U of L says KentuckyOne owes it $46M and is to blame for decline in nursing staff

In an Oct. 4 letter to Louisville-based KentuckyOne Health, University of Louisville claims KentuckyOne has fallen behind in its obligations to support U of L Hospital and U of L's James Graham Brown Cancer Center, according to the Courier Journal.

KentuckyOne, a division of Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives, took over management of U of L Hospital in late 2012, with the promise to funnel $1.4 billion into operations over the next two decades. However, the health system hit a rough patch financially, and had to lay off 500 employees in 2014 and let go three top executives last month.

In the letter to KentuckyOne CEO Ruth Brinkley, U of L's Executive Vice President of Health Affairs Greg Postel, MD, said KentuckyOne's failure to release funds held in hospital accounts is hindering operation of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

In a statement, KentuckyOne spokesman David McArthur said the system has paid $524 million to U of L since March 2013 and intends to meet all of its financial obligations per the agreement. However, "U of L has not provided details on the allocation of tens of millions of this investment. Like many prominent organizations in Kentucky, we have questions regarding the university's use of financial investment and seek further insight before continuing our planned financial obligations," said Mr. McArthur.

In the letter, Dr. Postel also claims "the number and quality of nursing staff has severely declined" since KentuckyOne began managing U of L Hospital.

In an email sent to university officials in June, J. David Richardson, MD, vice chair of surgery at U of L Hospital, brought attention to what he called "unsafe working conditions" and serious patient safety issues at the hospital since management was turned over to KentuckyOne. In July, an inspection by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family found deficiencies in nursing services and intensive care endangered three patients. The state subsequently determined the hospital had corrected the deficiencies, according to the Courier Journal.

"We have been very clear that recruitment and retention of top nursing and clinical talent is a priority for KentuckyOne Health and University of Louisville Hospital," said Mr. McArthur from KentuckyOne. "We have added nurses, reduced turnover and implemented a range of programs to strengthen quality, safety and patient care and employee support."

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