Jewish Hospital exterior

Jewish Hospital in downtown Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- KentuckyOne Health is making "good progress" toward a deal to sell its Louisville healthcare operations -- including Jewish Hospital -- to the University of Louisville, the leader of the nonprofit health system told employees in an email last week.

KentuckyOne and the university have established a "transition planning team" to prepare for "the possible transition of KentuckyOne's providers, staff, and services to U of L Health," said Deborah Lee-Eddie, KentuckyOne's interim CEO for the Louisville market, in the April 30 "strategic update."

"While there are still several details remaining to be resolved in the normal flow of a transaction, the initiation of this work reflects positive progress in our discussions," she said.

U of L Health is the new umbrella organization comprising University Hospital, U of L's James Graham Brown Cancer Center and U of L Physicians, the practice plan for university-employed doctors.

University President Neeli Bendapudi has said U of L cannot take on KentuckyOne's operations without the help of a hospital company, investment firm or other partner. Lee-Eddie's email made no mention of parties other than U of L.

For her part, Bendapudi said on April 18 that talks were progressing and that a deal could be reached by "the end of May."

"We are working very diligently," she said.

On Wednesday, a university spokesman said: "At present, it would be inappropriate to discuss potential partners or agreements."

U of L has been formally searching for a healthcare partner since February. Bendapudi extended the process in March, with the goal of reaching a deal with KentuckyOne by June 30.

KentuckyOne Health has been trying to sell Jewish, the adjacent Frazier Rehabilitation Institute and other Louisville facilities -- including Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in south Louisville, Jewish Hospital Shelbyville and four outpatient medical centers around town -- for two years.

KentuckyOne lost $57 million operating that group of facilities in the year ending June 30, 2018, according to financial reports from KentuckyOne's parent company, which was formerly Catholic Health Initiatives and is now called CommonSpirit Health.

If the U of L assets -- University Hospital, the Brown Cancer Center and U of L Physicians, the doctor practice plan -- are combined with KentuckyOne, the resulting system would have nearly $1.5 billion in annual revenue, U of L said in its February request for proposals.

Many of the university's doctors and medical students, including transplant surgeons, practice at Jewish Hospital.

"About 40 percent of clinical activity at Jewish Hospital is done by University of Louisville physicians," Tom Miller, CEO of U of L Health, told the board of trustees on April 18.

Lee-Eddie's email was first reported by Louisville Business First on Tuesday.

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Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Chris Otts reports for WDRB.com about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and cotts@wdrb.com.