Archive for Sunday, May 20, 2007

No veto

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius shouldn’t reject a provision concerning an agreement between KU’s hospital and medical center.

May 20, 2007


Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is expected to sign the Kansas budget Monday for the fiscal year beginning July 1, as approved by state legislators; however, she is likely to veto a provision that calls for Kansas University Hospital and Kansas University Medical Center officials to agree on a mutual plan of operation and responsibilities before they can sign any kind of an affiliation with Kansas City's St. Luke's Hospital or any other health operation.

This provision was inserted because of the continued civil war within the KU medical operation in Kansas City and the desire by KU Medical School officials to promote an academic program with St. Luke's Hospital. KU Hospital officials oppose the plan, and it is an ugly situation being driven by KU Medical Center Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Atkinson, Chancellor Robert Hemenway, several prominent Kansas City business leaders such as Irv Hockaday and Bill Hall, some at St. Luke's and Sebelius.

The plan to give away the KU brand was hatched in secrecy, and Atkinson, Hemenway and others had hoped to have it designed and approved by August 2006.

According to a timetable drafted by Atkinson, a teaching affiliation, research alignment and financial planning all would have been completed by "the week of August 15th."

There was no public discussion, no legislative review, no review by the Kansas Board of Regents. The plan by Atkinson, Hemenway, Hall, Hockaday, St. Luke's CEO Richard Hastings and some at the Stowers Institute was supposed to be a done deal in early January, before Kansas lawmakers gathered in Topeka for their legislative session. The Regents were in the dark as well as the public, although there is reason to believe Regent Dick Bond was tied into the project fairly early.

The consequences of this giveaway are serious, but every effort was made to jam this down the throats of anyone who questioned or disagreed with the scheme.

It wasn't until two Kansas lawmakers, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld and Rep. Jim Morrison took interest in the matter that ugly, dangerous facets of the plan started to surface.

The governor has tried to place hand-picked favorites on the hospital board, which is in violation of state statute.

The necessity of a plan to provide up to 100 KU-trained medical residents at St. Luke's in order for KU to receive National Cancer Institute designation has been justified by Atkinson, Hall, Hockaday and Hemenway by various shifting of arguments, all of which have proven to be false.

Because of serious suspicions, the state has ordered post audits of the KU Medical Center to see whether medical center officials have overextended their commitments and do not have the cash to meet these commitments.

Various deadlines have been set by St. Luke's officials as to when an agreement must be exchanged, and all of their deadlines have come and gone without any firm, written agreement.

KU Hospital officials refuse to roll over and play dead to a plan that they think is harmful to the hospital as well as the medical school.

There are many other ugly situations, but back to the governor's expected veto of the proviso.

Why would the governor, Atkinson, Hemenway or others be pushing this plan when there is so much disagreement and/or opposition within the overall medical facility in Kansas City, Kan.? Why would St. Luke's want to engage in a plan where two of the most important players - KU Hospital and KU Medical Center - are warring?

Why would anyone want to sign a deal when there are serious questions about the fiscal integrity of the medical center?

It doesn't make sense, and yet the governor is determined to do all she can to force an agreement between KU Medical Center, KU Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital.

The big question remains "Why?" Are there other considerations? Is big money involved? Is politics at the root of the problem, or is it egos, turf wars or what?

The sad thing with the governor's veto is that the KU Medical Center will now go ahead with its plan to support St. Luke's. Deals will be made; programs will be shifted from KU to St. Luke's (remember, it is a one-way street where KU gives everything and gets nothing); KU Hospital will be weakened, and there will be other serious consequences.

The other sad, almost tragic and unnecessary consequence is that the turmoil, infighting, questions about financial weaknesses, the loss of highly respected Irene Cumming as president and CEO of KU Hospital, and other factors could cause many top-flight medical school graduates from around the country not to seek resident positions at KU. Already, there are areas in the medical school that are not fully staffed by residents. And, according to recent reports, KU may be forced to withdraw some residents from a Kansas City hospital because of a shortage of residents. Wichita's medical operation will be hurt as well.

The first indication of such a situation may surface next March when medical school graduates try to match their choice of a medical school with resident openings at the 100-plus medical schools around the country. KU may not look very attractive.

Some of those such as Atkinson, Hemenway and KU Provost Richard Lariviere probably will be gone by the time the deep damage becomes apparent, and they will be quick to wash their hands of this embarrassing situation.

Because they are so consumed to give away and weaken the KU name, they have not considered the possible consequences, or they are so arrogant to believe that they know best.

Hopefully, Neufeld and Morrison will not wilt under the constant pressure and lobbying, the illegal actions of the governor and her attempt to take control of the hospital board.

Also, it would be helpful if the public and other legislators took more interest in what some are trying to do and how this will weaken KU Hospital and the KU Medical School.

The governor should not veto the provision calling for KU Hospital and KU Medical School to have a solid agreement before the medical school can sign any affiliations with St. Luke's.

The whole situation is a travesty.


Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 11 months ago

Sebelius has forged an alliance with the worst elements of the Republican Party and now this disgrace and betrayal of the people of Kansas will fall on the Democratic Party. Remember that the author of this measure is Tom Burroughs a moderate Democrat from Wyandotte County. It is his constituents, the poor and indigent of Wyandotte County who will be denied services as a result of Sebelius calloused betrayal.

This has now become the signature for Republicrat Sebelius. We had a hero in Greensburg in the person of Dennis McKinney and instead this calloused bimbo went out and embarrassed the entire state with her Ray Nagin impersonation.

Better she should have become a Republican and joined those other two weasels than have them disgrace the Democratic Party with their blatant displays of prostitution. What's our motto going to be - "Republicrats. the best politicians money can buy"?

Send this ditz back to the red light district and find us a real leader.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Sebelius is a liberal Democrat who is making a really bad decision, it happens. "It wasn't until two Kansas lawmakers, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld (R) and Rep. Jim Morrison (R) took interest in the matter that ugly, dangerous facets of the plan started to surface."

Believe me there are a ton of Republican's, not only House Speaker Melvin Neufeld and Rep. Jim Morrison, that want nothing to do with her. Until she switches parties the Democrats are just going to have to live with her.

robertlewis 10 years, 11 months ago

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the actions of KU Chancellor Hemenway and Vice Chancellor Atkinson in conducting secret negotiations with St. Luke's while serving on the board of the Hospital are as clear a case of "breach of fiduciary obligation" as I have ever witnessed. As fiduciaries, Hemenway and Atkinson are required to place the interests of the Hospital above their own and any other entity's, and to disclose the negotiations to other members of the hospital board. Their failure to do so is a tort, and subjects them to civil liability for their misdeed. If I ran the hospital I would already have sued Hemenway and Atkinson for millions.

Since they hold their board seats ex officio, that is, by reason of their positions as KU chancellor and vice-chancellor, the appropriate method to remove them from the hospital board would be to terminate their employment with KU forthwith for breach of their duty.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 11 months ago

An excellent idea. How many more fine people will be lost owing to the ethical misconduct of these two Missouri stooges. The bigger question is what to do with the ultimate traitor - Governor Roundheels.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Unlike officers in public corporations, I am not sure KU Chancellor Hemenway and Vice Chancellor Atkinson have any legal "fiduciary obligation" they can be charged with breach on. I'm not saying saying that there shouldn't be one or they shouldn't be charged if there is one. While it is a given that in civil law that you can sue anyone for anything, I just don't know of any criminal statute or civil principle that imposes a fiduciary duty they could be held liable on.

Now of course there are fraud statutes that might be twisted by a clever barrister but I think that requires specific intent and not mere negligence or stupidity. KU just graduated another gaggle of attorneys maybe one of them can make their reputation and career on this one `cause I don't any of the silk tie types would risk the political fallout if they sued a KU Chancellor and lost.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Forgot to mention that since this hasn't happened yet, I don't think there is any "attempted breach of fiduciary duty" while there is an "attempted fraud" statute. Further, public Universities are pretty much immune to civil lawsuits but no one is immune to criminal violations. But who would bring such a charge? Branson, Morrison, and Kline all could I guess. Possibly any DA in any Kansas county could. Dunno. I think it would make a GREAT law exam question though.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 11 months ago

Morrison is not about to file charges against anyone doing the Governor's bidding, and I suspect that's the essence here (and their defense). This has clearly been in the works for years now and well laid out. The real question is when Governor Roundheels lets Mizzou have access to Self's recruits. It's pretty much just an extension of this deal. What a bimbo.

ed 10 years, 11 months ago

RobertLewis: "If I ran the hospital I would already have sued Hemenway and Atkinson for millions."

Hmmm... Good idea. So KU Hospital hires some expensive lawyers, paid for by taxpayers, to sue KU Med Center, which has to hire a bunch of lawyers to protect themselves, again paid for by taxpayers. And you say that you would sue them for millions? Guess who would have to cough up the "millions" if they lost? Kansas tax-payers.

This sounds like very productive use of taxpayers money.

Also, what nobody seems to understand is that KUMC wants to do what is best for KUMC, and KU Hospital wants to do what is best for KU Hospital.

Someone needs to come up with a logical solution which is in the best interest of both organizations. Every solution I have heard has been very one sided. The person that comes up with a win-win situation will be a hero. So put your heads together and come up with an idea that is a win-win for everyone.

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