?

The focus of Sparrow and U-M Health is on integrating care to best serve patients, with a focus on keeping care local. Over time, both organizations look forward to continuing to strengthen and broaden access to specialty care locally in the communities Sparrow serves. The two organizations joining has no impact on Sparrow's relationship with insurance plans.

As a donor to Sparrow, will my donation stay in Mid-Michigan?

Yes. Donor support to Sparrow Health System will remain under the authority of Sparrow Foundation and will continue to be invested in providing the highest quality, compassionate health care to children and families in the Mid-Michigan region. In addition, as part of Sparrow joining U-M Health additional pledges and matching funds will be established connected to the Sparrow Capital Campaign that will accelerate some long-awaited improvements on the E.W. Sparrow Hospital campus in Lansing and across the Sparrow Mid-Michigan service area.

As a donor to University of Michigan Health at Sparrow Children’s Center, will my donation stay in Lansing?

Yes. Donor support to University of Michigan Health at Sparrow Children’s Center will continue to be invested in providing the highest quality, compassionate health care to children and families in the Mid-Michigan region.

Does this impact Sparrow’s relationship with Michigan State University Colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and Nursing and other training programs?

Sparrow has a longstanding relationship with MSU that continues to provide vital and valued clinical services to the communities of Mid-Michigan. The pediatric care provided at University of Michigan Health at Sparrow Children’s Center is a great example of Sparrow, U-M Health, and MSU physicians coming together to provide the highest quality pediatric care in Mid-Michigan. Other examples where Sparrow works closely with MSU include neurology and medical education. Both Sparrow and U-M Health value the relationship with MSU and hope to continue their affiliation with MSU and its training programs.

Is this affiliation similar to Sparrow’s previous relationship with the Mayo Clinic Care Network?

No. The Mayo Clinic Care Network was a consortium of systems across the United States that shared knowledge and best practice ideas to improve care across its members. The relationship was purely contractual.

With Sparrow joining U-M Health, we can act as a singular organization focused on keeping care local and enhancing the continuity of care between services in Lansing, Ann Arbor and across the state.

What will happen to the Sparrow Governing Boards?

The Sparrow Health System Board and Sparrow subsidiary boards will continue to lead the local operations of the health system. Additionally, three Sparrow Health System board members will become key members of the new U-M Health Corporation board to begin establishment of a statewide system of care.

Will Sparrow’s role with U-M Health be different than MyMichigan Health?

Yes, Sparrow’s role will be different than MyMichigan Health.  Sparrow will be fully joining U-M Health and taking on a leadership role in creating a statewide system of community-based care. MyMichigan Health formed an affiliation with U-M Health where U-M Health contributes its expertise and brand in exchange for a small ownership interest. In turn, MyMichigan Health continues as is without a change in role.

Why do we say that Sparrow is joining U-M Health rather than affiliated, acquired, or bought?

The word “affiliation” is included in some of the underlying legal agreements, but isn’t a good descriptor of what is happening. We say that Sparrow is joining U-M Health because this was a choice made by Sparrow just as much as a choice by U-M Health. The words “acquired” and “bought” are not correct when we describe how two not-for-profit organizations come together, but they also incorrectly imply that Sparrow didn’t have a choice in the matter.  As part of joining U-M Health, the assets (bank accounts, buildings, equipment, etc.) of Sparrow are combined with and become part of the assets of U-M Health.

What Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system does U-M Health use? Will the two EMR systems be combined?

U-M Health and U-M Health West both use individual instances of Epic which is the same EMR that Sparrow uses. For the immediate future, these EMRs will stay separate. The opportunity to find both clinical and economic value in combining systems over time will be explored during the integration planning process. Combining EMRs takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. If changes are made, they will be communicated well in advance and will involve teams of clinicians deciding what is best for our patients and our health system.

How will this impact residency and fellowship programs administered by Sparrow?

There are no changes contemplated to our existing Residency and Fellowship programs at this time. There is an ongoing commitment to the medical education mission of Sparrow that will only be enhanced by our joining U-M Health. Specific enhancements have not been identified at this time.

Will Sparrow be combining with U-M Health to expand service lines and geographies of care (Examples: Home Care, Primary Care)?

During the initial integration work we will listen to the communities we serve to determine the needs that exist. Then we will explore the individual components that U-M Health, U-M Health West, and Sparrow have and how we can grow each component over time to best meet the needs of our communities.

Sparrow Home Care, along with all components of our Post-Acute Care platform, will eventually be connected across the entire geography of our statewide health system.  

Similarly, the expansion of access to primary care has been a top identified need and under the leadership of Sparrow Medical Group investments in expansion will remain a top priority of the entire U-M Health system.

Will Sparrow executives receive bonuses or performance incentives associated with joining U-M Health?

No. Any bonuses or performance incentives earned by Sparrow leaders will be based on the performance of Sparrow Health System relative to the stated health system goals and their role in leading to achieve those goals.


Sparrow Caregiver Questions

Will there be any layoffs at Sparrow as a result of this change?

There are no layoffs anticipated as part of the integration. The driving motivation behind the two organizations coming together is to bring the strengths of both health systems together to better care for the communities they serve. We are experiencing a period of unprecedented challenges in the labor market and we have a stated goal to grow and expand our care both locally and across the state. We believe we will need every exceptional caregiver we have, regardless of role. If we are able to combine some support service functions over time, we will do our best to utilize existing caregivers to take on the ever-expanding needs. This has been the case over time as Sparrow has brought in other hospitals into our health system.

Will Sparrow caregiver pay and/or benefits change?

There will be no changes to Sparrow caregiver’s compensation and benefits. Compensation and benefit plans and programs will remain under Sparrow for the foreseeable future. Negotiated labor agreements will remain in effect and will be under the purview of Sparrow Health System.

Will Sparrow employees become U-M Health employees?

The valued physicians, providers, nurses, and caregivers of Sparrow will continue to be employed in their current positions by Sparrow and Sparrow Medical Group.

Will the Sparrow Pension Plan be impacted by this?

No. The Sparrow Pension Plan will not be impacted by Sparrow joining U-M Health.

Will Sparrow remain a non-profit?

Yes, Sparrow will remain a 501c3 organization. This is the technical definition the IRS uses to define a charitable organization or a not-for-profit.  Therefore, eligibility for programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness will not change.

Will caregivers who currently work in remote positions be able to maintain their remote status?

For the immediate future, Sparrow’s policy on remote work is not anticipated to change. You should direct any questions on the current remote work policy to your supervisor.

Will Sparrow caregivers have to change their scrub colors?

For the immediate future, Sparrow’s dress code policy is not anticipated to change. Sparrow and U-M Health West both utilize a color-based dress code system which is different from that of U-M Health in Ann Arbor which does not. During the initial integration work we will evaluate whether a change is necessary. We understand that such a change can be very costly and therefore any potential changes will be communicated to caregivers in advance.

Will Sparrow caregivers receive any tuition assistance or discount for their dependents at University of Michigan Ann Arbor?

No. Sparrow caregivers will remain employed by Sparrow and no tuition assistance or discount for dependents is available at this time.