Topeka A contentious dispute between the Kansas University Medical Center and its teaching hospital over the medical center's efforts to also join forces with a rival hospital may be resolved within days, a key official said Wednesday.
"Within the next few days, we should have a signed agreement," Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of KUMC, told the Kansas Board of Regents.
At the center of the dispute is a proposed education and research affiliation between KUMC and Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital.
KU Hospital has said the affiliation could hurt its operations because it competes directly with St. Luke's.
But medical center officials have said after intense negotiations, they think they can mitigate potential harm to KU Hospital and generally improve health care delivery for all Kansans.
"The hope is more cures, better health, better doctors," Atkinson said.
KU Medical Center affiliation
- Hospital,KUMC near deal (03-14-07)
- Doctorsdenounce KUMC affiliation plans (03-14-07)
- Textof Neufeld's letter to Board of Regents chairman (03-14-07)
- Sebeliussupports KUMC affiliation (03-13-07)
- Sebeliussupports KUMC affiliation(03-13-07)
- SpeakerNeufeld's letter to the Board of Regents (.doc)
- Feudbetween KUMC, hospital persists (03-11-07)
- KUMCthreatened with loss of funding (03-10-07)
- Proposedamendment to HB 2524, dealing with Kansas hospital affiliations(.pdf)
- Highlyregarded researcher leaving KU (03-09-07)
- Letter from KU Medofficials to committee members (.pdf)
- Lawmakerscritical of hospital affiliation (03-08-07)
- KUHospital wary of KUMC affiliation proposal (03-07-07)
- Hospitalchief says affiliation too risky (03-06-07)
Atkinson didn't provide any details of the agreement, saying lawyers still were reviewing the proposal.
Dennis McCulloch, KU Hospital spokesman, said "steady progress" had been made, but he declined to predict when an agreement would be finalized.
"The key thing is to get it right," McCulloch said. "It will be finished when it's finished."
Regents members praised Atkinson for moving forward with the plan, saying it fit with the state's goal to make the Kansas City area a life sciences center and pull in more research dollars. The regents unanimously endorsed the medical center's efforts.
"This is about growing and enhancing what everyone of those entities are doing," said Regent Donna Shank, of Liberal. "This is a win-win for everybody."
Regents members said that for KUMC to lure more private and federal funding and have a shot at getting national cancer center designation, it needs to affiliate with other hospitals. "To do that, you just have to grow," said Regent Frank Gaines, of Hamilton.
The regents' comments were in stark contrast to those made by some lawmakers who have been suspicious of the proposal.
The House today is scheduled to debate the state budget, which includes a measure that would cut all state funding to the medical center if the affiliation with St. Luke's was opposed by the KU Hospital board.
And some lawmakers, including House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, have called on the regents to get more involved in making sure that KU Hospital wasn't harmed in the proposed affiliation.
But regents members on Wednesday said they have kept abreast of the situation and saw no need to get further involved.