The consortium matching the university with Jewish Hospital & St. Marys and Norton was formed based on the perception that the safety net hospital was seriously undercapitalized, Taylor said. They really did a public service stepping forward and taking a financial risk. The place wasnt in particularly good shape and, actually, I dont think anyone really knew what financial shape it was in because Columbia didnt disclose it.
UMC was run by a board with six members from the University of Louisville, and three each from Jewish Hospital & St. Marys and Norton. UMC will be run by a new 15-member board with eight representatives from the community and seven from the university.
In the decade of the partnership, fortunes have improved at University Hospital, even though it still receives local and state support as the primary indigent-care hospital in Louisville, according to Taylor. We have been successful and reinvested in the facility and now I think they find that (they are) having members on the board of a hospital that in some places is competing with them, and they recognized that and stepped aside, Taylor said.
The request for the partners to leave was a way for the public to understand that Jewish and Norton werent abandoning their role, that they havent pulled away from a commitment they made to the community, but were asked to leave so that we could continue the evolution of our governing process, Taylor said.
Bob Shircliff, president and CEO of Jewish Hospital & St. Marys, said in a written statement that city and state governments had asked Louisville providers to work collaboratively to strengthen the clinical and financial resources of University Hospital. After a decade of collaboration, that mission has been accomplished, Shircliff said. The natural evolution for University Hospital is to adopt a governance structure that will build upon the successes we have achieved over the last decade.
Stephen Williams, president and CEO of Norton, said the university began talking about a separation two years ago, with official notice and first discussions on a legal separation of the facilities coming last August. While work on cutting structural ties to UMC has been completed, Williams said much work remains on reaffirming longer standing links between Norton and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, some of which were never formalized in written agreements.
We value our relationship with the University of Louisville over the decades, Williams said. It goes back into the 1960s, and we hope this change wont damage those relationships.
Between Nortons flagship, 386-bed Norton Hospital, in downtown Louisville and its 244-bed Kosair Childrens Hospital across the street, there are 135 residents in training in emergency medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry, and general, neurological, oncologic and orthopedic spinal surgeries.
We provide about $22 million annually to some kind of resident support, Williams said. We value the academic relationship. We want to continue to have the academic relationships in these programs. But those will be reviewed as the plans of the new UMC organization unfold, he said. It would make no sense for us to financially support programs if the medical school seeks to duplicate and compete with the programs we have at our facility. We dont know that is the intent, but that remains to be seen.