- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent Health Services will form a joint venture to run St. Francis Hospital in Topeka, and the new partners will provide $50 million in capital to the financially struggling hospital.

The deal announced Thursday will keep St. Francis Health open and preserve most of the 1,600 jobs at the 378-bed hospital, according to the two health systems, which will acquire the hospital from SCL Health.

SCL has been trying to sell the hospital for a year and had vowed to close it this summer if new management wasn’t found.

Jackie Hyland, the chief medical officer at St. Francis, said the new deal was “the absolute best thing that could have happened in this situation” and a major relief for the workers, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/2pDV347 ).

“We are grateful our proposal was seen as the most positive path forward for St. Francis,” said Bob Page, the president and CEO of KU Health. “By marrying our resources as an academic medical center and Ardent’s operational expertise, we secure the long-term sustainability of St. Francis Health.”

Hospital officials said St. Francis will be operated as a for-profit hospital once the deal is finalized and receives regulatory approval.

The threat of closing St. Francis renewed debate about Medicaid expansion in Kansas, with advocates saying expansion would have reduced uncompensated care at St. Francis, while acknowledging it would not have solved the hospital’s budget problems.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a firm opponent of Medicaid expansion, helped recruit buyers to keep St Francis open, which SCL Health President and CEO Mike Slubowski said was key to reaching a deal that will promote long-term success for the hospital.

The two entities will create a joint venture board of directors with equal representation for both organizations. That board will then establish a local board of trustees for the hospital in Topeka.

Ardent, based in Nashville, Tennessee, has 20 hospitals in six states, with 5,000 doctors and 18,000 employees. It has six other joint venture partnerships with nonprofit health systems like the University of Kansas.

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This story has been corrected to show that the company is Ardent Health Services, not Ardent Health Systems.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com


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