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University of Colorado Hospital leads early Memorial bidding

December 9, 2011
photo - Memorial Health System Photo by
Memorial Health System Photo by  

The game isn’t over yet, but University of Colorado Hospital is ahead on points in the first round of scoring who the city should lease Memorial Health System to, followed by an independent Memorial and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System.

The task force running the leasing process for city-owned Memorial on Friday released aggregate scores of the five proposals. The scores reflect rankings by the four City Council members on the task force, who evaluated the bids on more than 70 criteria and awarded each between 1 and 4 points.

University Hospital earned 1,404.5 points, a proposal to turn Memorial into an independent nonprofit received 1,301 points, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth 1,198 points, HCA-HealthOne 1,171 points and Centura Health 739.5 points.

The scoring was done before bidders presented their proposals to the task force on Dec. 2 and then the public Dec. 7.

Those scores are a guideline for conversation and aren’t binding, said Mike Anthony, the task force’s consultant. The task force is trying to come to a consensus on one or possibly two bids to recommend to the full City Council by Dec. 27. Voters would have to approve any change to Memorial’s ownership or governance.

“This will give you a methodical way to look at the proposals,” Anthony said.

After discussing the scores, the task force began to dig deeper into two of the proposals, from the Sisters of Charity and HCA-HealthOne.

Several task force members had sharp questions for HCA-HealthOne over an anonymous flier and telephone campaign the company paid for in January that asked the City Council to reevaluate plans it was working on to turn Memorial into an independent nonprofit.

“Why not put your name on it?” task force member and Memorial surgeon Dr. David Corry asked.

HCA-HealthOne CEO Jeff Dorsey said HCA’s then-partner in HealthOne, the nonprofit Colorado Health Foundation, specifically asked them not to put the HealthOne name on the fliers, but that the company took responsibility when asked. HCA bought out the foundation’s interest in HealthOne earlier this year for $1.45 billion.

Dorsey said HCA-HealthOne was trying to allow for more ideas and more transparency in the process.

“But you weren’t transparent,” Corry shot back.

After the meeting, HCA-HealthOne spokeswomen Linda Kanamine said that what HCA was attempting to accomplish in January is exactly what has happened.

“If we hadn’t been pushing for an open process and a bid process, we don’t believe we would be where we are today where we have five very good and quite different proposals,” Kanamine said.

Task force member Dr. Michael Welch, vice president of medical and dental at Peak Vista Community Health Centers, pressed HCA-HealthOne for whether it would accept Colorado Indigent Care Program patients. Peak Vista treats more than 19,000 CICP patients and the majority of them use Memorial for hospital services.

If Memorial didn’t take those patients, “it would require some adjustments on Peak Vista’s part and it would be a challenge to the community,” Welch said.

Dorsey said state regulations prevent HCA-HealthOne from accepting CICP except in its emergency rooms. Kanamine said later that although HCA couldn’t take CICP patients in Denver, it intends to continue Memorial’s participation in the program.

“Our commitment would be, of course we would take it (at Memorial),” she said.

Corry and task force member Randy Purvis pressed HCA-HealthOne whether the company would campaign against another bid if its were not chosen. HCA chief development officer Joe Sowell said there had been no decision made on the subject.

Councilman Tim Leigh then questioned Corry’s impartiality on the topic.

“No disrespect Dr. Corry, but you’re an employee of Memorial hospital,” Leigh said.

Corry defended himself, saying that whatever bid was picked, it was essential for Memorial to move forward quickly.

“I’m not here to play favorites,” Corry said “The worst-case scenario for me as a physician is for this process to be stymied, for a recommendation by this task force to be mired in litigation or for the recommendation to be rejected by the voters. That is my nightmare.”

Things were far more cordial when the group reviewed the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth’s bid, although there was a discussion over the limitations on reproductive health that would come with leasing to a Catholic hospital system and also disappointment over the cautious nature of the Sisters’ proposal, which offered fewer commitments than other bids.

“They’re a company of integrity,” task force member Steve Schaefer said of Sisters of Charity. “They’re very stable.”

Leigh said having two religiously affiliated hospitals — a potential Sisters of Charity-run Memorial and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services — in the city could cause problems.

“I think it’s a big issue,” Leigh said. “How could you have two religious health care systems in a community this size and not give the community choices?”

Sisters of Charity vice president of strategy and business development Sean Gregory acknowledged the restrictions, but said they applied only to a narrow category of procedures, primarily elective tubal ligations performed on women after a Cesarean section birth in the hospital.  

“That is a very small section of the procedures we do,” he said.

The task force will move on to evaluate bids from Memorial, University of Colorado Hospital and Centura Health on Wednesday.

Memorial bidding

The Memorial Health System task force made public the initial scoring for the five bids to lease the city-owned hospital. The bids were scored from 1-4 on more than 70 criteria. However, the scores are not binding.

University Hospital — 1,404.5
Memorial Health System — 1,301
Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth — 1,198
HCA-HealthOne — 1,171
Centura Health — 739.5


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