Hospital merger is progressing

FRANKFORT — A network merging the University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare in Louisville and Lexington's Saint Joseph Health System is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The boards of all three partners have approved the merger, but they will continue to operate separately until regulatory and church approvals are obtained.

That could take as long as a year, said Paul W. Edgett, senior vice president of Catholic Health Initiatives, a Denver-based nonprofit that operates Saint Joseph Health Systems in Kentucky and is one of the sponsors of the merger.

Officials from all three agencies announced the progress Tuesday at a press conference.

A name for the new network has not been worked out, Edgett said, but it will feature more than 3,000 physicians at 91 locations.

The merger was announced last November. Plans call for the Catholic Health Initiative to make an incremental capital infusion of $320 million in support of the system.

In addition, the new system will invest $200 million in capital to expand the academic medical center in Louisville and $100 million in statewide health care services.

Ultimately, the merged network will effectively double the size of the Louisville academic medical center, said Jim Taylor, president of the University of Louisville Hospital/James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

That, he said, will help alleviate the physician shortage in Kentucky and make sure that all communities have adequate access to health care.