Council looks set to lease Memorial hospital

ANDREW WINEKE Updated: January 9, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: January 9, 2012

A proposal to lease Memorial Health System to the University of Colorado Hospital faced no objections at City Council Monday, and council will vote Tuesday on whether to move forward with negotiations.

In December, University of Colorado Hospital’s proposal was unanimously recommended by of the Memorial task force that sought and reviewed five bids for the city-owned hospital. Monday was the first time the full council heard the recommendation.

“We were all really pleasantly surprised when we came together as a task force, particularly that the decision turned out unanimous,” said Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, who headed the task force.

Phil Lane, a task force member and chairman of the independent Regional Leadership Forum, said University Hospital’s bid was strong financially, organizationally and offers the community the prospect of long term economic development in concert with a new medical school at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“It’s a very, very compelling offer,” Lane said.

Learn more about the University of Colorado Hospital and its lease offer for Memorial.

Kyle Hybl, chairman of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, said he fully supports the University Hospital bid both as a regent and as a resident of Colorado Springs. He said he and his wife have 21 family members around the Springs, so University’s stewardship of Memorial is personally important to him.

“Are they voters, Kyle?” Martin joked. Voters will have the ultimate say in approving or rejecting the lease agreement, likely later this year.

Council President Scott Hente said he couldn’t think of another issue in his nine years on council that has taken as much time and attention as Memorial’s future. No council member voiced any objection to moving forward with formal negotiations with University on Monday, although the actual vote will be held Tuesday.

“This is just another step in the process, but it’s an important step,” Hente said.

Bruce Schroffel, president and CEO of University of Colorado Hospital, said his staff would immediately begin performing due diligence on Memorial and working with local leaders and physicians on transition planning.

“I think the quicker this can be done, given the instability this has caused, the better for all concerned,” Schroffel said.

Memorial has struggled financially this year. Jim Moore, Memorial’s board chair, told council Monday that the hospital has lost $9.7 million through November of 2011, largely due to declines in its investment portfolio.

Rulon Stacey, president and CEO of Fort Collins-based Poudre Valley Health System, which is forming a joint venture with University Hospital, said that, despite the losses, Memorial retained strong fundamentals.

“I honestly believe that Memorial Health System has great potential,” he said. “Memorial Health System will be all right. They have understandably gone through some tough times.”  

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