We congratulate: New hospital system – with some caveats

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We're glad the fate of Jewish Hospital Shelbyville is set, but we remain concerned about what the new company could mean for patients.

Shelby County’s community hospital now has new ownership, and we’re glad at least that piece of the drama about the facility’s future is complete.

We don’t know what impact OneKentucky Heath System ultimately will have in Shelby County – and we remain concerned about that – but at least the merger processes surrounding its future are signed and, for the time being, sealed.

Gov. Steve Beshear did his job to block the merger of the Jewish and Saint Joseph health-care systems with the University of Louisville Hospital, because a merger involving church- and state-operated entities is patently unconstitutional.

But what Beshear can’t do and what we hope is true is that OneKentucky will operate in Shelbyville as Jewish Hospital has for the past several decades: Providing the best medical care it can in a financially chaotic market without any additional constraints.

We don’t condemn the Catholic Health Initiatives that has owned Saint Joseph for providing the church-regimented care that it provides at its existing facilities, but we don’t think its prostletizing should be part of the medical decisions for patients who seek treatment and counseling at its newly controlled facilities, such as JHS.

That has been at the crux of the concern for many about this entire merger – that the Catholic canons would overrule patients’ rights by sure force of market segment – and that simply can’t be the case.

Shelby County has been blessed to have a growing hospital since the days when medical leaders such as Dr. Don Chatham advanced it from two houses on Henry Clay Street to the building that is the foundation for the Col. Harland Sanders Medical Center.

There have been several owners and many changes in coverage, but the bottom line is that the medicine practiced there was to the best extent of all who sought it.

We don’t want that to change under any circumstances.