Same Catholic health system considering University Hospital’s request for proposals

Though Gov. Steve Beshear twice rejected a proposal that would have merged it with a Catholic health system, University Hospital‘s expected release of a request for proposals is drawing attention from the same Catholic health system, reports Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal. (C-J photo by John Rott)

“We still believe that a close working relationship with the University of Louisville School of Medicine and University Medical Center is important to our vision as an organization, to this community and citizens across the commonwealth,” wrote Ruth Brinkley, chief executive officer of KentuckyOne Health, the company created after St. Joseph Health System, owned by Catholic Health Initiatives, and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare merged earlier this year.
If the deal had gone through as planned, University Hospital would also have been part of that merger. But since University Hospital would have been subject to Catholic health directives — which includes forbidding sterilization and in-vitro fertilization — under the merger, Beshear rejected the deal; University Hospital has been ruled a public entity. The New York Times notes the episode in a story today saying the expansion of Catholic hospitals could limit reproductive health care.
Last week, University Hospital’s operator was given permission to make a request for proposals “aimed at attracting interest from other health care entities that could stabilize the finances of the area’s main safety-net hospital,” reports The Associated Press. Finding such a partner is “very” critical, said Dr. David Dunn, U of L’s executive vice president for health affairs.(Read more)
But after The C-J reported permission for the RFP had been granted, Brinkley sent out a note to physicians and administrators of KentuckyOne Health. “As we more closely examine the RFP and begin our planning process, we will share additional information with you,” she wrote.
Merger critics said pairing up with KentuckyOne Health would lead to the same problems as the first proposal. “It’s still the same pig. They’re still trying to make it into a silk purse,” said Honi Goldman of Louisville. “It’s a dangerous road to go down … Why are they stuck on this one suitor?” (Read more)
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