Archive for Friday, October 19, 2007

Regents approve KUMC affiliation

Leaders hope deal leads to National Cancer Institute designation

October 19, 2007


Hemenway highest paid university leader in Kansas

Today all six Regents University presidents received a raise from the Kansas Board of Regents. KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway remains the highest-paid. Enlarge video

— The long and winding road to an education and research affiliation between St. Luke's Hospital and Kansas University Medical Center on Thursday reached its most significant milestone yet.

With the unanimous approval of the Kansas Board of Regents, KUMC will receive $1 million per year for the next four years from St. Luke's Hospital, in "unrestricted mission support." This support is money that KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Atkinson can use to promote research, hire faculty or otherwise support the teaching and research of KUMC. The affiliation also calls for the creation of 100 new medical resident positions at St. Luke's and determines how the Kansas City, Mo., hospital can use the KU brand.

"We do a lot of important things on this board. If I look at the past or even the future, I can't imagine anything that will have a greater impact on the quality of life of Kansas families," regents chairwoman Christine Downey-Schmidt said. "I'm hopeful and very glad to be a part of advancing this issue. I hope the continued delays and the political maneuvering and unjustified protests will fade away and we get along with finding cures."

Chancellor praises agreement

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said this agreement would help the university do three key things:

¢ Achieve National Cancer Institute designation.

¢ Create more research opportunities that could result in the development of drugs to fight cancer.

¢ Provide more residencies, resulting in more doctors for Kansas.

St. Luke's will spend at least $15 million per year for the next four years on medical education and research. After the four-year period, both the unrestricted mission support and the education and research expenditures can be renegotiated.

The 100 new residencies in Kansas City would be in addition to the 450 already at KU Hospital, Children's Mercy, the VA Hospital and St. Luke's. The affiliation also states that no reduction will occur in the number of residencies offered at KUMC's Wichita campus. Ongoing discussions with KU Hospital could result in another 100 residents.

"I'd say we're happy with this agreement, but we recognize we still have a long way to go," Hemenway said.

The affiliation does not include any provisions for how St. Luke's would work with KUMC and KU Hospital in a proposed cancer center. It also does not address the affiliation being negotiated between KUMC and KU Hospital.

A long road

Hemenway, however, said agreement in both of those circumstances is also near.

"The important thing is we got to (two) drafts," Hemenway said. "There's a certain degree of commonality when you get to that stage."

The effort to reach the affiliation, however, has been a difficult one. KU Hospital leaders, as well as legislators, concerned that this agreement would result in damage to KU Hospital and see Kansas money flowing to Missouri in the form of St. Luke's medical residents.

But Thursday, KU Hospital CEO Bob Page at the very least signaled acceptance of the agreement as progress.

"Our focus continues to be on negotiating a new agreement with the University of Kansas Medical Center and Kansas University Physicians Inc. that will help the university, our physicians and the hospital move forward together," Page said in a statement provided to the Journal-World. "Significant progress is being made on these negotiations."

Page said the KU Hospital Authority board would review the final affiliation agreement and address any concerns to the university. The authority board next meets Nov. 13.

House speaker disappointed

Kansas House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, an Ingalls Republican who has criticized the affiliation process, remained unhappy with the agreement.

"I continue to be disappointed that Kansas School of Medicine Dean Barbara Atkinson and KUMC have chosen to move forward with their proposed affiliation with St. Luke's Hospital before an affiliation agreement has been finalized with the KU Hospital Authority," Neufeld said in a statement. "It is critically important the affiliation agreement with KUH be completed so our state's higher education system, medical research potential and medical education system are protected for the good of Kansans."

Neufeld also said he hoped the affiliation process would conclude quickly, so that the focus could move off politics and on to educating and caring for Kansans.

KU assured the regents that no Kansas tax money would be flowing to Missouri and, in fact, money from a Missouri hospital would be flowing to Kansas.

The regents seemed pleased and convinced that this affiliation was the best result Kansans could hope for, particularly if it helps KU achieve National Cancer Institute designation. Virtually every regent asked questions and ultimately praised the affiliation.

'More opportunities'

Regent Gary Sherrer wanted to hear how this would be beneficial for all Kansans.

"What it means for out-state (rural) Kansas is more doctors and more cures that we find," Atkinson said. "What out-state Kansas needs is primary care doctors, and this won't probably help this. But out-state Kansas also needs specialists. This will help train more specialists."

The affiliation also received an endorsement from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"We need more doctors, more nurses and more health care specialists throughout our state. With this agreement, more medical students will come to Kansas - which means more opportunities to send graduates back to Kansas communities," Sebelius said in a statement to the Journal-World. "This affiliation also helps the University of Kansas work for a National Cancer Institute designation, which for the more than 12,000 Kansans with cancer is an important and vital goal."

Atkinson also said that when the affiliation regarding the cancer center between KUMC, KU Hospital and St. Luke's is reached, there would be opportunities for clinical trials to take place around the state, coordinated by KUMC. That resonated particularly well with Sherrer.

"I've been sitting in waiting rooms near St. Luke's with people from Marysville and central and western Kansas. They not only are fighting a tough disease, but they're driving a long way," Sherrer said. "When you start talking about taking this out to people, I think some of the people who are concerned about the direction you all are going need to think about the human element of what you all are doing."

Atkinson, when questioned by the regents, said that the St. Luke's affiliation was completed first because the KU Hospital Authority wanted to wait to complete its affiliation until it could see what KUMC and St. Luke's would agree to.

Hemenway and Atkinson, who are on the KU Hospital Authority board, presented a draft version of this agreement to the board last month. Atkinson said a number of comments from board members were taken and some resulted in changes to the final affiliation agreement.

St. Luke's Hospital, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment Thursday on the final affiliation agreement, but the spokeswoman said no further action would be necessary on the part of St. Luke's for the agreement to go into effect.

Consequently, with the signatures of Hemenway and St. Luke's Hospital CEO Richard Hastings, the 10-year agreement between KUMC and St. Luke's would be in place.


Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

What a coup! What an ingenious end-run around Kansas conservatives. Very soon, Kansas University labs and researchers will be conducting embryonic stem cell research, funded by Missouri tax dollars.

ihatelv 10 years, 7 months ago

"Very soon, Kansas University labs and researchers will be conducting embryonic stem cell research, funded by Missouri tax dollars."

As a fellow conservative, it's about time!! And what's better, we won't be paying for it.. Looks like a win win to me!

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