WKU agrees to privatize Health Services

Aaron Mudd

WKU’s Board of Regents met Thursday to discuss and approve a contract between WKU and Graves Gilbert Clinic. The contract, which will privatize WKU Health Services to Graves Gilbert Clinic, was approved after eight regents voted in its favor, with two regents abstaining and one voting against.

Staff Regent James Kennedy was the sole opposition to the contract and gave a prepared statement after a majority of the regents approved the contract.

“The board did what had to be done this morning,” Kennedy said. “However, I would caution that we should not view this action as an accomplishment or an achievement. Today WKU has lost something which cannot be replaced or duplicated, and no, I am not talking about the health services which will continue to be provided to the WKU community. Today we lost a part of our family.”

Kennedy congratulated staff members for their service and sympathized with staff adversely affected by the contract’s approval.

Faculty Regent Patricia Minter abstained from voting because of technical difficulties with her video teleconference call and Regent Phillip Bale abstained because he is employed by Graves Gilbert Clinic.

The regents approved the contract shortly after vice chairman Frederick Higdon proposed that a third-party assess the value of WKU Health Service’s medical equipment and supplies.

Under the amendment, Graves Gilbert Clinic and WKU would share the cost of the assessment and Graves Gilbert Clinic would purchase the equipment and supplies for the appraised value. The appraisal process would repeat if the contract was terminated.

Under the contract, WKU plans to redirect the $1.09 million used to run WKU Health Services to balance its 2014-2015 operating budget. The agreement also provides that the clinic will keep the first $200,000 in profits and the next $100,000 would go to WKU. Graves Gilbert would occupy 5,300 sq. ft., approximately 47 percent, of the Health Services building and lease it for $1 annually.

In the July 3 Board of Regents meeting, President Gary Ransdell said that without an agreement, WKU would face challenges such as cutting more than a million dollars from the budget and the decision to either close WKU Health Services entirely or operate it independently, which is unrealistic.

During the meeting, board members agreed to meet on July 10 after they had the chance to review legal documents more extensively and have their questions answered.

After the agreement passed, Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, thanked the board for reviewing documents over the holiday weekend.

“I am confident that we’ll be pleased with this partnership,” Mead said.

WKU plans to establish a health services advisory council to maintain the quality of medical care WKU Health Services provides. Mead said the council will be created with broad representation.

“We want to facilitate another mechanism for Graves Gilbert to understand how well they’re meeting our expectations,” Mead said.

Student Regent Keyana Boka agreed.

“I think it’s hard to foresee all the downsides,” Boka said. “But I think it’s good we’re having a health advisory council put into place with student representatives and employee representatives in order to help guide the direction of Graves Gilbert Clinic on campus and to help them address all our needs on campus.”

Graves Gilbert Clinic will begin providing medical services on Aug. 1, if officially authorized by both parties.