Owensboro Health plans to forge ahead



Owensboro Health President and CEO Philip Patterson says the announcement by Deaconess Health System and Methodist Hospital last week to jointly build a major medical facility in Henderson has not changed Owensboro Health’s plans to expand there.

Instead, Patterson said in an email, “it reiterates the need to provide greater access to quality health services in Henderson County.”

In May, officials at Owensboro Health confirmed plans to open five Healthplex outpatient facilities in Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board approved the issuance of bonds on May 28.

The bond issue, not to exceed $125 million, will be used to finance or refinance the “acquisition, construction and equipping of five Healthplex outpatient facilities,” according to KEDFA.

Last week, The Gleaner reported Deaconess Health System and Methodist Hospital intend to jointly build a major medical facility on nine acres between Barret Boulevard and the U.S. 41 bypass that Deaconess bought last fall, next door to a similar $17.7 million facility planned by Owensboro Health.

The day after that news broke, Henderson Fiscal Court voted 4-1, with one abstention, to support the issuance of as much as $20 million in bonds so Owensboro Health can build the outpatient facility. That $20 million of bonds is part of the $125 million that received preliminary approval earlier from KEDFA.

Approval of the resolution by Henderson Fiscal Court was the last of five county fiscal court resolutions required for bonding the five healthplexes at the lowest cost of capital, Patterson said.

“We need to expand health services infrastructure not just in Henderson County, but across the entire state,” he said. “By making access points more convenient to patients, we give patients another local option to receive the care they need and an alternative to leaving the state for health services.”

In addition to convenience, Patterson said, this also helps keep health care costs lower since many insurance plans pay higher rates for care obtained outside of the state.

According to Patterson, Owensboro Health currently provides primary care, physical therapy services and access to orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, and general surgery specialists at its One Health facility on Zion Road in Henderson County, as well as treatment for minor illness and injury through a clinic at Walmart.

“Due to increasing demand, as was to be expected based on health access needs in the county, we have outgrown our current facilities and find the need the expand and consolidate current operations,” he said.

“When a higher level of care is needed, too often in Henderson County, patients cross into Indiana to seek that care. The announced partnership between Deaconess and Methodist will strongly reinforce this historical pattern and continue to limit health care delivered locally. Our project provides an alternative for higher levels of care in Kentucky, care that ranks in the top 2 percent for clinical outcomes in the nation.”

Methodist Hospital sent a letter to Henderson Fiscal Court early last week characterizing the Owensboro Health proposal as a plan to siphon off revenue that Methodist needs “to offset the cost of caring for the indigent, offering prevention and wellness programs, sponsoring community events, and all the other things that make the hospital so valuable to this community.”

To that end, Patterson countered with Owensboro Health’s “track record of partnership with local community hospitals to improve health, strengthen local families and keep patients in their communities.

“Our recent partnership with Muhlenberg Community Hospital and our long-standing presence in Madisonville and support of the local hospital in that community are an example of this.”

Patterson said it’s been OH’s experience that when health care services increase locally, local hospitals and businesses benefit too.

“It is a historic time for the citizens of Henderson County in terms of access to new health care services, job creation and economic development,” he said “We believe that a strong and vibrant community hospital in Henderson is good for the citizens of Henderson and it is good for Kentucky.

“We are appreciative of the great work and commitment of Methodist Hospital’s employees and leaders. We look forward to continuing our efforts in Henderson County to deliver quality health care and to improve the health of this community and our region.”