Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro today wrote that the board of 440-bed Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, exercised good faith when it terminated its joint operating agreement with its parent corporation, the six-hospital Health Alliance of Cincinnati. Earlier this year Petro intervened in the hospitals dispute with Health Alliance under his authority to oversee charitable trusts and organizations. Petro said the Christ Hospital board concluded that their charitable mission was being jeopardized by remaining in the Health Alliance. In January Christ Hospital announced its intent to withdraw from the system and since then two other system hospitals, 177-bed St. Lukes Hospital West, Florence, Ky., and 222-bed St. Lukes Hospital East, Fort Thomas, Ky., similarly announced their intent to leave. In September Christ Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment seeking judicial permission to withdraw. Christ Hospital Chairman Mike Keating said Petros memorandum supports the boards decision and in a statement called on the Health Alliance to drop its lawsuit and resolve the dispute. With cooperation and collaboration, not litigation, we can serve the best interests of the community and provide for an orderly transition of the Christ Hospital to an independent hospital in a manner that addresses the interests of all parties.
Health Alliance spokeswoman Gail Myers said Petro's 10-page memorandum is "an opinion and does not have any legal weight in the court case." Myers said the attorney general's brief is "simply incorrect" and "the hospitals had no legal ability to leave."
A trial slated for Nov. 14 has been postponed until February 2007. -- by Mark Taylor