What, if anything, is happening?
In their original RFP, the University of Louisville and University Medical Center, Inc. announced their intention to sign a Notification of Intent to close a deal with their preferred new partner/owner during the week of April 16. To be honest, I do not have a verifiable clue about what is going on. I have, however, heard many rumors from people closer the the potential players than I am. Since I have nothing better to write about, let me share a few of the most interesting of these. I do so to illustrate the span of concerns or perspectives that other observers have. Finally, in the absence of hard facts, l will suggest in a companion commentary what I think an agreement that is in the best interest of both our public University and the community it serves should look like. Continue reading “Behind Closed Red Doors at UofL.”
Not all of it good!
The University of Louisville just can’t catch a break. In today’s paper were two back-to-back reports commenting on entrepreneurial activities of University faculty and employees. In one, a faculty-associated private company gains an exclusive license for a potentially new cancer treatment at the Brown Cancer Center of University Hospital. No details are given regarding ownerships, nor discussion of the obvious potential conflicts of interest. The University has referred to its indigent and Medicaid patients as “teaching material.” At the very least, some public discussion about when using captive patient populations for commercial activities is appropriate.
A second report detailed the University’s hopes to recover some half-a-million dollars that were stolen by one of their Equine Industry Program employees over a four-year period. Lax oversight of one more of the University’s programs is reported to have allowed the ongoing theft to occur. Does anyone else see a pattern here?
The article by Chris Otts noted that the funding for the program came from “special state sources” related to the racing industry. I was still a lobbyist for UofL when that enabling legislation was passed. As I remember, funneling some money to the University was added to some racing legislation as a sweetener to help ensure passage. There were few restraints on the use of this windfall, and like some of the other earmarks the University received, it became vulnerable to theft, to waste, to misdirection, and for activities peripheral to the University’s principal mission.
With all this going on, I remain stunned by the audacity of the University’s demand for more secrecy rather than the transparency appropriate for a public institution. It seems to me, we are being taken for a ride.
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
April 4, 2012
A few weeks ago, following the collapse of the attempted merger/acquisition of University of Louisville Hospital by private interests, a respected member or the community asked me how we had arrived at a point where the advocates of the takeover failed so miserably to understand the critical issues of concern to the public. I attempted an explanation, but there is no simple answer to this complex issue. Here is the reply I offered. Continue reading “Is the University of Louisville Moving in the Right Direction or Not?”
I have been unsettled by the University of Louisville’s unseemly rush to have its own takeover by Catholic Health Initiatives approved before the overriding issue of whether it is a private hospital or not works its way through the courts. My discomfort is amplified because I have seen the University do this kind of thing before. For example, it was reported publicly that the University plans for finance the construction of a new instructional building for its medical school with tuition increases, especially for non-resident students. (Most of us think that medical students already graduate with exorbitant debt that distorts their career choices.) The University plans to increase its proportion of out-of-state medical students to leverage this unconstrained source of income. I was surprised to see the Medical School admit that it already has 25% non-resident students despite a Kentucky state law that specifically limits such students to 15%. If the University does not like a law, it has the right to try to change it, but not a right to ignore it. Because I believe this pattern of behavior is relevant to the current merger-mania, I wrote to the Attorney General of Kentucky about the matter. The text of my personal letter is below, and its supporting documents are available here. Continue reading “Is the University of Louisville a Scofflaw? Or Just Ethically Confused?”