Hospital merger is a go -- without U of L Hospital - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hospital merger is a go -- without U of L Hospital

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Ruth Brinkley, KentuckyOne Health President and CEO Ruth Brinkley, KentuckyOne Health President and CEO

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A controversial hospital merger is going ahead without one key player -- University of Louisville Hospital -- and it says it will have to cut services.

The merger would have brought University, Jewish Hospital, Saints Mary and Elizabeth hospitals, and Catholic health Initiatives -- CHI -- together under the same ownership.  But now U of L will not be a part of it.  The state had raised concerns about private ownership of a public hospital.

U of L released a statement after Friday's merger announcement saying it was disappointed that Governor Beshear would not approve the university's participation in the merger.  "Without the ability to participate in this merger or an infusion of significant and ongoing funding from the state, we will be unable to continue to provide the same level of service or training," the statement from Community & Media Relations Manager David McArthur said.

The governor released a statement Friday afternoon saying that he and Attorney General Jack Conway met with U of L representatives Thursday to discuss the issue.  Beshear said he expects to get back with the university on Monday.  "We remain committed to supporting University Hospital in reaching our common goals of care for our most vulnerable citizens while maintaining solid financial standing for the institution," the statement said. 

Jewish Hospital lost $7 million and laid off about 600 workers during the past year.  It hopes that a merged system will change all of that.

The merged organization will be called KentuckyOne Health.  In a news release, Bob Hewett, chair of the board for KentuckyOne Health, said, "The people of Kentucky face significant health threats, not just from disease, but also from issues related to access to preventive and advanced medical care and a severe shortage of physicians. We believe that this new health system will make for a healthier Kentucky."

CHI Senior Vice President Paul Edgett explained during a news conference Friday, "We originally had intended it to have three partners, but with the governor's decision, we did need to move forward, because we believe we're better prepared to meet the needs of the Commonwealth."

59-year-old Ruth Brinkley is the president and chief executive officer of the new organization.  She is a former executive at Ascension Health and Catholic Health Initiatives.  The statement quoted her as saying, "The organizations have come together as KentuckyOne Health because they recognize that continuing to function as we have is not going to solve the issues. We must change to more effectively meet the health needs of those we serve."

There were concerns that the merger would prohibit certain reproductive procedures from taking place at U of L Hospital because they go against Catholic doctrine and that health care for the indigent might suffer.  Under the merger, while the hospitals will retain their individual names, some services will be changing.  Sterilizations, for instance, will no longer be performed at Jewish Hospital.

CHI is a catholic based organization.

The proposed merger would have created a statewide network of healthcare facilities, but after reviewing the report, Governor Steve Beshear said December 30th it was not a good idea and blocked the merger.

"After exhaustive discussions and research, I have determined that this proposed transaction is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth and therefore should not move forward," Beshear said in a statement released then. "In my opinion the risks to the public outweigh the potential benefits."

Beshear said he understood that the "changing health care industry has caused significant challenges for both University and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's Healthcare," but added that the administration is committed to "help them fulfill their missions and succeed in a changing health care economy."

Beshear was the only public official required to sign off on the merger.

Now that the merger is happening, Catholic Health Initiatives says it will put $320 million into KentuckyOne Health.  Much of that money will go to an electronic health records system along with other facilities and equipment.

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