Friday, October 7, 2011

Attorney general rules Louisville's University Hospital is a public institution

Louisville's University Hospital is a public institution, not a private one, which means the state gets a say about the proposed merger between the hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Lexington-based St. Joseph Health System, Attorney General Jack Conway said in an open-records decision Wednesday.

Conway said University Medical Center Inc., which runs the hospital, "was established and created and is controlled by the University of Louisville." U of L has long claimed University Hospital is private and refused to hand over records requested by the ACLU of Kentucky and The Courier-Journal. The ruling means the documents pertaining to the merger itself would have to be made public. Because it deals with an open-government issue, that part of Conway's opinion has the force of law unless overturned in court.

"The finding reinforces the earlier positions by Conway and Gov. Steve Beshear that the deal cannot take place without the approval of state government, which owns the hospital property and granted the contract for University Medical Center to operate it," The C-J's Patrick Howington reports. U of L had said the hospital is private because it is run by a corporation. (Read more)

The ruling could affect the merger because of the religious implications. Saint Joseph is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives, which follows Catholic directives that prohibit abortion, sterilization and euthanasia. For more on the merger, click here.

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