Louisville, Lexington hospitals one step closer to merger

This map shows the counties in Kentucky that could be represented by the combined network.
This map shows the counties in Kentucky that could be represented by the combined network.

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – Big changes could be coming to the healthcare industry not just in Louisville, but across all of Kentucky.

Some big names could soon come under one umbrella:  University of Louisville Hospital ; Jewish Hospital and Saint Mary's Healthcare; and the Saint Joseph Health System, all while uncertain times in the industry lie ahead.

"This partnership will answer the demands of the proposed healthcare legislation and will reshape the health care landscape in Kentucky and the region," said Robert Hewett, who would become the new health system board chair.

In some ways, it's nothing new, like with Jewish Hospital's partnership formed decades ago.

"Our forefathers made the commitment to partner with the U of L School of Medicine to invest jointly in future physicians, nurses, and researchers," said Dr. Gerald Temes with Jewish.

By expanding that network with health care providers like St. Joe in Lexington, the new network claims it will mean better health care and more resources, serving a half million people across Kentucky.

"It will be about greater access to care, especially in under served areas, new models of care and treatments," said Michael Rowan, Executive Vice President of Catholic Health Initiatives.

A new medical robot is one of the tools to aide in surgeries that can be done from far away.  Despite the new resources, the new network says costs won't go up.  In fact, they expect to save about $150 million and say they'll pass it on.

"Improved efficiencies, reduction in a duplication of resources, etc.," said Paul Edgett, III, Senior VP of Catholic Health Initiatives on how that money would be saved.

That "reduction" leaves open the possibility of job cuts, but officials will only say that's not in their immediate plans.

By the numbers, the partnership will be made up of 91 locations, receive a total capital boost of $420 million, with an additional $200 million in the Louisville academic medical center.

The partnership agreement still must receive regulatory and Church approvals before becoming effective, which could take 12 months.

"There is so much more we can accomplish together. Most important, we will be increasing access to basic and advanced health services. That will lead to improving the health not only of individual patients, but of entire communities," said Bob Hewett, who will be the first chair of the system's community board of trustees. Hewett is a long-time board member of the Saint Joseph Health System, including his time as chair of its predecessor board (Saint Joseph HealthCare). "At the same time, we will work to lower costs as we advocate for the poor and under served in our communities," he said.

Plans call for Catholic Health Initiatives to make an incremental capital infusion of $320 million in support of the system's mission and health care services statewide. In addition, the new system will invest $200 million in capital to expand the academic medical center in Louisville and $100 million in statewide health care services.

"We see a healthier future for the Commonwealth," said Hewett, "by combining our efforts to address the serious health challenges faced by the people of Kentucky."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association, Kentucky ranks among the 10 states with the worst health indicators in the nation for cancer, obesity and death due to heart disease and stroke. More than half of the state is designated as medically under served and there is a growing scarcity of physicians across Kentucky.

The network will include hospitals, clinics, specialty institutions, home health agencies, satellite primary care centers and physician groups with 91 locations combined.

Until they have received regulatory approvals, the partners will continue to operate as separate organizations.

About the health care networks:

Jewish Hospital & St. Marys HealthCare (JHSMH)  <http://www.jhsmh.org>is a regional health network providing both primary and specialty medical care in more than 70 health care facilities with approximately 7,850 team members and 1,900 patient beds in Kentucky and southern Indiana. It has been nationally ranked in the top 25 percent of Medicare-certified agencies.

Saint Joseph Health System includes eight regional facilities with 1,012 licensed beds, approximately 5,000 employees and 1,300 physicians on its medical staffs. Combined, the member facilities have been recognized 20 times as being among the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation by Thomson Reuters.

The University of Louisville Hospital,  <http://www.uoflhealthcare.org/>established in 1817, is a 404-bed facility and the primary adult teaching hospital for the UofL School of Medicine. It operates the region's only adult Level I trauma center and operates Kentucky's first certified stroke center, first nationally accredited breast center and first hospital-based telemedicine network. Aligned with the hospital, The James Graham Brown Cancer Center offers the area's most advanced cancer treatment with specialists working in multidisciplinary teams who have received national recognition for research and participation in clinical trials, as well as translating research into today's medical practice. 

Catholic Health Initiatives is a national, nonprofit health organization with headquarters in Denver. The faith-based system operates in 19 states and includes 72 hospitals; and 40 long-term care, assisted- and residential-living facilities; and two community health services organizations. CHI is the nation's third-largest Catholic health care system.

Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services traces its history to 1903 when a group of prominent Jewish businessmen met and founded a hospital to provide health care for poor immigrant Jews and to create a non-sectarian institution that would treat both paying and non-paying members of the entire community and provide a setting where Jewish physicians could practice medicine, pursue research and treat patients. In the decades since its founding, Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services has grown into a nationally recognized organization that has contributed a number of medical firsts in the world, nation and region.

The University of Louisville is Kentucky's premier metropolitan research university. Boasting more than 170 fields of study in 12 colleges and schools, UofL offers its 22,000 students world-class opportunities in many nationally and internationally ranked undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. Through its service mission, the university is addressing the needs of Louisville and other Kentucky metropolitan areas with hundreds of partnerships in education, business and economic development, and healthcare. One of America's fastest-growing research universities, UofL is focusing on translational research that can move quickly from the lab to the marketplace.

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