In his final days as CEO of Memorial Health System, Dr. Larry McEvoy said he's focused more on thanking the hospital's 4,000 employees for their hard work and less on the furor that details of his $1.15 million departure package has caused.

 He said stepping aside was in the best interest of the city-owned hospital as the city negotiates to lease Memorial to University of Colorado Health.

 "I think what I want to happen is for this sort of bubbling, 25-year stew that the organization has been in to find its way to completion through the UCH agreement," McEvoy said Monday night. "That was the rationale for my departure‚Ķ to remove any distraction from what should be a really good thing for the community."

Related: Memorial board upholds CEO's severance

Despite that, the 18 months' severance that McEvoy will receive, along with perks like keeping his company car, a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and $20,000 in job placement assistance, has drawn condemnations from the mayor and some City Council members, and also internal criticism. McEvoy said the package was a little lower than industry averages and in line with Memorial's compensation philosophy.

 "The board came up with a compensation philosophy that said, for every position, we weren't going to pay low and we weren't going to pay high - we were going to pay right at the median," he said. "I think that the agreement that you see is just a reflection of the board's philosophy."

 McEvoy said that City Council and city attorney Christopher Melcher were informed about the departure package.

 "This is not a blind conversation," he said. "Are we going to do the right thing for right reasons or, if we don't understand them, are we going to undo them? It was a contract well-supported by standard methods and rationale. Council was aware of it and so was the city attorney."

 The outcry about the package is understandable, McEvoy said, given the public distrust of government and how complicated and controversial health care has become. But he said, his pay was always at the board's discretion and he never complained about it.

 "I never argued, ever, with the board over what I should be paid," he said. "They paid lower than they could have, and I accept that as well."

 As for regrets, McEvoy said his biggest is that the acrimony over the hospital's future has overshadowed the benefits of the proposed University of Colorado Health lease.

 "I think it's going to turn out well, but I wish we could have gotten here as a community in a way that was a little more accepted," he said.

 Before his final day Friday, McEvoy said his main goal is to thank as many employees as possible.

 "I want to celebrate the work that these folks have done" under often difficult conditions, he said. "I think they deserve respect and gratitude for that."

McEvoy said he hasn't thought about what he will do next.

"I've spent so much time thinking about Memorial and what's best for it," he said. "(I'll have to) scratch my head, sit down with my family and ask, 'What's next?' I really don't know at this point."