UK finalizing deal to manage Ashland hospital in ‘joint venture’

King’s Daughters Medical Center (2011 photo)

The University of Kentucky and King’s Daughters Heath System, which has a major hospital in Ashland, have formed what they call a “joint venture.”

Mark Newman, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs, told his colleagues, “This is our most significant hospital partnership since the acquisition of Good Samaritan Hospital” next to UK’s Lexington campus in 2007. In this case, UK will manage but not own the 465-bed King’s Daughters Medical Center and its 10-bed satellite in Portsmouth, Ohio.

The deal will help UK HealthCare expand its reach into Ohio and West Virginia, making it more competitive with big hospitals in those states, and give patients in the Ashland area easier access to UK facilities.
“We see a tremendous opportunity in Ohio and West Virginia to continue to advance and provide care to people who need it,” Newman told WKYT-TV. “We are not coming in as a white knight. We’re coming to work together to keep them strong and to secure our future.”

King’s Daughters President and CEO Kristie Whitlatch told the Ashland Daily Independent that the deal is likely to be finalized in April.

In addition to better “access to academic medical care for our patients and communities,” Whitlatch said, “We are also very excited about the possibility of bringing a formal medical residency training program to King’s Daughters, focusing on primary care. This has enormous potential for physician recruitment and retention, better access to care for our communities, and growth for the health system.”

“Whitlatch said a new governing body will be formed, with David Jones, chairman of the KDMC board, serving as chairman,” the Independent reports. “Both programs will have equal representation, Whitlatch said, while she will continue as CEO and also be on the management team at UK HealthCare. Whitlatch said the community will see no difference in day-to-day operations.”

Last April, Kings’s Daughters recently became the only hospital in the Ashland area, with the closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell.

UK’s deal will be similar to the one it has with the state to manage Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, a psychiatric facility, but “This type of relationship is a new one for UK HealthCare,” Newman said in an email to the UK community. We have many affiliations along service lines, this will be the first full alliance with an entire health system.”

UK President Eli Capilouto said in the email, “Many people with UK HealthCare – starting with Dr. Newman and his senior team – have worked long and hard to make today possible. We will be communicating more in the coming months about this initiative, but I hope you share with me a sense of excitement for what we are doing to help create a healthier Kentucky.”

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