Different 'religions' in merger means UofL outpatient center will handle certain procedures, Ramsey says

06/15/2011 09:05 PM

University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey said he doesn’t expect a conflict of cultures amid the merger of Louisville-based hospitals that seeks to blend a religious-based health care system with an academic-based teaching and research hospital.

Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives will be the majority partner in the three-way deal announced this week that also involves the University of Louisville Hospital and Jewish Hospital.

And while some medical procedures are frowned on by the Catholic Church — such as in vitro fertilization or birth control procedures, such as vasectomies for men — Ramsey said those procedures will continue to be performed and taught at U of L’s outpatient treatment center — just not the hospitals.

“Those will not be performed as part of the new network. Our faculty do that and they do that as part of our teaching program and our research program and will continue to do that,” Ramsey said. (see the 8:40 mark of clip 1)

“We have a world-class outpatient center on our campus. That’s not part of the merger,” he added during an interview on Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics — one day after the merger became official.

Catholic Health Initiatives, which manages St. Joseph Hospitals in Kentucky, will control 10 seats on the board of the new yet-to-be-named hospital network. U of L will control four spots, as will Jewish Hospital.

Ramsey acknowledged that the merger will be an adjustment but that the “strong affiliation agreement” as part of the merger outlines the university’s priorities.

“Now, this will be bringing together three different cultures,” he said. “So it will be the Catholic, the Jewish and the academic religions coming together,” he said at 8:20.

In general, Catholic Health Initiatives pumps much needed cash into the new network, with an initial investment of $320 million.

Jewish Hospital has space in its buildings for operations and transplants and expansions for additional research.

“This will give us the space,” Ramsey said. “It will also … give us an organization in Denver, Colorado, that has deep pockets — that has 79 hospitals in 19 states but has been in Kentucky.”

And the University of Louisville brings a workforce of noted physicians, specialists and researchers.

Ramsey also answered questions about how the merger will affect the care for indigent citizens in the region. Currently, the city of Louisville and state of Kentucky pitch in money to help cover care for poor and uninsured patients. (His answer comes about 4 minutes into the first segment.)

“We’ll be looking at better delivery models,” he said. He added that he expects the new network to “continue to receive” the state and local government funding.

Ramsey also said the merger won’t affect faculty research that might include stem cell research — another controversial topic among Catholics.

“The things we do academically will also be outside the merger,” he said to start the second segment of the interview.

Ramsey also said the merger agreement allows for extra profits to come back to the university, according to the agreement.

“The first 10% of the profits come to the University of Louisville to support our education and our teaching and research mission,” he said around the 5 minute mark in the second segment. “Beyond that the rest of the dividends will be distributed based upon equity and our equity share is 16%.”

The new entity also will be treated like any non-profit hospital network when it comes to open-records laws even though it includes the U of L hospital that is affiliated with a state-funded university.


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