After eight months of discussion, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare (JHSMH) /Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services (JHHS), Catholic Health Initiatives and its Kentucky-based St. Joseph Health System, University of Louisville Hospital/James Graham Brown Cancer Center and the University of Louisville have signed a Letter of Intent to take the next logical step to merge into a statewide health services organization to improve the quality of care for the people of Kentucky.
The Letter of Intent clears the way for the partners to begin formally discussing details of a possible new organization and negotiation of a formal agreement.
According to JHSMH Board Chair LouAnn Atlas, since last June’s announcement that discussions were being held, the parties have been exploring how they can transform health care delivery within the Commonwealth. “It has become clear,” she said, “that we must apply our best thinking to share leading practices and pool our resources to reshape the delivery of health care in Kentucky.”
“Our intent,” said JHHS Board Chair Gerald Temes, M.D., “is to partner with physicians and integrate our services to provide patients with the full continuum of care.” He pointed out that when the merger takes place, it will include a commitment to maintain Jewish Hospital as a tertiary care center in Louisville and to preserve its Jewish heritage. “There also is a commitment among all of the partner organizations to honor and respect the religious heritages of each entity,” said Temes. “Our practices will be in concert with Catholic and Jewish ethical laws.”
When finalized, the new entity will have a statewide reach. It will expand the Academic Medical Center in Louisville to include the UofL Hospital, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Jewish Hospital and Frazier Rehab Institute and expand the research and UofL’s teaching programs statewide teaching program. Each organization will bring its expertise and high level of care to more than two millions patients annually at more than 90 locations throughout the state.
The organizations are developing plans to address changes brought about by health care reform, medically underserved communities, health challenges from cancer, cardiovascular problems, obesity and stroke, innovative uses of medical research and technology, training of medical professionals and a physician shortage. The federal government estimates the state will be short 3,000 physicians by 2020.
Extending care throughout the state is a significant principle behind the group’s efforts. The combined organization will include more than 3,000 physicians throughout the state to serve patients in Kentucky and beyond. The three organizations have combined revenues of more than $2 billion.
While no definitive decisions have been made at this point, leaders of all four organizations believe there is enough commonality to continue discussions and will work toward the development of a definitive agreement, which could take approximately 12 months.