CU a potential bidder for local Memorial Hospital

Dec. 12, 2011

April Wefler
awefler@uccs.edu

Next spring, you will have the power to decide who will control Memo­rial Hospital.

Brian Newsome, a spokesperson for Memo­rial, said that an issue of what to do with Memori­al has been on and off for years, if not for decades. He noted that city owner­ship is a dying business model.

“It’s pretty well-es­tablished that Memorial can’t stay the same even though we’ve had a good track record for a long time,” said Newsome. However, the plan is to preserve the things that people like about Me­morial. Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak and Beth-El College of Nurs­ing both have been par­ticipating in this process and providing input.

A citizens’ commission met to figure out what to do with Memorial. One year, multiple document analyses and 50 meetings later, it was decided that Memorial should become an independent, locally-controlled non-profit.

In August, the City Council threw the idea out to organizations. Five organizations responded with their own bids for the hospital: Centura, University of Colorado, the current administra­tion of Memorial Hos­pital, HealthONE and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. The five presented their proposals at a community meeting on Dec. 7.

The first organiza­tion to share its proposal was Centura. Centura in­sisted that their proposal doesn’t call for a take­over of Memorial, rather, a community health col­laborative to bring value to healthier interactions.

“The beauty of it is we can make it whatever we want to make it. This is ours. This is Colora­do Springs,” said Greg Campbell, CEO of Cen­tura.

The second proposal was University of Colo­rado. The University plans to use Memorial to expand Beth-El College throughout the region. Memorial will become part of a new, unique Colorado health care sys­tem.

During this presen­tation, Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said that there will be an ab­solute, specified com­mitment. If University of Colorado Health acquires Memorial, they will also support quality patient care.

Under this bid, Me­morial would be used to hold clinical trials that will help bring better treatments more quickly to more patients. Beth-El noted that the change will be transformational for the community.

Memorial Hospital it­self has also put in a bid. The organization noted that health care is the big­gest industry in the coun­try and is the industry with the second-highest job growth.

Newsome commented that Memorial’s proposal is the only one that is tru­ly local.

“We think local con­trol is key to ensure that the community’s needs remain first and that they don’t come into conflict with corporative direc­tive from another com­munity,” said Newsome.

He noted that any mon­ey that is made treating a patient gets reinvested into the community.

HealthONE and Sis­ters of Charity of Leav­enworth (SCLHS) were the final two presenta­tions. HealthONE said that it has the strongest track record in improving quality patient care.

They plan to partner with our university for a medical school branch in Colorado Springs. HealthONE will also pro­vide a residency program at Memorial and make it the top provider in the Pikes Peak region.

HealthONE has cre­ated 1,000 jobs in Colo­rado in the last four years because of increased pa­tient demand.

SCLHS plan to form a board with local mem­bers that will hold full responsibility for quality, safety, and medical staff issues. SCLHS’ core mis­sion is to deliver quality health care.

They will have a pub­lic health commitment of $1 million upfront and then $500,000 yearly.

Campbell pointed out that the decision of what to do with Memorial will be the biggest decision that the community has made in over a decade.

A city hall task force will be selecting one of these potential bidders to place on the spring ballot for Colorado Springs vot­ers. Public input on this decision is encouraged; questions may be sub­mitted to memorialtown­hall@springsgov.com or by calling 385-5961.