KentuckyOne Health lays off several top executives

KentuckyOne Health laid off several top executives Sept. 16, the latest sign of trouble at the hospital company created by mergers four years ago.

Andrew Wolfson of The Courier-Journal called the firings “a bloodbath” and wrote: “In an internal announcement that wasn’t shared publicly, the Kentucky division of financially troubled Catholic Health Initiatives said it was axing leaders to “improve operational efficiency and ensure continued focus on patient care.”

The fired executives included Dr. Damian “Pat” Alagia, senior vice president and chief physician executive; Randy Napier, president of Frazier Rehab Institute and Southern Indiana Rehab Hospital, and Michael Spine, senior vice president of strategy and business development. “Velinda Block, system chief nursing officer, who had previously shared her decision to leave the company, decided to resign and her position will not be filled,” just as Napier and Spine’s will not, Wolfson reports.

The company’s announcement said “These decisions were made to strengthen our resources and support the physicians, clinicians and team members who are delivering on the needs of patients and families every day.”

Wolfson notes, “KentuckyOne was formed in 2012 by the merger of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and St. Joseph Health System of Lexington, but it has had financial troubles ever since, and in February 2014 announced it was laying off 500 employees in Kentucky. Its Denver-based parent lost $125.9 million in the last quarter of 2015 and has run up billions of dollars of debt.” Alagia told Wolfson that the moves made sense for the company.

KentuckyOne and its partner, the University of Louisville Hospital, have “come under attack on several fronts over the past few months,” Wolfson notes. “Last month a jury returned a $21.2 million verdict against the company and its St. Joseph Hospital in London for conspiring with cardiologists to perform unnecessary heart procedures. . . .

“In June, triggered by a surgeon’s complaint that U of L Hospital was so understaffed that it endangered patients, a state inspection last month found that deficiencies in nursing services specifically endangered three patients. A dozen nurses and doctors also told state inspectors that nursing and other staff shortages put patients at risk, according to the state’s 30-page report released by the company, which said the hospital is safe and has made numerous improvements.

A state inspection team concluded after a follow-up visit in August that the issues had been addressed.

U of L Hospital also received the lowest possible score from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a new rating system for hospitals.

“And in May, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld a $1.45 million punitive damages verdict against KentuckyOne’s St. Joseph Hospital in London for patient dumping in a case in which it twice kicked out an indigent, paraplegic patient in agonizing pain – the second time wheeling him across the street to a motel, leaving him there without a wheelchair and telling him if he came back again the hospital would have him arrested. He died instead.”

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