Hospital, university leaders to revisit affiliation: Talks expected to go more smoothly than 2007 negotiations

Kansas University Hospital, KU Medical Center and KU Physicians are preparing to begin negotiations on a new affiliation agreement, a process that hospital and university leaders say should go much more smoothly than the last time.

The groups’ first affiliation discussions became bitter and contentious at times over issues such as how other hospitals in Kansas City would be able to use the “KU Cancer Center” brand.

KU Hospital provides clinical services and patient care and is affiliated with KU Medical Center, which provides research and education for physicians, nurses and allied health professionals. KU Physicians is the group of doctors that practice at KU Hospital and belong to the KUMC faculty.

After the groups’ last negotiations in late 2007, the parties had agreed on a number of issues. For example, they agreed that the amount of money paid by the hospital to KUMC and KU Physicians would increase from $31 million per year to $46 million per year.

The parties have some time before the current agreement expires on Sept. 30, 2012. The sides will likely begin meeting later this year, said Bob Page, CEO of KU Hospital.

Hospital leaders, fresh off a newly minted merger with the Kansas City Cancer Center, haven’t had much time yet to devote to thinking about what kinds of issues might arise in the new negotiations.

“It’s a good question,” Page said. “I don’t know yet.”

He said that given the existing good relationship between KUMC and the hospital, he didn’t expect discussions to be contentious this time around.

Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of KUMC, agreed.

“We’ve worked with this partnership, and as you can see, we’ve made huge progress,” she said. “We now have a track record of really working together, which didn’t exist before.”

By Andy Hyland

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