University of Louisville, Norton Healthcare settle Kosair Childr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

University of Louisville, Norton Healthcare settle Kosair Children's Hospital dispute, will be "locked arm-in-arm" for years

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Larry Benz, chairman of U of L Board of Trustees Larry Benz, chairman of U of L Board of Trustees
Kosair Children's Hospital in downtown Louisville Kosair Children's Hospital in downtown Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Norton Healthcare and the University of Louisville have a reached a settlement that will end their bitter, two-year legal battle over Kosair Children's Hospital.

Norton's board of directors and the executive committee of the U of L Board of Trustees signed off on the settlement Friday morning.

Norton owns Kosair Children’s Hospital, which it built in 1986 on state-owned land at 231 E. Chestnut Street. U of L, a state entity, has long used Kosair as the pediatric teaching hospital for its School of Medicine.

The Norton-U of L dispute erupted in in August 2013 when Norton announced it would collaborate in pediatrics with the University of Kentucky and its Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington – a move that riled U of L medical school officials.

U of L threatened in an Aug. 27, 2013 letter to evict Norton from Kosair Children’s Hospital, prompting Norton to file a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court.

The settlement includes a new land lease for the Norton-owned hospital and an updated academic affiliation agreement with U of L's medical school, according to Larry Benz, chairman of the U of L Board of Trustees.

The deal "commits us both to a long-term, locked arm-in-arm partnership," Benz said in an interview following Friday's meeting. 

"The No. 1 thing is the commitment by both organizations -- Norton's and U of L -- that we want to do everything to protect and maintain the best interests of pediatrics and patients. U of L has always maintained, we don't want to be in the hospital business; we want a partner. And they understand that," Benz said.

The settlement documents will not become public until Monday, officials said.

That's because the agreement still needs to be ratified by the state and by University of Louisville Physicians, or ULP, officials said.

Over WDRB's objection, U of L officials declined to provide the documents even after the trustees' executive committee voted unanimously to approve the deal.

Jennifer Elliott, an attorney who is U of L's associate vice president for health affairs/strategic initiatives, said the documents are still "preliminary" until the other parties approve them.

Norton spokesman Thomas Johnson confirmed the deal Friday but said no details would be released until Monday.

"The real winner in this will be the children in the state of Kentucky," he said.

Asked whether Norton still wants to collaborate with UK in pediatrics, Johnson said: "I can't answer that right now because that's part of the agreement that needs to be approved by everyone before we can talk about it."

Norton and U of L came back to the bargaining table in November, and the settlement was the product of seven days of mediation in Louisville and two days in Lexington, Benz said.

Meanwhile, Norton remains locked in a legal battle with Kosair Charities over how the hospital company spends and accounts for millions of dollars in donations from Kosair Charities for care at the children's hospital.

Johnson said the U of L settlement does not resolve the Norton-Kosair dispute.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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