Frequently Asked Questions
About the Partnership
- What is a joint operating agreement?
A joint operating agreement is an agreement between two or more parties to operate a business together. The two parties retain their individual identities while collaborating on a defined area of business. In the health care industry, hospitals may form a joint operating agreement to provide a stronger structure for coordinating services, working together and achieving more than they might alone. National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital believe the collaboration strengthens both organizations and enables us to better serve our patients and the community.
- Did National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital merge?
No. Only the clinical operations of both National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital are now jointly managed and governed in the new relationship. However, the parent organizations retain other components of their respective businesses separately, including separate ownership of assets. Employees remain employed by their current health system. Research, fundraising, and other elements are outside the agreement and continue individually for each organization.
- Why did National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital choose to come together? What are the benefits?
Both organizations are active in partnering with others when it is beneficial for patients, caregivers and the community. In this case, we saw two leading health care organizations in Colorado with complementary cultures, missions and dedication to excellence.
The strong outpatient approach of National Jewish Health complements the focused inpatient expertise of Saint Joseph Hospital, increasing our ability to together manage patients along the full continuum of care. Saint Joseph Hospital and SCL Health offer access to high-value system services, while National Jewish Health brings a deep expertise in research and specialty care. Our institutions all can share best practices.
Working together, we are expanding resources available to our patients and caregivers. Patients benefit from highly coordinated, quality care and the highest value in health care in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.
- Why were Saint Joseph Hospital and SCL Health interested in this relationship?
Leadership at Saint Joseph Hospital and SCL Health value the deep expertise and national and international reputation in respiratory care that National Jewish Health has, as well as its expertise in intensive care. Also, there is value in leveraging the significant commitment of National Jewish Health to research.
SCL Health sees the collaboration between National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital as a way to improve patient access to clinically excellent care. The clinical partnership leverages the robust physician group and outpatient care model of National Jewish Health and the state-of-the-art Saint Joseph Hospital facility and staff for more complex, inpatient care. Both organizations also have outstanding and complementary teaching programs and a strong commitment to education.
- Why was National Jewish Health interested in this relationship?
National Jewish Health leadership values the expertise and inpatient care for which Saint Joseph Hospital is known. We see benefits for our patients in having access to a new, state-of-the-art hospital and value the opportunity to leverage that inpatient resource to deliver the full continuum of care to all our patients.
We feel this collaborative relationship with Saint Joseph Hospital will enhance the quality of care and benefit all involved. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for two leading health care systems to create a stronger and more coordinated model of care, which benefits patients, caregivers and the community.
- What is the name of the jointly operated entity?
We are committed to keeping both the National Jewish Health name and the Saint Joseph Hospital name because both have strong reputations. The signage places our names — National Jewish Health | Saint Joseph Hospital — together, side-by-side, to indicate the collaboration and strength inherent in this agreement. Each entity also retains its historic name, which we are able to use when referring to each campus.
- When did National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital begin operations together?
The agreement officially began in August 2014.
- What is the leadership and governance structure for the new entity? Who is in charge?
A board of directors was appointed to oversee the joint clinical operations of National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital, which is being formed as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. Michael Salem, MD, president and CEO of National Jewish Health, serves as Chair of the Board for the new entity, while continuing to lead National Jewish Health. Jamie Smith, president of Saint Joseph Hospital, serves as CEO while also continuing to perform his duties at SCL Health and Saint Joseph. The current boards of directors at National Jewish Health and SCL Health continue in their service to the individual organizations. They serve in a guiding role for the new entity.
- What areas are outside the joint operating agreement?
Each organization maintains some parts of its business operations separately. The joint operating agreement brings the clinical care areas together to be jointly managed for inpatient and outpatient care. Nonclinical areas of National Jewish Health continue to be operated outside of the joint agreement and continue to be important parts of its business. For National Jewish Health, areas outside the agreement include Research, Academic Affairs, Health Initiatives, the Morgridge Academy, Professional Education and Development (fundraising). Likewise, Saint Joseph Hospital continues to have parts of its business that operate outside this agreement, such as the St. Christopher House, community clinics and the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. SCL Health solely operates its other hospitals in Denver and in other states.
- Are the other SCL Hospitals in the partnership?
No. The agreement involves only National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital. However, as we grow to do more things together, there is a natural opportunity to work together more broadly.
- How does this partnership impact the cost of health care?
This partnership leverages the best of both organizations and is creating a more effective and efficient way to provide clinically excellent patient care.
- What are the financial arrangements?
The organizations are equal partners in operating the clinical business of the joint entity, including defining medical protocols and managing care. Financial terms are not being disclosed.
Existing Services and Campuses
- Are operations at National Jewish Health or Saint Joseph Hospital changing?
For the most part, there have been few operational changes. National Jewish Health continues to serve adult and pediatric patients primarily as outpatients on its main campus and its 24 other locations in Colorado. The Pediatric and Adult day programs continue on the National Jewish Health main campus.
National Jewish Health operations outside of Colorado, including its telemedicine ICU coverage for 21 Banner Health hospitals and its Respiratory Institute in New York, continue operations outside this agreement.
Saint Joseph Hospital continues to focus on comprehensive inpatient care and maintains its close relationship with Kaiser Permanente. Saint Joseph Hospital does provide some outpatient care on its campus, which also continues, as does access to SCL Health’s continuum services such as home health.
As the relationship continues to develop, we are identifying process improvements and collaborations that naturally help patients along the entire spectrum of care and in building a larger network of care to help Coloradans.
- What is happening with the property that National Jewish Health owns (the site of the old Gove school)?
National Jewish Health plans to build on the Gove property and is actively fund raising to support that effort. While the design of the space is not complete, it likely will include clinical space for state-of-the-art care and treatment, with a focus on outpatient health.
- What about the research and teaching that is a part of National Jewish Health? Has that continued?
The relationship between National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital focuses on clinical care but also offers the opportunity for expanding research into the inpatient clinical space. For example, recently the Saint Joseph Hospital Institutional Review Board accepted the National Jewish Health protocols for Cystic Fibrosis research, paving the way for CF inpatients to participate in clinical trials. We anticipate we will expand other inpatient research protocols moving forward. The relationship has supported even stronger focus on and investment in research.
- What about areas like obstetrics that Saint Joseph Hospital is known for but are not a part of care provided at National Jewish Health?
Saint Joseph Hospital continues to provide all of the comprehensive medical services to patients that it has historically provided.
- What about the National Jewish Health pediatrics department? Is it part of the agreement?
Yes. Pediatrics is an important area for National Jewish Health in both clinical care and research. We are committed to identifying opportunities to expand how we deliver pediatric care through this agreement and other potential relationships.
Impact on Employees, Physicians and Hospital Partners
- Have there been layoffs as a result of this partnership?
While some services are changing, this relationship is not about diminishing services but about growing and expanding. We continue to look for opportunities to leverage the deep expertise and shared values of our organizations. Each entity in this partnership brings complementary strengths to the table that inherently expand the services offered by our caregivers to our patients.
- Does National Jewish Health continue to work with other hospitals outside the SCL Health group?
Yes. National Jewish Health has several long-standing relationships, which we value highly. It is our intent to continue those relationships. We feel we become a stronger partner through this new joint venture. Similarly, Saint Joseph Hospital and SCL Health continue to maintain and expand their relationships with others.
- How does this partnership impact Saint Joseph Hospital’s relationship with Kaiser Permanente or the Colorado Permanente Medical Group?
We see benefits for Kaiser Permanente members and physicians as a result of the collaboration between National Jewish Health and Saint Joseph Hospital, including access to high-quality, high-value clinical specialists and a more robust outpatient network to complement the inpatient expertise offered at Saint Joseph Hospital.
- Does this partnership impact the way community physicians practice at Saint Joseph Hospital?
Both medical staffs have access to services and expertise not contained completely in either organization. Referring physicians continue to have access to Saint Joseph Hospital, as well as the physicians and expertise of National Jewish Health. Daily operations remain consistent with easy access for all physicians.
- What about the National Jewish Health relationship with University of Colorado Hospital? Do they still work together?
National Jewish Health has had a long-standing academic and research relationship with the University of Colorado Hospital and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. We highly value this relationship and it is our intent to continue to collaborate.
- Does National Jewish Health still care for patients from around the country?
Yes. In fact, we feel that this agreement with Saint Joseph Hospital benefits all our patients—those coming to us locally and those traveling from elsewhere in the country and the world. We feel this joint agreement makes us stronger together.
- Does this deal preclude partnerships with any other organizations?
Both of our organizations have important agreements with other health care providers. We continue to nurture relationships with our current partners and are open to other opportunities. Right now we are focused on achieving the benefits from our coming together.
- A partnership between a Catholic care provider and a Jewish institution seems unusual. How is that working?
First, National Jewish Health, though it has a Jewish heritage, has always been a non-sectarian organization. And, although Saint Joseph Hospital is part of a Catholic health system, it shares a similar mission and history with National Jewish Health.
Both organizations were founded in the late 1800s with a charitable mission to help the thousands of impoverished people who were coming to Denver with illnesses, especially consumption (tuberculosis). Both organizations continue today with a strong mission to serve people of all backgrounds and religions, to help those who cannot afford care and to be innovators in how care is provided. This similarity in heritage is one reason this partnership opportunity is so compelling.
- What about the ethical and religious differences observed within Catholic hospitals? Are there any issues for the joint entity?
Saint Joseph Hospital continues to honor the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) as a Catholic hospital. National Jewish Health is a specialty care hospital with clinical focus in areas not directly impacted by the directives.
- What is happening with the National Jewish Health national ranking? Is that still be a priority? What about other ranking systems?
Absolutely. Both of our organizations are highly ranked on a variety of measures, including the National Jewish Health ranking in pulmonology by U.S. News & World Report. We agree that it is important to focus on quality and outcomes so as to continue performing at a high level for a variety of rating systems.
Saint Joseph Hospital also has received national recognition for its quality of care and three times has been ranked nationally among the Top 100 Teaching Hospitals by Mercer Management Consulting, Inc., and HICA, Inc.
For the past three years, the hospital has been named as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals™ by Healthgrades®, which measures overall clinical performance. In addition, Saint Joseph Hospital has been named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for pulmonary care, critical care, cardiac surgery, gastroenterology (GI) care, spine surgery and general surgery.
Saint Joseph Hospital also is ranked in the top 1 percent of hospitals in the country for complex heart surgery as measured by the Society for Thoracic Surgeons (STS). STS star rankings are also an important factor in other national ranking criteria, including that of U.S. News & World Report.
Achieving excellence and measuring performance are important to both organizations as these indicators help to confirm the high quality of care being delivered.