The U.S. hospital sector has long struggled with how to manage secular-based hospitals alongside religious-backed hospitals, complicating matters both before and after a merger or acquisition between the two types of organizations.
Over the last decade or so, the integration process at several of the hospitals has forced executives to have frank discussions about what faith means to their organization's mission and values, and more broadly, what it means to be a faith-based provider in the 21st century.
It's fairly well-known that Catholic hospitals follow tighter restrictions regarding reproductive services and other types of medical care, but Jewish hospitals quietly have faced their own set of challenges over the years in combining with secular or Christian hospital systems.
KentuckyOne Health, Louisville, was formed through the combination of Jewish and Catholic hospitals, and has settled on an approach to managing hospitals with different religious affiliations. The system was created by the combination of Louisville's Jewish Hospital and several Catholic hospitals in 2012. KentuckyOne made a very intentional effort in the two years after its founding to preserve its Jewish roots. But now its parent, Catholic Health Initiatives, Englewood, Colo., is looking to sell some of its facilities and recently bought out its partner, the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, to further that process. A sale to another organization likely means that KentuckyOne officials would have to review its approach again.
Still, KentuckyOne's decision to preserve faith-based initiatives in its culture is fairly common. Historically, Jewish hospitals have provided patients access to kosher food and rabbis and respected the rules of the Jewish Sabbath and holidays. More notably, the hospitals protected patients from Christian proselytizing and provided work for Jewish physicians, who in many cases had trouble getting work at non-Jewish hospitals.