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KentuckyOne to end management of University of Louisville Hospital

Louisville-based KentuckyOne Health will begin loosening ties with University of Louisville Hospital under a new agreement that takes effect this week. Come July 1, 2017, University Medical Center in Louisville will resume management of the academic medical center and its affiliated cancer center.

KentuckyOne has operated ULH since 2012. While the two organizations will continue their academic affiliation, a new agreement — which "resolves all disputes previously raised" — contains the following changes:

  • University Medical Center is expected to take over management of ULH and its James Graham Brown Cancer Center July 1, 2017.
  • Until then, KentuckyOne, University Medical Center and University of Louisville will continue implementing projects that involve up to $44.8 million in capital investments.
  • The university will release its rights to three seats on KentuckyOne's board.

Several instances of conflict between the two organizations were reported in the past several months. In October, U of L's Executive Vice President of Health Affairs Greg Postel, MD, notified KentuckyOne leadership that the system had fallen behind on its financial obligations to support the university's teaching hospital. The shortage of $46 million in payments hindered operations at the cancer center, Dr. Postel claimed.

KentuckyOne replied by noting a lack of information on how the $524 million the system paid to U of L since March 2013 was allocated. "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," a KentuckyOne spokesperson said in October. 

There was also an executive shakeup at the hospital in June when Ken Marshall resigned from his role as president.

Shortly after that, a prominent surgeon at ULH emailed school officials about "unsafe working conditions" and serious patient safety concerns at the hospital since KentuckyOne assumed management. A state review of the hospital in July found overloaded nurses and intensive care deficiencies endangered three patients. KentuckyOne submitted an action plan for improvement following the investigation. 

With news of the pending KentuckyOne-ULH split, a shared statement from the two parties as well as University Medical Center reads: "This decision was agreed upon by all parties as the most effective way to collaborate in care for the community, moving direct operations of the academic medical center to UMC and ensuring continuation of innovative and high-quality patient care and clinical training via KentuckyOne Health facilities."

Dr. Postel also included a statement that the organizations today are "presented with a very different environment than when we signed the joint operating agreement and revised the academic affiliation agreement in 2012."

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