CINCINNATI—Attorneys for the University of Cincinnati Wednesday afternoon filed a motion to become a party in the lawsuit between the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and Christ Hospital.
Should the motion be granted, it will allow representatives of the university to participate fully in all negotiations and discussions regarding the litigation.
“It must be remembered that all participating entities in the Health Alliance, including UC, have charitable missions,” said Nancy Zimpher, president of the University of Cincinnati. “University Hospital provides care for the community, especially highly specialized care such as trauma, cancer, stroke and Air Care. It also provides close to 70 percent of the indigent care in our community.
“UC’s intention is to help facilitate an equitable transition for all Health Alliance hospitals, while preserving quality health care for our community. Our interest is in protecting the public interest and that necessitates an official place at the table,” Zimpher added.
In its motion, the university asserted that it “is committed to ensuring that the final outcome of the Defendants’ departure is achieved with minimal disruption to patient care in the community and in a way that treats all of the Participating Entities fairly and without prejudice to their future success or ability to deliver care. The University submits that, for the negotiations to succeed, all of the Participating Entities must have a place at the table and in this Court.”
The Health Alliance includes University, Jewish, Fort Hamilton, Christ and St. Luke hospitals. Prior to the formation of the Health Alliance, the university operated and owned University Hospital. In 1995 the management of the hospital was transferred to the Health Alliance, although the university remains ultimately responsible for the hospital and has a vital interest in preserving its financial integrity.
Any resolution of the dispute that could damage University Hospital also could undermine the College of Medicine’s ability to provide patient care to the community, train the next generation of health care professionals and conduct biomedical research to develop tomorrow’s cures and treatments.
“We have a commitment to the city and the people of our community to ensure the delivery of high-quality health care, and we will continue to do everything possible to preserve the standard of health care that the community expects and deserves,” said Jane Henney, MD, senior vice president and provost for health affairs at the university.
The university has begun discussions with other participating entities following the April 16 ruling of Judge Fred Nelson in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas permitting Christ and St. Luke hospitals to leave the Health Alliance. In addition to negotiating an orderly transition, the hope of these efforts is to maintain the valuable services that the Health Alliance provides to all five hospitals.
The Health Alliance supports its member hospitals with such services as information technology, human resources, quality management and financial services. For example, intravenous pumps used to infuse medications for critically ill patients are supported by information technologists employed by the Health Alliance.
“The people who are responsible for these and other activities are vitally important to the success of all the hospitals. We must ensure that they are able to continue to do their jobs in supporting the hospitals,” Henney said.
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, whose office represents state universities, has appointed Nathaniel Jones, of Blank Rome LLP and former judge of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, as outside trial counsel to represent the university.