Update: Board of Regents passes proposed deal with Medical Center

Rendering of new structure

The Herald will update as more information becomes available.

On Friday, the Board of Regents gave the president permission to enact a deal with the Medical Center that includes the construction of a new sports complex, a new facility for the doctorate of physical therapy program and would move the program from the third floor of the medical center campus.

The deal would also make the Medical Center WKU’s exclusive provider for health services, ending the contract with Graves Gilbert Clinic set to expire in December of 2018.

President Gary Ransdell said the University of Kentucky has agreed to sublease space from WKU on the third floor of the Medical Center Health Sciences Complex for the College of Medicine.

The School of Medicine will open and enroll its first class of students in the summer of 2018 with classes to begin in the fall of 2018.

Additionally, the Medical Center has agreed to pay for all design and construction of a new sports and medical service complex. The estimated cost is $22 million. The Medical Center board approved the project on July 19 and again on August 9.

The Medical Center Sports Complex would be two stories and feature the Med Center Health Sports Medicine Practice, Diagnostic X-ray and Rehabilitation Services and Support Space for WKU’s Baseball program and WKU’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. There will also be an 83,000 sq. ft. indoor rehabilitation and training facility that would feature a full size practice football field, sprint lanes for track and training, netting for baseball, softball and golf, a high jump and long jump area, pole vault pits and rehab equipment.

The Medical Center will also provide Medical Center Orthopedics as the exclusive team of physicians for WKU’s Athletic programs, according to the proposal.

In turn, WKU will lease land for the project for 99 years at $1 per year. WKU will also lease space currently occupied by its Doctorate of Physical Therapy, using the revenue it generates from the UK sublease to pay all operating expenses for space it uses in the building.

The projected new expense for WKU is $166,000 for 83,000 sq. ft. at $2 per foot. WKU will charge the Preston Center staff with managing and scheduling the new complex. WKU will also structure medical benefits for its faculty and staff to include incentives to use the Med Center Health and Enspire Quality Partners.

As part of the proposed partnership, the Med Center will have the exclusive right to operate the Health Clinic on campus.

Ransdell said this plan would be a significant opportunity for WKU.

However, Regent Phillip Bale expressed his disagreement with the proposed deal. He said the deal could have a “chilling effect.”

Regent Gillard Johnson said he would like to accentuate the positives of this proposal such as the $22 million gift. Johnson said this new facility and partnership will help bring in new faculty, staff and students.

Regent John Ridley said due to the previous confidentiality of this proposal, the regents have not been able to gauge public response. Ridley said the regents have not been able to confer with the medical community on the impact of this proposal.

“The 99-year agreement sets a dangerous precedent,” Ridley said.

He also cites the 50 year contract with Hanban.

“This is a bad deal because of the timing and the situation in the community,” Ridley said. “We will not be able to control the risk.”

Ridley said this is a good deal for the Medical Center, but a bad deal for WKU.

Student Regent and SGA President Jay Todd Richey said first, he leaned towards supporting the proposal. However, after research, he cannot vote in favor of this project. Richey said this project could damage long-term relationships in the community.

New regent Julie Hinson said all the negative outcomes are just conjecture, this project is simply a business deal. Hinson said she is in favor of the project.

Faculty Regent Barbara Burch said the exclusivity of this deal could potentially harm future partnerships and put WKU at risk.

“This is not a gift,” Burch said.

Board chair Frederick Higdon said this opportunity is fleeting.

“When I sit down and look at the positives (of the deal), I’m overwhelmed by the opportunities,” Higdon said.

Ransdell said discussions are in place with potential donors, this deal will not affect gifts from other healthcare providers.

“This does not shut down other healthcare providers from supporting this university,” Ransdell said.

Two new regents were also sworn in during Friday’s Board of Regents meeting. The new regents are Julie Hinson of Prospect and Jason McKinney of Scottsville.