LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A public forum planned for Wednesday night is an opportunity for the community to ask questions about the proposed merger between UofL Hospital and Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Health Services. This topic has caused a spirited debate in the Louisville community with many questions asked about the impact the merger will have on healthcare services if it is approved.
The Metro Board of Health is sponsoring this event, which begins at 6 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium in Louisville.
"The primary focus of why the board of health got involved is because we were concerned that the community was not fully aware of the hospital merger. They weren't aware of what was happening and they weren't aware of the potential consequences of the proposed merger between Jewish Hospital and St, Mary's Health Services with U of L Hospital," said Gabriela Alcalde, a member of the Board of Health.
The forum will begin with a presentation from representatives of all the parties involved in the merger. Questions that have been emailed to the board and from the audience will then be asked of the panel.
"We are really focused on having the community there," said Alcalde. "We'll have questions that have been email to us and we've been compiling them. We'll also be collecting questions from those who attend the forum, so we really hope the community will have a sense that their questions are being answered. Obviously, they can only be answered by those who understand what's happening with the hospital merger. We will have representatives from all the entities involved there to answer those questions."
The Rev. Gerome Sutton with the African American Think Tank is one of many voices wanting answers to how the merger will affect the indigent and women's access to medical care.
"Will people still be provided the same kind of treatment at University Hospital? Will they have the kind of access they have normally had at University Hospital?" asked Sutton. "Then what about women that will have to suffer needlessly this treatment at another facility and they have set aside 15 million dollars for this to happen and what is going to happen when the 15 million dollars runs out. What if CHI decides to pull out in five years like they've done in other city, who's going to bear the brunt of that financial damage?"
Sutton is coordinating another community forum to be held the next night, Thursday Oct. 20 at the African American Heritage Museum on W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.
If time runs out on Wednesday night before all questions are answered at the Board of Health forum, participants will answer the remaining questions in writing which can be found on the Board of Health's website.