UofL appears open to dealing with multiple partners in health care acquisition

| Photo by Tony Pacheco

The University of Louisville appears willing to deal with multiple partners in its attempt to acquire the struggling Jewish Hospital and other Louisville area medical facilities KentuckyOne Health has been trying to sell for nearly two years.

One of the potential acquisition partners asked the university via email whether the institution would entertain a partnership to purchase just Our Lady of Peace Hospital, one of up to nine facilities the university may buy.

“Yes,” the university answered.


The university on Feb. 19 had issued a request for proposal, a formal step to identifying potential acquisition partners, though the scope of any purchase, a potential purchase price and details about cooperation among the parties had yet to be determined.

The university late Friday afternoon posted an update on its procurement website to answer questions from potential partners. The update included three correspondences with 22 questions. A UofL spokesman said that as the RFP process is confidential, he could not say from how many parties the three inquiries came.

Beyond the Our Lady of Peace question, the inquiries dealt with anything from revenue and payer mix to color codes in a graphic.

For some answers, the university referred the questioner back to the RFP, for others it provided answers, and at least five times, the institution answered that the requested information “is not available at this time.”

The university could not answer, for example, why Jewish Hospital revenue declined from 2017 to 2018 nor provide information about how profitable its physician group is without pediatric services. Those services were excluded from the RFP because the university is exploring a pediatric services collaboration with Norton Healthcare.

The medical facilities KentuckyOne is trying to sell, especially Jewish, are critical to the university and serve as a staging area for many School of Medicine-related functions, including cardiology, organ transplantation and neurosurgery services. The hospital has been struggling financially, and prolonged discussions between KentuckyOne and prospective buyer BlueMountain Capital Management had raised doubts about the facility’s survival.

The closing of Jewish Hospital, a 462-bed downtown facility that employs thousands of highly skilled and paid health care professionals and takes care of tens of thousands of patients, would have far-reaching consequences for many parts of the Louisville community, sources have told Insider.

While University President Neeli Bendapudi said the institution was casting “a wide net” in its search for a joint venture partner, interested parties have to respond by 4 p.m. March 8. The short time frame and other factors had prompted health care experts to tell Insider that they didn’t believe the university would get many responses to its inquiry.

The two other major health care players in Louisville, Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health, told Insider Thursday that they still were analyzing the RFP and had not yet decided whether they would respond.

For much of last year, alternative asset management firm BlueMountain Capital Management, based in New York City, was the exclusive negotiating partner to acquire the assets. The firm and KentuckyOne Health have said their discussions are continuing. BlueMountain and Nashville-based Ardent Health, which also is reported to be among the potential UofL partners, have declined to comment on the university’s RFP.