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Archive for Saturday, March 31, 2007

KUMC affiliation negotiation deadline extended until May

March 31, 2007

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Friday was supposed to be the day that would seal the future relationships between Kansas University Medical Center, its longtime partner KU Hospital and a new partner hospital, St. Luke's in Kansas City, Mo.

But it now appears a new deadline, May 31, has been set, and KU leaders say there's still a lot of work to be done between now and then. It includes negotiating details of money, manpower and exactly what it means for KU to lend its brand to St. Luke's.

"We think there's a lot of hard work still left to come to bring these to a definitive agreement," KU Hospital spokesman Dennis McCulloch said Friday.

Amy Jordan Wooden, a spokeswoman for KUMC, said, "While deadlines are important in any negotiation, it is more important that we get this agreement right, not that we get it fast."

A spokeswoman from St. Luke's said the hospital was not commenting on the issue Friday.

KUMC, in Kansas City, Kan., is the medical arm of KU and includes the schools of medicine, nursing and allied health. KU Hospital, long a part of the medical center, split from the school in the late 1990s and became an independent hospital.

In recent months, Kansas City community leaders have been pushing for an affiliation between KU and St. Luke's, saying it will bolster the area's life-sciences research. But KU Hospital leaders have called for caution, given that St. Luke's is a competitor.

Two letters of intent signed in late January - one between KUMC and KU Hospital, and one between KUMC and St. Luke's - listed March 31 as the date that "definitive agreements" would be completed.

Instead, a set of "guiding principles" approved by KU Hospital's board this week includes May 31 as the new deadline for a "definitive agreement" - something the hospital's board members say they won't approve until they know exactly what KU's deal with St. Luke's looks like.

As far as the KU-St. Luke's deal goes, Jordan Wooden, the KUMC spokeswoman, said that having KU Hospital sign off on the guiding principles will allow KU to proceed in its negotiations with St. Luke's.

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