Jewish Hospital exterior

Jewish Hospital in downtown Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville has ended talks to buy KentuckyOne Health’s Louisville assets, including financially struggling Jewish Hospital, citing the inability to find a partner to help fund the deal after about six months of exploration.

The move raises fresh concerns about the future of Jewish Hospital, the only adult, solid organ transplant center in the Louisville region, where more than 2,500 people work.

It also raises questions about how U of L will accommodate the faculty doctors and medical residents who practice at Jewish and the adjacent Frazier Rehabilitation Institute, performing transplants, cardiovascular medicine, neurological surgery and spinal cord injury research, among other specialties.

"We regret ending our talks with (KentuckyOne parent company) CHI, but we must do what is fiscally responsible for the University of Louisville," U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said in a news release Wednesday evening. “Without a viable partner, we do not have the resources necessary to make the acquisition a reality."

The release said KentuckyOne Health has agreed to continue payments of about $2 million per month to U of L to subsidize the academic medical programs and to give at least 90 days’ notice of any changes.

"KentuckyOne Health is disappointed that the university was not able to secure a financial partner," said Deborah Lee-Eddie, interim market CEO for KentuckyOne Health, in the release. "We will now continue our discussions with other interested organizations."

Reacting to the news about the ending of talks between U of L and KentuckyOne, Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement. 

This news is disappointing. The Mayor knows how hard all the involved parties have worked and how hard they will continue to work for a smooth transition. From the beginning, his priorities have been continuing high-quality patient access and care throughout the Louisville community, and continuation of the teaching hospital. The Fischer administration stands ready to help ensure those things happen in any way possible.

If the U of L medical programs “cannot be continued” at Jewish Hospital and Frazier Rehab, KentuckyOne’s parent company “will assign those residencies to another facility requested by the university,” according to the release. It didn’t say what facilities could take on those programs.

In addition to Jewish and Frazier, KentuckyOne’s operations include Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in south Louisville; Jewish Hospital Shelbyville; Our Lady of Peace psychiatric hospital; and four outpatient medical centers -- Jewish East, South, Southwest and Northeast. KentuckyOne also has a medical group of primary care and other types of physicians.

Combined, the KentuckyOne facilities employ a little more than 5,000 people.

KentuckyOne Health has been trying to sell its Louisville assets since early 2017.

U of L swooped in as a potential suitor in late 2018 after talks with New York hedge fund BlueMountain Capital Management broke down.

U of L has been formally looking for a health care partner since February, hiring investment bank Cain Brothers to lead the search.

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