The hospital merger that is meant to enhance care across Kentucky will result in some procedures being moved to facilities outside of the merger.The University of Louisville has expanded its decade-old partnership with Baptist Hospital East to relocate procedures that will eventually be banned at U of L Hospital. The hospital is merging with Jewish Hospital and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives. Afterward, all doctors will have to follow Catholic care directives in merged facilities. That means women will not be able to have their tubes tied at University Hospital.
U of L has been in talks to move tubal ligations to Baptist Hospital East for weeks. The partnership means that women who want to have a ligation after a caesarean section will have to plan to deliver at Baptist Hospital.
“It would be exactly the same as a patient with a brain tumor who is seen at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and is told that their neurosurgery would be done at Baptist Hospital whereas they might come back to University Hospital for the chemotherapy and radiotherapy,” says School of Medicine Dead Edward Halperin.
U of L officials announced the partnership today, ending weeks of speculation and rumors. Officials say differences in insurance coverage for U of L and Baptist Hospital are minimal but will be worked out and transportation will be provided for indigent patients.
“Obviously these guys have never been in labor. To transport a woman past hospital after hospital just to get to Baptist East is a little bit ludicrous,” says merger critic Honi Goldman.
“You’re still going to have a built-in time lag for these people and that’s just not fair and it’s not right,” says attorney and former nurse Beverly Glascock, who is also a critic of the merger. “This is a community hospital and they should try to make this hospital work for the community and not just the members of the merger.”
Goldman says the partnership doesn’t resolve ongoing concerns about University Hospital–a top choice for uninsured and low-income residents–merging partners have not adequately explained how end-of-life care issues will be addressed.
The school of medicine is not part of the merger and other procedures banned by the Catholic Church will likely be provided in U of L clinics or facilities, if they aren’t offered in them already. The procedures include abortions, contraception counseling and vasectomies.
The merger still requires approval from the governor and attorney general. Both have raised questions about the future of reproductive and end-of-life care at University Hospital, which has a number of low-income patients.