I have been advised by two sources that KentuckyOne Health will soon announce the elimination of several system-wide or senior executive positions designed to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and emphasize local leadership. The as-yet unconfirmed names of the individuals currently in those positions include clinical and operational executives at the highest level. I am unaware if the names of included leadership comprise a complete list or represent the tip of the iceberg of things to come. Perhaps as an early indicator, the senior physician executive at Jewish and Sts. Mary & Elisabeth Hospitals left that position a few weeks ago. As a company outsider, it is impossible to know all the reasons for changes in personnel. These often include the personal career plans of the employee, but also concerns about the fit between employer and employee in meeting the goals of the particular corporation. KentuckyOne may well once again be feeling financial pressures that cannot be denied. It has laid-off employees in the past to decrease expenses – a strategy that in the longer run was not entirely successful at University Hospital.
On the other hand.
One of the most common complaints I hear from my University of Louisville colleagues reflects what is considered to be unwanted and disruptive outsourcing or other “outsider intrusion” on the part of Catholic Health Initiatives or KentuckyOne management that does not allow for appropriate local initiative or control, or which treats all hospitals the same no matter where they are located, or fails to acknowledge the particular needs of their patient population. From this perspective, a diminution of the role of system-wide executives might be considered a worthwhile result. On the other hand, I suppose it is possible that a state-level KentuckyOne system control might be replaced by even more direct CHI control from Colorado! The desire for local control is, however, at odds with current national and local policy, or financial pressures for hospital and health system consolidation and coordination. The health of KentuckyOne and its partnership with the University of Louisville is a matter of critical concern for Jefferson County and the Commonwealth. Things have not been going well so far.
Given reported financial pressures facing both CHI and KentuckyOne, and possibly including the recent precident-setting multi-million dollar jury verdict against KentuckyOne [related to claims of inappropriate relationships of with some of its physicians and the provision of unnecessary medical procedures] it is not possible to entirely ignore the possibility that some individual KentuckyOne hospitals or entities are being split off from the herd to be sold. CHI has disposed of poorly producing units before. Such a development would damage KentuckyOne’s stated goal of assembling a comprehensive statewide network.
We may or not learn more about the reasons for this anticipated major realignment of senior executive leadership at KentuckyOne. Future announcements or news of additional personnel changes will be telling. I wish to report this story accurately. If you have corrections or additional information related to an elimination of positions or layoffs that you can share publicly, I welcome hearing from you below. If you wish, you can contact me confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org using your personal email. This article will be updated as necessary.
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UofL
September 18, 2016