LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- An argument between two Louisville-based healthcare giants continues to heat up and they're both speaking out.

The University of Louisville claims Norton is violating an agreement by possibly teaming up with UK.

The announcement came last week that Kosair Children's Hospital and Kentucky Children's Hospital could be joining forces.

"We're excited about it. We're committed to it and we'll fight for it," said Stephen Williams, CEO of Norton Healthcare.

The announcement said the partnership between Norton and UK would better meet the healthcare needs and interests of Kentucky's children.

"Working with Kentucky Children's Hospital and the University of Louisville, we can develop a more comprehensive, statewide children's hospital network to make sure every Kentucky family has top access to top quality care for children," said Dr. Steve Hester, Chief Medical Officer for Norton Healthcare.

But the University of Louisville says they were not consulted before this announcement.

"Norton and UK conducted conversations in secret. Nobody at the U of L knew anything about this," said Dr. David Dunn, Executive VP for Health Affairs at U of L.

Dunn says a 1981 agreement between Norton and the state stipulates that the land the hospital sits on must be used to the benefit of U of L.

"So the objection that we have is right now what they're doing doesn't benefit us and we don't think it benefits the kids in the Commonwealth either," Dunn told WDRB.

But Stephen Williams, CEO of Norton Healthcare, says they've not violated that agreement.

"It's totally premature because we haven't done anything but agree to talk," said Williams. "There's nothing in the document that would preclude it being available to others. In fact, it always has."

Dunn believes Norton is motivated by money but Norton representatives say that's not the case.

"To say it's motivated by profit ... we don't even know what the numbers are," said Michael Gough, Chief Financial Officer for Norton Healthcare.

"U of L has searched for every conceivable roadblock to stop this great partnership and to stop plans that will better serve Kentucky's children. We will not let that happen," said Williams.

"The U of L is about taking care of kids and we're not going to interrupt care. We're not proposing to evict Norton. We're proposing to get them to the table as soon as possible. Meet with me. I want Steve Williams to meet with me. We'll hammer out our differences. We want to do this in the best interest of the Commonwealth," Dunn told WDRB.

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