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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) –
For the first time since it was announced, the community had a chance to weigh in on a controversial hospital merger.
Ever since the possible merger between University Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives was made public, there have been questions about its effect on reproductive services.
Officials tried to answer those questions Wednesday.
The more than a dozen representatives of every entity involved in the merger faced a skeptical audience Wednesday night.
"I hope they will be full and complete answers and not as vague and ambiguous as they have been in the past," said Beverly Glascock.
"Right now what's happening is every time they answer a question it just generates more and more questions because they're not answering the questions fully," said Honi Goldman.
The community forum was hosted by the Louisville Metro Board of Health, which has yet to make up its mind about the merger.
"We view this as a critical part of the process where the community has an opportunity to make its views known, and taking that community input into account in where we go from here," said Director Bill Altman.
Questions were submitted by audience members, or ahead of time via email. Not surprisingly, most centered around religious doctrine and reproductive services. That's because if U of L and Jewish do merge with Catholic Health Initiatives, doctors there will no longer be allowed to perform tubal ligations on women. Contraceptives also won't be available at the hospitals. CHI says it won't budge on those changes.
"We are part of the Catholic Church," said CHI Senior Vice President Paul Edgett. "The ethical and religious directives apply to CHI, and we work with the local bishops that we maintain our Catholic hospitals within their Catholic legacy, and true to their values."
Despite the objections, the representatives say this merger boils down to one thing: money. Without help from CHI, the hospitals say they don't have much of a future.
"Status quo is not the option to merger. Decline is the option to merger," said University Hospital CEO Jim Taylor.
U of L and Jewish did reach a deal that with Baptist East that will allow its patients to have tubal ligation procedures performed there. The final decision on the merger is up to Governor Beshear, and there's no word on when he will decide whether or not to approve it.