Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says University of Louisville Hospital has a lot to lose if medical services are compromised in a pending merger with a division of Catholic Health Initiatives.
Under the merger agreement, both University Hospital and Jewish Hospital will follow Catholic medical directives. That puts a number of services related to reproductive health and end-of-life care at risk of being stopped.
“The purpose of the university is to provide public health, not theologically-driven health,” says Fischer. “So all the health services that are available at a public institution need to be available at University Hospital.”
U of L officials insist that the School of Medicine—which is not part of the merger—will continue to provide services such as vasectomies, birth control counseling and emergency contraception for rape victims. Fischer met with U of L President James Ramsey last week to discuss the merger, since the city gives the hospital $7 million a year for indigent care.
“Well there’s a lot of issues at work for them: the accreditation of their medical school; their support from the state; the financial support from the city,” says Fischer. “They recognize this is a big issue and they’ve assured me they’re going to have a solution for it. Now we’re all going to be watching for that solution and we trust that one’s going to be in place. If not, we’ll continue to give them the feedback that it needs to be in place.”
University Hospital receives $61 million from the state. A group of state lawmakers has asked Ramsey to address a General Assembly committee about the merger. He hasn’t yet announced whether he will do so.