BILLINGS - In a statement released Wednesday, Billings Clinic said they will no longer continue conversations with Medforth Global Healthcare Education related to the opening of a medical school in Billings, due to comments inconsistent with the clinic's core values.
You can read the entire statement below:
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.
In response to the clinic's decision, the Provost of Rocky Vista University, David Forstein, released 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.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce also weighed in on the issue, releasing the following statement Wednesday evening:
The Billings Chamber of Commerce recognizes the concerns expressed by the Billings Clinic and supports their statement about their relationship with Rocky Vista University based on the information provided by the clinic. We will work with our community economic development partners and medical partners to gain a greater understanding of the situation. As a community we must stand strong and united behind issues of equality and inclusion and advocate for becoming a more diverse and accepting place to live and work. The clinic made what we are sure was a very difficult decision with broad reaching impacts to our economy and education. The decision aligns with the Chamber’s core pillars on diversity and inclusion.
Our Commitment to a more diverse and Inclusive Community for a stronger economic future.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce believes in Diversity and Inclusion. We believe that our community and the businesses that serve it will be at their best when the talent of each and every citizen is developed, actively sought and fully utilized in our economy/community. We strongly assert that only when all members of our community have equal access and opportunity to participate in all that our society has to offer will Billings realize its potential. These ideals hold true and need to be practiced within each workplace and in the business community as a whole. With this in mind, we want to clearly state:
- We believe that every individual has a right to live and work in an environment free of inequality, injustice, intolerance, prejudice, or systemic restrictions of their constitutional rights.
- We reject ALL forms of prejudice, discrimination, and systemic restrictions based on age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, family status, veteran status, or any other corporate or individual restriction prohibited by law.
- We firmly believe that diversity and inclusion are not just the right of every individual, but actively championing these paradigms will result in a more prosperous, innovative, and thriving business environment where talent stays and great leaders are regularly produced. Each person shall be judged solely on the content of their character and abilities.
- We believe we have a responsibility as a business and community leader to lead by example to create the diverse and inclusive community that will truly result in every persons’ unfettered ability to achieve the American Dream in peace.
D&I MISSION: We will continuously work to identify and dismantle conscious and non-conscious systemic bias and discriminatory actions in our workplaces and within our community through education, training, advocacy, mentorship, having difficult conversations, and regularly facilitating diverse and inclusive interactions as a convener within the city’s business community.