Hospital Merger Before Lawmakers

Aug 17, 2011

The proposed merger of three hospital systems prompted questions from a panel of Kentuckylawmakers Wednesday.

Under the plan, the University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital, along with St. Mary’s Healthcare and St. Joseph Healthcare would merge. Most of the questions asked by lawmakers centered on the availability of reproductive health care.  Since Roman Catholics oppose procedures like tubal ligations, they would no longer be offered at these medical facilities. Instead, hospital officials say such treatments would be offered at facilities not involved in the merger

.Louisville representative Mary Lou Marzian wanted specifics.

 “They’re gonna go to another facility, you know, outside facility.  Where is the outside facility?   How is that gonna happen?” asked Marzian.

When it’s not an emergency, officials said, a woman could receive reproductive health care at another hospital.   But, when care is urgently needed, the Chair of obstetrics-gynecology at University of Louisville Hospital  Sharmilla Makhija  says no patient would be turned away.

“If there is ever an emergency, it doesn’t matter what hospital she shows up at, she should be taken care of, based on standard of care practice.  She shows up at U of L, she will be taken care of under our standard of care best clinical practices,” said Makhija.

The merger of three major hospital systems could make  finding a doctor easier in Kentucky.  Paul Edgitt with Catholic Health Initiatives says they hope to train more doctors and make others more available.

“Between a combination of both priming the pipeline with U of L and opening new opportunities for medical student and resident training along with new care delivery modalities like virtual care delivery models, we really do think this is gonna have an enormous impact on the physician workforce,” added Edgitt.

The proposed merger will take at least six months to complete.   It’s not a done deal, but as one hospital executive said during the legislative meeting, there are ‘signed documents with the intent to merge.’