Wed. Jun 19th, 2019

Picture of health: Potential merger mired in controversy

By James El-Mallakh–

The potential merger of Catholic Health Initiatives, which owns St. Mary’s Health Care and Jewish Hospital, and University Hospital, the independent, cooperative hospital system in which University of Louisville doctors are trained, is not official yet. It still needs the approval of Governor Steve Beshear and the archbishops of Louisville and Lexington, but so far, the issue has been shrouded in controversy.

Much of the controversy centers on whether or not women seeking sterilizations would be turned away.

“I don’t think it should have to be any extra standard because it’s a hospital it should just be provided, regardless of affiliation,” said Kayla Penny, a senior sociology major.

Dr. David Dunn, the executive Vice President for health affairs at U of L, said in a press release that in a new partnership with Baptist Hospital East, U of L would refer women seeking sterilizations to Baptist, as tubal ligations would not be allowed at University Hospital.

The partnership “will ensure our ability to provide reproductive services for our patients after the merger occurs,” Dunn said. “For those individuals who are unable to pay, we have a plan already in place where we will pay for their care, we will pay for transportation, we will arrange transportation… and we will do this in the undisturbed and sane fashion that we do so today.”

According to the U of L O ce of Communication and Marketing, the university
has reserved $15 million to continue its reproductive health services.

However, some feel, regardless of how effective a referral to another hospital is, it should not have to be done at all.

“If the person is having a [cesarean] section and they want their tubes tied, they’ll have to stop surgery, sew them up and move them to another location to do that and that puts the individual at much greater risk for complications,” said Jill Sadowski, a junior women and gender studies and American sign language major.

But the university, while touting the many opportunities for investments in research, is making this decision in part because of the risk of being unable to provide the same level of care that it has in the past to people who are unable to pay for care.

U of L President James Ramsey said University has long stood by the principle of “you can’t pay, but we’ll provide the care,” but the “financial model is hard to sustain,” especially considering the leap from 21 percent of University Hospital patients coming in with no insurance, to 30 percent.

“I think that it’s very clear from the analysis that was done in 2008 that [University Medical Center] could not continue to provide its 150 million dollars of …care [to noninsurance patients] that it currently provides without this merger,” Dunn said.

Despite the concerns that have arisen within the community, University Hospital has not focused its attention on what will be lost, but rather on what will be gained.

There are some who are more optimistic about the bene ts that it can bring to the hospital. Tommy Leveston, a post- baccalaureate pre-med student, is con dent about the bene ts of the merger.

“I think it’s a good thing I think it puts the University of Louisville out in front with the community and …I think that more people will be provided with health care,” Leveston said. “And that’s main reason for the merger, so that more people in this area and the rural areas can be provided with health care.”

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Photo: Nathan Gardener/The Louisville Cardinal

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