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Regents to weigh in on hospital debate

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After facing pressure from a top lawmaker, the Kansas Board of Regents today announced it would seek more answers about Kansas University's plans to strike a deal that would send some KU medical faculty and students to a Kansas City, Mo. hospital.Kansas Board of Regents chairman Nelson Galle said in a statement that the Regents have asked KU leaders to respond by March 2 to concerns raised by Kansas House of Representatives Speaker Melvin Neufeld regarding the proposed deal between Kansas University Medical Center (KUMC) and St. Luke's Hospital."(I)f satisfactory responses are not produced in a timely manner, or if those responses raise additional concerns about this effort, the Board will at that time consider whether it should act to interrupt the process that is currently underway," Galle's statement said.The plan is controversial because some fear it could weaken KU's longtime partner hospital, KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., and threaten the supply of qualified Kansas doctors. On Friday, House Speaker Neufeld called for the Regents to postpone the March 31 deadline KU and St. Luke's have set to get their deal finished.Neufeld has said that if the regents fail to oversee the negotiations, he will seek passage of his bill that would require legislative approval of any partnerships between KUMC and other groups.Here is the full text of Galle's statement:"First and foremost, it is important to note that the University of Kansas (KU) has kept the Board apprised as it has engaged in these discussions. The comprehensive briefing we received last month from KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Atkinson regarding the status of the process was particularly helpful and informative. We appreciate the communication we have received throughout the development of this initiative, and we certainly expect that to continue.At the same time, we recognize that the questions House Speaker Melvin Neufeld raised recently are clearly important ones, and the Board agrees that questions like those must be answered. We have been impressed with what we have heard from KU leaders about this affiliations effort. But, as we move forward, we will ensure that KU provides us with information sufficient for us to satisfy ourselves that these proposed affiliations are truly in the best interests of the state's higher education system.In that regard, I have, as the Board's Chairman, expressly directed the Board's President and CEO, Reginald L. Robinson, to work with KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor Atkinson, and other key KU leaders to produce responses both to the questions the Speaker has raised, and to any other questions individual Regents may have about this initiative. Those responses will be provided to me and Board Vice Chair Christine Downey-Schmidt by March 2. Upon the receipt and review of that report from President Robinson, Vice Chair Downey-Schmidt and I will subsequently present to the full Board our recommendations regarding whether the questions presented have been satisfactorily answered. The Board recognizes that much effort has been exerted in this process thus far, and we note that valuable progress has certainly been achieved. We believe this important work should continue as the Board gathers responses to the questions that have been raised. However, if satisfactory responses are not produced in a timely manner, or if those responses raise additional concerns about this effort, the Board will at that time consider whether it should act to interrupt the process that is currently underway. In conclusion, I appreciate the Speaker's recognition that the issues presented by this initiative fall squarely within the range of matters best left for the Board of Regents to address. We will work with the University to resolve them together. We approach these issues seriously because we recognize that the life sciences hold the key to better health and quality of life for all citizens, and we believe that the development of a nationally recognized medical center is critical to the state's future. I look forward to continued work with state policymakers, including the Speaker, on this, and other, important higher education initiatives."-contributed by Eric Weslander

Comments

not_dolph 7 years, 9 months ago

Why has it taken the Board of Regents this long to engage? Talk about poor oversight. This issue has been in the newspapers for several months now...some prior articles quoting Regent Bond as "not knowing what was going on with the affiliation." Come on...what's the deal here? Clearly this is creating a black eye for the university.

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