Jefferson County, Alabama

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Jefferson County Commission Approves Amended Agreement To Establish A University Healthcare Authority With UAB Health System

(Birmingham, AL) -- The Jefferson County Commission voted Tuesday, 3-2, in a reconvened meeting to create a University Healthcare Authority with UAB Health System to manage Cooper Green Mercy Health Services. The vote follows months of due diligence by both parties to work through details of the Master Agreement approved yesterday. The transition to the University Healthcare Authority will take place on April 1, 2020.

Changes made to the Master Agreement during the due diligence period include:

·        Jefferson County will remain the “paying agent”for Cooper Green employees, which allows the employees to remain in the current pension program.

·        Employees’ accrued sick and vacation time will transfer in full to the Authority.

“This agreement is a win for both the indigent patients currently coming to Cooper Green and for the employees,” said County Manager and CEO Tony Petelos. “During the first two years we will work with UAB to maximize the impact of the indigent care fund while collecting data to study and establish a long-term, sustainable financial arrangement that is best for Cooper Green patients, employees and the community.”

Commissioner Knight, Chairman of the Finance Committee, said following the vote, “One-hundred and thirty-one years ago the Hospital of United Charities was formed to give quality care for the indigent population in our community, today the mission remains the same at Cooper Green and I believe this agreement gives us the best opportunity to do that.”

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said following the vote, “This is a defining moment for the patients we see at Cooper Green. We believe patients will see a difference in the care they receive for the better. I appreciate the due diligence by the County staff on this matter and look forward, to moving forward, together.”

Commissioner Sheila Tyson, who voted against the resolution stated, “I take my position as chair of the Health Services Committee very serious. I am still disappointed that I was not selected to be on the initial board of the Healthcare Authority. I have worked very hard to get the best deal for the patients and the employees of Cooper Green.”

Commission President Pro-Tem Lashunda Scales, who voted against the resolution, stated, “Today’s vote by the Commission represented several months of non-communication, during what was promised by county management to be an extensive due diligence period, followed by a rush to make a rash decision that will have a longstanding impact on thousands of the county’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Scales. “Critical questions about this contract were raised but were never answered. The contract in question was never about the quality of the health care service to be provided to indigent residents, but rather was about the county’s long-term financial obligation for decades to come.”

Commissioner Steve Ammons added he felt this was the right move for patients and will set a model for the future. “This is not some thing we have entered into lightly, both sides have sat down with each other, we know how we can move forward and improve care – that’s the most important part,improving the health and quality of life for the patients that rely on Cooper Green.”

UAB Health System leadership agreed with Commissioner Ammons sentiment. “When Jefferson County leadership approached us about the possibility of a UAB-led Authority to manage Cooper Green, we saw a great opportunity to create a state-of-the-art patient care system that would enhance care and benefit Cooper Green patients and employees, as well as the County,” said UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany. “The Jefferson County Commission’s approval this week is a positive step in the right direction to accomplish that.”

Town Hall meetings for employees will be held during the month of November. The coming months will be spent working to ensure a smooth transition that is beneficial to all involved.

The Directors of the University Authority will be as follows:

  • Reagan Durant, MD, MPH, Chief of Cooper Green Medical Staff and UAB Division of Preventive Medicine Physician
  • Raheel Farough, UAB Health System Vice President of Managed Care and Venture Support
  • John Henry, Jefferson County Commission Chief Financial Officer
  • Joe Knight, Jefferson County Commissioner, Chairman of Finance Committee
  • Kimberly Payne, RN, MSHA, UA Health Services Foundation, Associate Vice President of Ambulatory Services
  • Tony Petelos, Jefferson County Manager and CEO
  • David Randall, UAB Health System Chief Strategy Officer