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Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System to Merge With Catholic Health Initiatives Without U of L

Officials for Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System say they’ll merge with Catholic Health Initiatives without University of Louisville Hospital.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear rejected the merger between the three healthcare systems late last week after Attorney General Jack Conway—who previously ruled University Hospital is a public entity—said a merger with CHI may lead to loss of control of a public asset.

Conway writes in this opinion that the merger “raises unprecedented and complex legal and policy issues. While some of the legal and policy issues have been addressed by the parties, many remain unresolved.”

Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System, which is a private entity, has struggled the past couple years, making 155 job cuts last August and losing two top executives amid merger negotiations. It now announces its partnership under the name KentuckyOne Health (logo pictured.)

Jewish/St. Mary’s CEO David Laird says the new board will consist of 10 CHI and 5 Jewish/St. Mary’s representatives.

“CHI in Kentucky has a lot more hospitals than Jewish had so it made sense that there would be representation so there could be knowledge shared from an experiential standpoint for the constituent members of this board,” Laird said.

CHI is investing $320 million to launch KentuckyOne Health and since January 1st this year, Jewish no longer offers sterilizations, said Laird.

This may have come as surprise to some, but this form of a merger has been in the works for a while, Paul Edgett,  senior vice president of CHI.

As for merging with U of L, Edgett said conversations aren’t finished.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work within the constraints that the governor has outlined for us and we continue to have dialog with the governor on how we can make that happen…and there is definitely potential for that to continue,” he said.

Merger officials said they don’t expect to merge with U of LHospital, but may pursue some program partnerships with University Medical Center.

Click here to see a WFPL news special with merger officials.

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Local News Politics

O’Connell, U of L Settle Suits Over Hospital Merger Records

An agreement has been reached between the University of Louisville and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell that will end lawsuits he filed over hospital merger documents.

O’Connell went to court seeking to force the university and U of L Hospital to turn over financial and other records related to the hospital’s pending merger with two other health care companies.

O’Connell argued that the records should be made public because they involve taxpayer funds. U of L says the documents were not turned over in an Open Records request because they’re protected under Kentucky law.

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Local News Politics

Maze To Hear Arguments December 21 in U of L Merger Records Suit

A Jefferson Circuit judge has scheduled a December 21 hearing on whether the University of Louisville should turn over records requested by the county attorney related to the pending hospital merger.

County Attorney Mike O’Connell filed a lawsuit last week seeking what he says are substantive financial and other documents involving taxpayer money regarding the pending merger of University of Louisville Hospital, Catholic Health Initiatives and Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare.

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Local News Politics

O’Connell Sues Over Hospital Merger Records

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell has filed a lawsuit against the University of Louisville, seeking the release of records related to the pending U of L Hospital merger with Catholic Health Initiatives and Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare.

O’Connell says U of L has turned over some records that he described as “fluff,” but has not released financial information and other details that the public has a right to see.

“This is a huge financial transaction, and for the life of me again, I don’t know why the University of Louisville, its representatives and everyone else does not want people to see and know what this is about,” O’Connell said during a Tuesday press conference.

U of L has said it’s allowed to withhold the information because it’s preliminary in nature, falls under attorney/client privilege, or is otherwise protected under Kentucky law.

The university has 20 days to respond to O’Connell’s suit. The hospital merger is subject to approval by Governor Steve Beshear.

The merger will be the focus of a WFPL News special tomorrow at 1:00pm.

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Local News

Hospital Officials Say Layoffs Are A Sign of Merger’s Necessity

Officials with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare say the recent round of layoffs is an example of why the healthcare provider must merge with University of Louisville Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives.

Yesterday, Jewish Hospital cut 155 jobs. Last year, the system cut 500. The hospital merger will create a number of redundancies and likely lead to further cuts.

In a statement issued today, a spokesperson says those efficiencies are necessary to prevent even more cuts.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

City Lawmakers Denounce Hospital Merger

Joining state lawmakers and hundreds of residents, three members of the Louisville Metro Council are criticizing the pending merger between U of L Hospital, Jewish Hospital and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives.

Council members Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, and Marianne Butler, D-15, signed a petition that will appear as a half-page advertisement in the Courier-Journal this weekend, which protests the hospital merger and says it will “stop vital medical procedures” for residents in the area.

The lucrative deal makes the Denver-based Catholic institute a majority owner over University Hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Lexington-based St. Joseph Health System. But critics of the merger are concerned about the future of certain healthcare services such as vasectomies, stem cell research and other medical procedures of which the Catholic Church does not approve.

Welch says the merger endangers women’s reproductive rights because University Hospital serves poorer patients who rely on their healthcare services more than most.

“My main concern is that it won’t be status quo with women’s and men’s reproductive health. I certainly believe people have the  right to decide if they want a tubal ligation or a vasectomy for family planning, ” she says. “And since University Hospital is our most indigent populated hospital, this is really going to cause problems.”

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Local News

U Of L Board Authorizes Initial Step In Healthcare Merger

The University of Louisville may now begin more detailed discussions with two other healthcare providers about merging to form a new statewide medical system.

Negotiations on a merger with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare and Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives began in March. The U of L Board of Trustees Thursday moved the talks forward by authorizing a letter of intent. The letter paves the way for the creation of a new healthcare system comprised of all three entities.

The new system’s board of directors, name and operating guidelines have yet to be determined, but will be worked out over the next year.

“What our first intent was to complete the letter of intent,” says Eugene Woods, CEO of Catholic Health Initiative’s Kentucky-based St. Joseph Health System. “The process of selecting the new board is part of the discussions that we’ll be having over the next couple months.”

University Hospital CEO Jim Taylor says one of the priorities will be to standardize codes of ethics for reproductive health.

“There are other organizations that have merged with Catholic hospitals or Catholic systems and they have found ways to make sure women’s servers that are needed are available to women,” he says.

The proposed merger must also clear several regulatory hurdles. If the merger is approved, Catholic Health Initiatives will invest more than 300 million dollars in the system.

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Local News

University, Jewish Hospital In Partnership Talks

By Rick Howlett

Talks of a partnership or merger  involving some major Louisville hospital groups are being held.

Officials from Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare released a statement today saying they’re holding discussions with University of Louisville Medical Center leaders and Catholic Health Initiatives on how they might work together.

No one involved in the talks is commenting publicly.

The statement says the talks are prompted in part by this year’s passage of the federal health care overhaul bill. It says the new law will “dramatically alter the environment for disease prevention and in which care is delivered.”

The full statement is below:

A statement regarding partnership discussions:
In order to promote our shared commitment to patient care, biomedical research, and the education of the next generation of health care providers, the leadership of the University of Louisville/University Medical Center, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare (JHSMH) and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) are holding discussions to explore how they could work together in a more formal partnership to better serve Kentuckians.

Catholic Health Initiatives, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare
and the University Medical Center

These conversations are driven by the fundamental changes that are occurring in clinical medicine, demographics, and the needs of Kentuckians.

Over the next five years, the Healthcare Reform Act will dramatically alter the environment for disease prevention and in which care is delivered. Changes brought by legislative reform will place demands on all healthcare providers that must be addressed proactively to ensure future viability. Practicing physicians, medical educators, scientists, and hospitals will need to work together to find solutions and make substantive and innovative changes in the way care is delivered, students are educated, and new knowledge is generated.

In Kentucky, we must find new and better ways to attack the serious health issues facing our population. We have the undesirable distinction of leading the nation in the incidence of lung cancer – our rate is 50% higher than the national average. We are fourth in the nation in overall cancer incidence. Our ranking in the Top 10 doesn’t end there. We are seventh in the nation in obesity and the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease. We are also ninth in the number of deaths from heart disease as well as from stroke.

In 2005, Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services (JHHS) and CARITAS Health Services, a part of CHI, merged to form JHSMH. This followed more than 19 months of discussions and negotiations. JHHS and CHI are the parent organizations of JHSMH, and appoint a joint board to oversee the combined company.

The University of Louisville/University Medical Center (UMC) and JHSMH have a historical partnership in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, community and family medicine, ophthalmology, and solid organ transplantation. Additionally, the organizations work together closely to provide critical services to patients seeking care for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy, as well as rehabilitation medicine following a stroke or a traumatic neurological accident such as a spinal cord injury. Together, these organizations have pioneered new medical procedures in cardiac surgery, adult cardiac stem cell research, and organ and tissue transplantation. The two organizations have an extensive partnership in providing a location for medical student, internship, and residency education. The University of Louisville and JHSMH have also been at the forefront of developing new organizations such as the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute.

CHI is interested in broadening its relationships in Kentucky, where it has made significant investments in healthcare. CHI leaders see many opportunities to make a positive difference in the state by transforming how healthcare is delivered, expanding access to care, contributing to the mission of academic medicine, and building healthier communities. CHI shares the deeply held commitment of the faculty and staff of the University of Louisville and JHSMH to serving historically underserved and marginalized populations.

With an eye toward the fundamental changes that are ahead for health care providers, the boards of JHSMH and UMC are discussing the benefits of forming an integrated partnership that will position the organizations for the future.

Board representatives have evaluated a possible network that has relationships across the Commonwealth, the role of academic medicine in the delivery of healthcare services, the needs of Kentucky for medical education, and how a formal partnership could help prepare for the significant number of Kentuckians who will be added to the rolls of health insurers.

There are still many issues to discuss and resolve over the coming months as the organizations work toward a possible letter of intent. Board representatives must address a number of major items, including equity/ownership, governance structure, the management of medical education, and the integration of the academic mission throughout the proposed organization.

No final recommendations or decisions have been made. Additional information will be shared over the next several months as part of an ever-expanding dialogue between organizational leadership, the community, public officials, the staff of the institutions, and the faculty of the School of Medicine and community physicians.

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Local News

Jewish Hospital Co. Cutting 500 Jobs

Louisville-based Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare is eliminating 500 jobs, half of them through layoffs.

Officials say its the result of the economic downturn that’s affecting the health care industry nationwide, resulting in lower patient volume and more uninsured people seeking care.

Spokesperson Jeff Polson says the other reductions will be made through attrition and not filling open positions.

“Severence packages and other assistance as appropriate is being offered to all of the team members who will be affected,” he said.

Some of the across-the-board layoffs were effective Wednesday. Others will begin at the end of this month.