LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The merger between Kentucky's major hospitals is a topic that has everyone talking and expressing concerns about the huge deal.
Under it, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare; Saint Joseph Health System; and the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center would all merge together in the Louisville area, along withLexington's Saint Joseph Health System.
"One of our biggest concerns is just a lack of transparency that has been evident throughout this entire process," said concerned citizen and attorney Beverly Glascock.
Hundreds of concerned citizens, and even hospital employees packed the Memorial Auditorium Wednesday night, after nearly 150 questions were submitted.
"This is the first time that the community itself has the opportunity to ask questions directly," said Bill Altman, Chairman of the Louisville Board of Health.
The merger was officially announced this summer, but a cloud of confusion lingers over several issues.
"Women's reproductive issues is a major focus; there's also the end of life issues, there are issues involving in vitro fertilization as well as stem cell research and how all that's going to be handled," Glascock said.
The Catholic Health Initiatives would control the lion's share of the merged health network, concerning many that the catholic faith would be shoved on non-Catholics who depend on the hospital.
"I would not want to go to my lawyer to have my tooth extracted and I wouldn't want to have catholic bishops telling my physician what he or she cannot do," Glascock said.
Officials took those questions, and claim that the Catholic beliefs wouldn't be forced on every hospital, but there would be some changes.
For example, contraceptives would no longer be available at hospitals, and tubal ligations would only be performed at Baptist Hospital East.
Jobs are another issue. When asked how the merger would impact jobs, Jim Taylor, CEO of University Hospital, told WAVE 3 News, "Well I think the answer is that ultimately we believe that this will be about growth and that there will be more jobs created as we provide more services throughout the state."
When asked if he foresaw any major job losses after this merger, Taylor said, "I think in any of this merger there is some consolidation that's always likely but in the end this is about growth and more jobs."
The Louisville Metro Board of Health Community Forum has prepared an 11 page Q and A guide. Click here to be taken to it.
The Louisville Board of Health also sounds off on the hospital merger. Click here to read it.
Earlier this summer, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said his office would closely look at the merger to make sure it doesn't violate any laws.
The merger was formally announced to the public in June of this year. It is expected to take up to a year before all the approvals could be granted, including approval from the Governor.