Health & Medicine

Beshear again rejects U of L hospital merger

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has turned down a second attempt to add the University of Louisville's University Hospital to the newly merged entity that includes the Jewish Hospital and St. Joseph hospital organizations.

"Last week, university representatives offered us some ideas to address our concerns about the original proposed merger partnership," Beshear said in a release Monday. "Attorney General (Jack) Conway and I have carefully evaluated those ideas but found that they will not satisfy our concerns about the merger proposal."

On Friday, officials at Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare in Louisville and Lexington-based St. Joseph Health System announced they would merge to create Kentucky's largest health system, called KentuckyOne Health. Each hospital within the newly created organization will retain its name.

The partnership is retroactive to Jan. 1. It initially was to have included University Hospital, but Beshear denied that request, calling the hospital a public asset that should not be controlled by the private sector.

Monday's statement indicated the discussion about future partnerships was not over, however.

"We remain committed to working with the university to explore all appropriate paths forward for the hospital and for our Kentucky taxpayers," Beshear's statement said.

KentuckyOne Health officials issued a response to Beshear's Monday statement in which they sounded undeterred about the latest setback to University Hospital participation.

"As we move forward with KentuckyOne Health, we will continue to look for ways to work with University Medical Center," the statement said. "We are also very committed to working with the University of Louisville School of Medicine to further academic relationships."

On Friday, KentuckyOne Health administrators emphasized their strong relationship with the U of L medical school, which they said would continue even if University Hospital did not become a part of KentuckyOne.

Beshear said in a Friday statement that he and Conway "had a good meeting" with U of L representatives Thursday and discussed some of the university's ideas for addressing some of the state's concerns about having a university hospital as part of a privately managed organization.