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UofL Won’t Buy Jewish Hospital, Other KentuckyOne Properties

The University of Louisville is ending talks to buy KentuckyOne Health, which includes the city’s struggling Jewish Hospital.

In a press release Wednesday evening, the university said it hadn’t been able to find a suitable partner for the deal, and trying to acquire KentuckyOne on its own would have put the university at financial risk.

“We regret ending our talks with CHI, but we must do what is fiscally responsible for the University of Louisville,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi in the release. “Without a viable partner, we do not have the resources necessary to make the acquisition a reality.”

UofL has been exploring a purchase of KentuckyOne since December and issued a Request for Proposals for potential partners. In April, the university announced it was extending its academic affiliation agreement with KentuckyOne for another 90 days because the RFP process hadn’t turned up any suitable options.

UofL Health and Jewish Hospital have a long-standing business relationship. The hospital’s parent company pays UofL millions of dollars every year; in return, UofL physicians practice at Jewish Hospital (and the Frazier Rehab Institute). Jewish is home to UofL’s cardiology and transplant program, and some UofL medical students do their residencies there.

In the news release, the university said Catholic Health Initiatives — KentuckyOne Health’s parent company — will extend the academic affiliation agreement to ensure the programs continue. If they can’t continue at the current facilities, CHI “will assign those residencies to another facility requested by the university” according to the release.

“KentuckyOne Health is disappointed that the university was not able to secure a financial partner,” said Deborah Lee-Eddie, interim market CEO for KentuckyOne Health. “We will now continue our discussions with other interested organizations.”

Lee-Eddie didn’t elaborate in the release what those organizations may be.

The 462-bed Jewish Hospital has been struggling financially recently, and its parent company has been trying to sell it to various parties; before UofL, it seemed likely that Jewish would be sold to a hedge fund. Experts have speculated that without a buyer, the hospital could close because it’s not financially viable; last year, the Courier Journal reported: “Jewish and Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital lost a combined $41 million in operating earnings during the nine months ended in March [2018].”

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