University of Kentucky to acquire eastern Kentucky hospital

Published 5:00 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

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The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees voted Friday unanimously in favor of acquiring St. Claire Healthcare in Morehead.  

UK hopes to finalize the deal on July 1, President Eli Capilouto said during a Friday board meeting on campus in Lexington. St. Claire employs 1,300 people, UK said, and has 20 medical specialties. The 139-bed facility is in Northeastern Kentucky, about 65 miles from Lexington and 136 miles from Louisville. 

This merge is “a not for profit legal transaction called member substitution,” a UK spokesperson told the Lantern. “UK will become the sole member of St. Claire. In return, UK has made a number of commitments.”

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Those commitments include, the spokesperson said, building health education programs, investing in facilities and upgrading information technology.

“For some seven decades, we have been a partner for progress and a collaborator in compassionate care with St. Claire Healthcare,” Capilouto told the board. “For decades, we’ve had formal partnerships and alliances with St. Claire in specialty and advanced care such as pathology, oncology, OBGYN, pediatric services, among others. Such services and the sense of partnership are hardwired into our soul, and their soul as well.”

St. Claire President and CEO Donald H. Lloyd II, who will stay on in that position, said in a statement that UK is a “natural partner that could carry forward the previous work and ongoing investment while growing the healthcare workforce.” 

“In an ever-changing health care landscape, both St. Claire and UK are deeply committed to accessible and high-quality patient care and strategic collaborations that will enhance services to benefit Kentuckians throughout northeastern Kentucky for many decades to come,” said Lloyd. “This is a win for the people in our community and the region and a transformative investment in clinical services, for medical education and state-of-the-art facilities, and investment in the local economy.” 

Dr. Eric Monday, UK’s co-executive vice president for health affairs, told the board the move will “improve access” for Kentuckians. 

“When we think about advanced care, we’re talking about patients being able to stay closer to home,” Monday said. “It’s going to provide opportunities for quality outcomes.” 

Several state lawmakers praised the move, including Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe, R-Lexington, who in December had to undergo emergency surgery after being kicked in the face by a horse. 

“As someone who recently needed emergency, lifesaving medical care following a serious equine accident, I can personally attest to the world-class care (UK) staff are able to provide to patients in their most urgent time of need,” Bledsoe said in a statement. “St. Claire HealthCare and UK HealthCare have enjoyed a working partnership that spans more than six decades, providing medical services that are second to none to countless patients across the region. I am truly excited to see the new possibilities that will come from extending this existing partnership.” 

Rep. Richard White, R-Morehead, said St. Claire “has served our region with distinction for more than six decades with a legacy that goes back even further.” 

“I’m proud to see this new chapter,” White said, “and excited to see how the resources available through UK HealthCare will increase access to innovative, world-class medical care.”