Friday, July 19, 2019

Jewish Hospital quits heart transplants; U of L says there's less need for them, and can't start a program of its own right now

Jewish Hospital is in downtown Louisville.
Financially ailing Jewish Hospital, which was once a national leader in heart transplants but has done only one this year, says it is putting the program on "long-term inactivation" while maintaining other transplant programs.

Hospital President Ron Waldridge said in an email to employees that the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, which directs human-tissue transplants in the U.S., "changed how heart donation are allocated" last October, Chris Larson reports for Louisville Business First. "The change resulted in fewer heart transplant cases being sent to Jewish Hospital. . . . Transplant programs must perform at least 10 heart transplant procedures over a rolling 12-month period to stay in compliance with federal standards."

The University of Louisville collaborates on the program. "U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and other U of L leaders who spoke to media downplayed the impact that stopping the program would have on the university's education mission or on U of L Health, the organization that oversees the clinical aspect of the school's medical endeavors," Larson reports.

Toni Ganzel, dean of U of L's School of Medicine, told Larson that many medical schools do not have transplant programs, "but we saw [the program] as a really valuable part of being an academic medical center."

Tom Miller, CEO of U of L Health, told Larson that advances in technology have diminished the need for heart transplants. "And he added that U of L doesn't have the space to add a heart transplant program to U of L Hospital, which is currently operating at capacity." Miller said, "That doesn't mean that we won't some time in the future —we just don't have that today." 

KentuckyOne Health and its new corporate parent CommonSpirit Health have been trying to sell Jewish Hospital and other facilities in Louisville and Shelbyville for more than two years. "U of L announced in June that it was abandoning its plan to buy assets from KentuckyOne, citing an inability to find a partner within the timeline KentuckyOne set for the talks," Larson notes.

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