The University of Louisville and Norton Healthcare officials will meet next week to discuss issues surrounding Norton’s intention to partner with UK Healthcare in running Kosair Children’s Hospital, the university and healthcare system said on Tuesday.
“Both organizations have agreed that there be a meeting early next week to discuss the legal issues which Norton believes must be resolved before productive discussions can occur regarding an update to the existing 2008 academic affiliation agreement,” said Thomas Johnson, a spokesman for Norton.
A UofL spokesman said the meeting regarded a ”new, detailed academic affiliation agreement for pediatric services with Norton Healthcare.”
David Dunn, UofL’s executive vice president for health affairs, said in a statement: “We are very pleased that Norton has finally accepted our many invitations to meet. We certainly think this is a positive step in the process. We hope that, during the meeting, we can address the core business issues, try to move forward with securing a long-term agreement, and leave this dispute in the past.”
Here’s the background for all of this: UofL officials blasted the proposed partnership soon after it was announced in August—they said they were unaware that it was happening and that they too had been in negotiations with Norton. This culminated in threats from UofL to begin an eviction process against Norton for the Kosair Children’s property; Norton filed a lawsuit last week to resolve whether UofL can, in fact, evict Norton from the property.
Norton runs Kosair Children’s but the hospital sits on state property. The lease calls for the property to be used to benefit UofL; many of Kosair Children’s doctors are UofL faculty members, and UofL uses the hospital for teaching. Norton has said that that won’t change.
The plan between Norton and UK Healthcare—which is part of the University of Kentucky—is meant to address financial concerns. In a joint statement last month, they said: “Kentucky’s children’s hospitals must also become more competitive to attract a broader base of patients.”
(UK Healthcare runs Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington.)
Dunn countered that “the deal attempt by Norton to control resources and referrals and maintain its financial bottom line as one of the top ten wealthiest not-for-profit companies in the health care arena.”
Norton has asked a judge to expedite the court date for the lawsuit filed last week, Johnson said.