The University of Louisville is giving Norton Healthcare 30 days to back out of an agreement with the University of Kentucky to jointly operate Kosair Children’s Hospital.
Norton announced the partnership last week, saying it wanted to strengthen pediatric care in the commonwealth. This surprised U of L officials, who have also been trying to negotiate a similar contract with Norton.
“The very fact that Norton made that announcement absent any discussion with the U of L and has touted it as being, It’s all about better pediatric care, is absolutely nonsense,” says David Dunn, U of L’s executive vice president of health affairs.
U of L says the lease agreement for Kosair mentions the property “shall be used for the benefit of the University of Louisville,” and in letters to Norton, Dunn argues by partnering with UK it will diminish the service provided by U of L.
Dunn also argues if Norton breaches the lease agreement Kosair Children’s Hospital could become property of the state.
U of L has already acted on the assumption it would further partner with Norton and Kosair, Dunn says. The school has spent millions of dollars expanding operations at the hospital over the past few years, and U of L expected to be reimbursed under an eventual partnership, Dunn says.
“And they’ve [U of L] done it with the understanding that Norton at some point—we thought it was a long time ago—would make good on their promises, and these are verbal promises,” he says.
Dunn confirms he met with representatives from both Attorney General Jack Conway’s office and the governor’s office and today he sent a letter to Norton demanding U of L be reimbursed upwards of $24 million within the next month.
Norton officials have argued the basis of U of L’s claims and have said they’ve met all formal obligations so far. Norton officials declined to comment on this story.
Conway is investigating the matter and Dunn says he expects some response later this week.
In a written statement, Conway says: “I think that it is the role of state government, pursuant to the land lease agreement, to make certain that the management and operation of the children’s hospital properly benefits the University of Louisville School of Medicine.”
Dunn says he’s reached out to Norton officials to set up a meeting immediately.