Center straddles Yale-New Haven Hospital, University

The Smilow Center cost $467 million to build.
The Smilow Center cost $467 million to build. Photo by Nick Bayless.

When the Smilow Cancer Hospital opens this afternoon, it will tap into the resources of both the Yale School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital, two institutions that have built a complex relationship since 1826.

While the School of Medicine is a fully integrated part of the University, the hospital is actually a separate nonprofit corporation, though it has an affiliation agreement that allows it to use Yale’s name. At $467 million, the cost of the Smilow Hospital was jointly financed by the medical school and Yale-New Haven Hospital, and it will bring together doctors from both the University and the surrounding community. This collaboration will fit into the preexisting arrangement between the hospital and the medical school, where resources are shared and benefits are split, University President Richard Levin said.

The medical school covered the cost of the 13 percent of the building used for ambulatory care, while Yale-New Haven paid for the remaining 87 percent, which will be used for hospital functions, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said.

Beginning in September 2007, both the Yale and Yale-New Haven development offices conducted a fundraising campaign to cover costs that could not be met using bonds and borrowed funds, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said.

The campaign’s largest gift came from Joel Smilow ’54, who has supported Yale projects as well as other medical facilities in the past.

Yale-New Haven is an open hospital, meaning 800 insured doctors — including both physicians employed by the hospital or Yale and unaffiliated practitioners from the New Haven community — can admit and treat patients, Alpern said.

Yale-New Haven hires very few of its own physicians, Alpern said. Almost all the doctors who work in the hospital are Yale faculty members, whose salaries are paid by the University — which in turn receives revenue from Yale-New Haven in exchange for its doctors’ services, Alpern said.

In this relationship, even the revenue from patient care is split between the two, with the School of Medicine taking service fees and Yale-New Haven keeping fees related to equipment and building space. This financial arrangement will also determine how proceeds to the Smilow Hospital are divided.

“[The Smilow Center] is a new building in a pre-existing relationship,” Levin said. “It will greatly expand the capability of Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale Medical School.”

Though some unaffiliated doctors from the surrounding community will be practicing at the Smilow Hospital, the majority of the doctors working there will be specialists from the Yale faculty, Levin said, adding that the Smilow Hospital will centralize all the Yale Cancer Center’s endeavors in treatment under the same roof for the first time.

Smilow’s opening should also increase the amount of funding the cancer center is awarded by the National Institutes of Health, Alpern said. Funding is decided by the number of cancer grants a hospital receives, which will go up with the number of clinical trials performed.

Yale-New Haven is also the official teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine, the hospital’s spokesman, Mark D’Antonio, said.

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