UofL president speaks out for first time since merger rejected - WDRB 41 Louisville News

UofL president speaks out for first time since merger rejected

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When University Hospital attempted to merge with Catholic Health Initiatives, Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's & Elizabeth Hospital, the proposal was rejected by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway.

Last week, Conway explained his reasoning for opposing the merger.

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On Tuesday, Dr. Ramsey spoke publicly for the first time since the request was denied.

Ramsey emphasized that University Hospital will always fulfill its responsibility to provide indigent care -- an issue that became an obstacle during the proposed merger talks. Despite not receiving the financial boost the merger would have provided, Dr. Ramsey says University Hospital will fulfill its obligation to provide healthcare for all.

"The University of Louisville Hospital has a responsibility to provide the very best health care to all people throughout our community and state," Ramsey said. "And that includes everyone, whether they have insurance or not. So we're continuing to work to make sure that we can do that."

Ramsey says Kentucky's population may have more healthcare issues than other states, which puts a strain on the system.

"We're a state that has healthcare problems -- too much cancer, too much heart disease, too much childhood obesity and those are the things that we are committed to working on, but we do need resources to do everything that we need to do," Ramsey said.

Ramsey went on to explain that even when the hospital's 51-bed ER is full, people are still seen, even if they must place beds in the hallway.

Although Gov. Steve Beshear has said education and public safety will not face deep cuts, UofL is still affected. "Higher education is taking a 6.4 percent cut," so our cut is less than the rest," he said, but added it's still a significant cut.

"It's $9 million for us," Ramsey said. "So we understand the tough fiscal challenges. We appreciate not being cut 8.4 percent. But it is disappointing and it is disheartening because we've been through 11 cuts in 11 years. And we've worked hard to keep moving forward and doing the things we're supposed to be doing at the University. It's going to be a big challenge for us."

Ramsey noted that budget cuts to education hurt everyone -- especially students.

"It's really everyone," Ramsey said. "It is our students because they are paying much more now than they were a decade ago in terms of tuition. So there will continue to be pressure on tuition increases."

Another challenge: retaining quality educators and staff in Kentucky's tough economy.

"Our faculty and staff are working harder than ever," Ramsey said. "They're not getting the pay raises -- we were fortunate last year to have a pay raise after three years of not getting a raise.... We cannot lose our Bucks for Brains professions, we cannot lose our best faculty and staff. "

Ramsey says the university is actively pursuing other avenues to secure the financial resources needed.

"We need financial help," Ramsey said. "We're looking at additional partners that we might be able to work with. We're looking at different structures, maybe not a full asset merger, but maybe a joint venture or management contract. So we are committed to our responsibility to provide the best in health care and we'll never walk away from that responsibility."

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