One of my favorite lines from old movies is: “The Devil can quote scripture to his own purpose.” So have various parties seen different things in the Dranove opinion of the recent partially released documents related to the acquisition that would have included the University of Louisville Hospital. The University itself focused on a line forecasting “dire effects” if the University was not permitted to proceed with its plans to hand over control of its clinical activities to another organization. My attention was focused on the lack of specific detail in the report. One of the items that must have captured the attention of County Attorney O’Connell who commissioned the report, was the suggestion that a body independent of the University oversee any future use of the Quality and Community Care Trust (QCCT) through which millions of state and local government funds are funneled to the University.
When the County Attorney asked for minutes of the University Board supposedly overseeing the funds, he was astonished to find that the legally required documents were not available, or worse, that there was no official documentation that the Board had met since 2007. Such a failure echoes the recent complaint of the Louisville Metro Council that the University had not produced information requested of it by the Council. Notwithstanding, the Council voted to continue the QCCT funding anyway. The University has now shared a little of its own increasingly tarnished reputation with an overly tolerant Council.
County Attorney O’Connell has called for a new Board, completely independent of the University, to oversee any future use of a public QCCT funding mechanism. He wanted to insure that “money did not come before mission” with respect to the University. I recently called for a State Audit of the QCCT, and questioned whether this almost 30-year-old partial solution to funding indigent care in Louisville is still appropriate. After all, Louisville’s governance has merged, the needs of the pubic have evolved, the health care system of Jefferson County has been drastically reorganized, and alas, the University of Louisville has also changed.
Would a lack of the required accountability from the QCCT Board simply represent a failure of University management? Is this part of a pattern of the University attempting to circumnavigate the law? I cannot help but be reminded of the recent Passport Scandal in which the University and its internal organizations harvested money intended for medical care of the needy and used it for other purposes. In my opinion, what we have been seeing unfold is a failure of leadership at the highest levels of the University of Louisville. The University of Louisville has lost its way. It needs our help now, not enabling responses from the public to which it is accountable.
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
A PDF version of this entry can be obtained here.