LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville board of trustees will meet on Wednesday for the second time in the last three days to have a confidential discussion about a “business proposal,” as speculation centers on the university rekindling efforts to takeover Jewish Hospital and the other Louisville healthcare operations of KentuckyOne Health, perhaps with financing from state government.
Sen. Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown, confirmed Tuesday that there have been discussions about lawmakers making an appropriation when they meet next in January to help U of L operate the KentuckyOne facilities.
“It’s something we are being asked to consider … It’s way too soon to commit to anything,” Thayer told WDRB, adding that he hasn’t decided on whether he would support such a move.
U of L said in June that it was abandoning its bid to take over the KentuckyOne Health properties because it couldn’t find a partner – such as a hospital operator or investment firm – to help finance the deal.
U of L spokesman John Karman didn’t directly answer when asked Tuesday if the university has reignited its efforts to buy the properties.
“We have nothing to announce in regard to the local KentuckyOne assets,” he said.
A KentuckyOne Health spokesman said Tuesday, "We remain in confidential discussions with multiple organizations."
The trustees met behind closed doors for a couple of hours Monday morning with healthcare personnel, such as U of L Health CEO Tom Miller, participating in the discussion.
The Courier-Journal reported Monday evening that it had obtained a document indicating that U of L was considering buying KentuckyOne’s facilities for $10 million as part of an arrangement under which it would receive $40 million from Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, along with a potential $50 million loan from the state.
Karman said that document “should be considered preliminary. It may not be accurate and up to date, and it has not been approved by our board.”
The board is set to meet again behind closed doors at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
KentuckyOne Health, a subsidiary of national nonprofit healthcare giant CommonSpirit Health, has been trying to offload Jewish Hospital and several other Louisville healthcare facilities for more than two years.
Besides Jewish Hospital, the group of facilities up for sale includes the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute adjacent to Jewish; Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in south Louisville; Jewish Hospital Shelbyville; Our Lady of Peace psychiatric hospital; the outpatient facilities called Medical Center Jewish East, South, Southwest and Northeast; and the KentuckyOne Health Medical Group, a physician practice group.
If combined with U of L Hospital and U of L’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, the resulting system would generate $1.5 billion in annual revenue, according to a request for proposals U of L issued earlier this year.
But the KentuckyOne facilities, particularly Jewish Hospital, have been losing money and are in need to significant capital expenditures.
KentuckyOne lost $57 million operating the group of facilities in the year ending June 30, 2018, according to financial reports from CommonSpirit Health. The group lost another $29 million in the six months ended Dec. 31.
The closing of Jewish Hospital would be a big hit to U of L, as university employed doctors such as cardiologists and transplant surgeons are responsible for about 40 percent of the clinical activity. About 50 U of L medical residents practice at Jewish Hospital.
U of L officials have said they don’t have room at U of L Hospital to relocate all of their activities from Jewish.
Absorbing the KentuckyOne facilities would mean U of L taking on about 6,000 additional employees, roughly doubling its headcount.