Archive for Saturday, June 30, 2007

St. Luke’s extends deadline for deal

June 30, 2007

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— St. Luke's Hospital system has extended a self-imposed deadline to wrap up negotiations over a proposed affiliation with the Kansas University Medical Center.

Talks about the proposed affiliation have gone on for more than a year now, and St. Luke's had set a deadline for today. But G. Richard Hastings, president and chief executive officer at Kansas City-based St. Luke's, said the hospital board voted in May to extend the deadline indefinitely if an agreement wasn't reached.

"We extended it because we are still dedicated to the project," Hastings said, "and we were not going to be able to complete it during that time, because of all the issues that had to be resolved."

Officials with the Kansas University Medical Center had expected discussions to go past today's deadline, spokeswoman Amy Jordan Wooden said.

"What is demonstrated here is that both St. Luke's and KU Medical Center are committed to getting a good agreement in place, and that takes time," she said.

Hastings said there has been progress, such as St. Luke's being close to agreeing on its research relationship with the medical center. The institutions have collaborated on research projects in such areas as neurology for some time now. The new agreement would formalize those ties.

Issues such as St. Luke's future role in graduate medical education remain on the table.

The medical center, which comprises the Kansas University schools of medicine, nursing and allied health, also is negotiating a new agreement with its main teaching hospital, the Kansas University Hospital. Talks have continued since the two institutions missed a May 31 agreement deadline.

Hospital officials have expressed concern that the medical center's plan to affiliate with St. Luke's will hurt the hospital financially. Others, including some Kansas legislators, have said the deal might take doctors away from Kansas, because the proposed affiliation would permit Kansas University Medical Center residents to work at St. Luke's institutions in Missouri.

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