COVID-19 amplifies importance of UofL Health to community
It was one year ago when UofL Health acquired the former KentuckyOne Health assets, taking on a struggling system with hospitals on the brink of closing, jeopardizing the community’s access to health care. Today, UofL Health supports more than 700 physicians and providers, 12,000 team members, and has revenues of more than $1.8 billion.
The acquisition preserved and expanded health care access, which has shown to be more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In any other year, turning around struggling facilities and successfully building a health system would be noteworthy, but for 2020, it is remarkable,” said Tom Miller, CEO of UofL Health. “We pivoted to handle COVID-19, but our team never lost sight of the future. We succeed by recruiting more bedside nurses, adding physicians, investing in technology and increasing access points in underserved areas.”
Drawing patients from each of Kentucky’s 120 counties, plus neighboring states, UofL Health doubled in size and is now the commonwealth’s largest academic health system. To meet the needs of an increasing number of patients, almost 300 new positions were created and 500 nurses recruited in the last 12 months, along with more than 40 new physicians.
In specific response to COVID-19, UofL Health opened Kentucky’s first drive-thru testing site, expanding to four additional locations and screening nearly 50,000 people so far. A telemedicine platform was launched with 600 providers to ensure continuity of care during social distancing guidelines. Bedside teams implemented additional safety protocols, COVID-19 treatments, and were called on to step in as surrogate family members during increased visitor restrictions. In advance of the potential “twin-demic,” COVID-19 and seasonal flu, 10,000 free flu vaccines were made available across the community.
“We formed UofL Health to address the significant needs of our community and our commonwealth,” said University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi. “But its impact has been even more substantial than we could have predicted, particularly in helping address the COVID pandemic. Our entire team – from support staff, to nurses, to providers and physicians – deserves credit for this success in building an organization of which Kentucky can be proud.”
The formation of UofL Health preserved thousands of jobs once in jeopardy. From acquired facilities, more than 5,800 jobs were saved, as well as 60 residency positions with the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Now, medical education opportunities are poised for growth with additional rotations at UofL Health – Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and UofL Health – Peace Hospital for future physicians, advanced level providers and nurses.
Improvements at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital represent the biggest turnaround success. Previously targeted for closure, the hospital is now seeing dramatic growth in patient volume including a 54% increase in organ transplants. Six million dollars invested in surgical robotics is expected to bring similar increases in cardiovascular procedures.
A renewed focus on serving community needs has led to similar growth at Mary & Elizabeth Hospital. In September, a voluntary medical detox unit opened with 12 private rooms. The service is a partnership with Peace Hospital and has a dedicated team specifically trained to treat behavioral health issues and addiction. Patients in south Louisville also have now have access to improved early breast cancer detection with 3D Mammography, installed at Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in October.
System-wide capital investments during the first year totaled $60 million with a focus of strengthening UofL Health’s ability to meet community needs and prepare for future growth. Additional notable projects include:
- System wide IT upgrades with improved patient portal and electronic medical records
- 3D mammography installed – three locations
- Shelbyville Hospital, Medical Center South, Mary & Elizabeth Hospital
- daVinci Xi surgical robot – Jewish Hospital
- Monarch Platform – Jewish Hospital
- Catheterization lab renovations – Jewish Hospital, Mary & Elizabeth Hospital
- Operating room expansion – UofL Hospital
UofL Health was formed on November 1, 2019, through the leadership of the University of Louisville and financial support from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and the KentuckyOne Health Foundation.