Friday, January 6, 2012

Beshear talks to University Hospital officials about future

Gov. Steve Beshear met with officials with University Hospital officials yesterday to discuss ways the facility can take part in a merger. Last week, Beshear rejected a much-publicized proposal that would have unified University Hospital with Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, which is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives.

Beshear called the meeting "productive" and said he would get back to officials next week, reports Patrick Howington of The Courier-Journal.  "We remain committed to supporting University Hospital in reaching our common goals of care for our most vulnerable citizens while maintaining sound financial footing for the institution," Beshear said. James Taylor, CEO of University Hospital, declined to go into detail about the one-hour meeting.

Because Saint Joseph would have had majority control in the initial deal, the other facilities would have had to adhere to Catholic health directives, which affect procedures such as elective abortions, sterilizations, artificial insemination and euthanasia. Those limitations raised concerns, and Beshear said his major reservation was that the move would mean "the loss of a control of a public asset," meaning University Hospital.

Hospital officials said earlier this week they will continue to work together to put together a proposal that Beshear "would feel compelled to approve,'" reports Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal. "The jockeys are not changing right now," University Hospital spokesman David McArthur told her. CHI spokeswoman Mary Elise Beigert said her company "is evaluating potential options." Jewish & St. Mary's officials had no comment. (Read more)

In an editorial, The Courier-Journal applauded Beshear's decision to reject the merger. "Gov. Beshear and the Attorney General [Jack Conway] both hit the nail right on the head," the paper said. "It's time to drop this misbegotten merger effort, and seek other ways to strengthen the local hospitals." (Read more)

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