By James El-Mallakh–
The University of Louisville Medical Center, UMC, have announced that University Hospital and KentuckyOne Health will be partnering. The agreement has been signed by both partnering entities and Governor Steve Beshear.
The partnership follows a yearlong pursuit by UMC to find a counterpart to help the hospital financially. University of Louisville Hospital is the teaching facility for U of L medical students and is overseen by UMC.
The partnership will allow the state and university to retain control over assets of the university. “This agreement is fundamentally different than what was proposed this time last year,” said Gary Mans, the director of the health sciences center communications and marketing. “The assets that are University Medical Center’s remain the assets of University Medical Center and are overseen by the university and the state.”
Beshear rejected two previous attempts by UMC to merge with other hospitals because the state would have lost control over assets of the university. Attorney General Jack Conway said in a press conference that the governor has the right to step in again if there are any changes in the partnership.
The new partnership will see $1.39 billion of investment by KentuckyOne health over the next 20 years. The new partnership will also allow U of L to expand its range of care it provides to Kentucky residents in more rural parts of the state.
The benefit that KentuckyOne gains in the partnership is access to greater levels of medical care facilities. “KentuckyOne gains access to a facility that has quaternary and tertiary care levels,” said Mans. “That means that they immediately have access to the highest levels of care that can be provided in health care.”
According to the press release by U of L, the partnership will allow, “All current UMC policies for women’s health, end-of-life care and its pharmacy [to] remain unchanged.” These issues were a concern to community members in the past and were some of the reasons cited by Beshear when he chose to reject past mergers.
KentuckyOne Health is a composite of the organizations that attempted to merge with UMC in the past. The organizations are Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare and St. Joseph Health System. Initially, UMC was going to be a part of the group but when the governor rejected UMC’s part in it, the organizations merged independent of UMC to form KentuckyOne.
The two previous merger attempts were rejected by the governor in December of last year and in January. In February UMC issued a request for proposals, RFP, that sought to find a new partner for UMC. Of the two respondents to the RFP, Health Management Associates in Naples, Fl. was the other one.
University Hospital is a public institution. If it engages in a deal that involves a new lease or amending or a new affiliation agreement for the university, it needs permission from the governor. During the press conference, the governor said that he did not have any decision in picking the partner for UMC.
In the press release, UMC President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Taylor said, “Our joint operating agreement ensures that we not only maintain our current academic and medical services, but that we have the financial resources and statewide network to continue to expand and innovate those services for the future.”
Photo courtesy of WDRB