LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare/Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services, Catholic Health Initiatives and its Kentucky-based operation, Saint Joseph Health System, University of Louisville Hospital/James Graham Brown Cancer Center and the University of Louisville have agreed to sign a Letter of Intent to merge into a statewide health services organization to improve the quality of care for the people of Kentucky.
The LOI follows nearly eight months of discussions and represents the next step toward the eventual creation of the network.
"Since our June announcement acknowledging our discussions, we have explored how we can transform health care delivery within the Commonwealth," said LouAnn Atlas, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare Board Chair. "It has become clear to us that we must apply our best thinking, share leading practices and pool our resources to reshape the delivery of health care in Kentucky. Our intent is to partner with physicians and integrate our services to provide patients with the full continuum of care," said Gerald Temes, MD, Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services Board Chair.
When finalized, the new entity will:
- Have statewide geographic reach
- Include a capital investment by Catholic Health Initiatives exceeding $300 million throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky
- Expand the Academic Medical Center in Louisville to include the University of Louisville Hospital, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Jewish Hospital and Frazier Rehab Institute
- Extend the research and teaching programs of the University of Louisville statewide
- Be governed by a community board of trustees representing the Commonwealth that will have fiduciary responsibilities
"Through the creation of this integrated, comprehensive network, there will not be a health care need we cannot meet," said Gene Woods, CEO of Saint Joseph Health System. "Each of our organizations has unique areas of expertise and we will bring that high level of care to more than 2 million patients annually at more than 90 locations throughout the state, ranging from critical access hospitals to major tertiary facilities capable of transplant procedures."
As part of a new model of health care, the organizations are developing plans to address:
- Changes brought by health care reform
- Medically underserved communities
- Health challenges faced by Kentuckians, including cancer, cardiovascular problems, obesity and stroke
- Innovative uses of medical research and technology, such as telemedicine
- Training of medical professionals and a physician shortage
Combined, the organizations will include more than 3,000 physicians throughout the state to provide care for all Kentuckians, and others throughout the region and nation. The three organizations have combined revenues of more than $2 billion.
"Our vision is to use our ingenuity and collective resources to re-form how we deliver health care in Kentucky. We see this network as the means to implement a new model of care to improve the health of citizens and communities across the Commonwealth," said Kevin E. Lofton, president and CEO, Catholic Health Initiatives.
Extending care throughout the state is a significant principle behind the groups' efforts. The federal government estimates that the state will be short 3,000 physicians by 2020. Growing the educational and training opportunities for new physicians also will be part of the discussions.
"If we truly are going to meet our mandate of improving the general welfare and economic well-being of the people of Kentucky, we must help meet their health care needs. We must have more physicians, especially in rural and underserved areas within the state," said James R. Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville. "This means we have to make it attractive for people to set up medical practices in communities that have not had services. Additionally, we want to attract people into the medical field from these communities who are interested in providing better health care services to their families, friends and neighbors."
Since beginning talks in March 2010, the organizations have explored many subjects including equity, governance, the role of academic medicine in a new entity, similarities of purpose among the parties, and more. While no definitive decisions have been made at this point, leaders of all four organizations believe there is enough commonality to continue discussions and will work toward a definitive agreement. Although no specific deadline has been determined, this stage can take approximately 12 months.