The chiefs who conceived and carried out a merger of two hospital systems into University of Colorado Health's burgeoning empire will step down at the same time at the end of January.
UCHealth President Rulon Stacey and chief executive Bruce Schroffel will both leave the hospital system on Jan. 31, launching a national search to lead what has quickly become a dominant player in western health care.
The departures are not expected to affect the management or daily operations of Memorial Hospital Central, Memorial Hospital North or Memorial's outpatient and affiliated facilities, all of which were brought under the UCHealth umbrella in October under a lease approved last year by Colorado Springs voters.
"All of our senior leaders are very stable in their positions," said UCHealth spokeman Dan Weaver. "We don't anticipate any changes there."
UCHealth chief medical officer Dr. Bill Neff will become interim head of UCHealth on Oct. 1 to provide more continuity during the search process for a replacement chief. Between October and January, Schroffel and Stacey will be "special advisors" to the board of directors, UCHealth said.
The new hire will combine the CEO and president positions, UCHealth said in a statement by board chair Dick Monfort.
Schroffel, 62, is indicating he will retire. Stacey, 53, will pursue other opportunities in health care management but did not identify a specific position.
Weaver said one would expect Stacey and Schroffel to retire at the same time, given their history of working together.
"When you look at the system and its history," he said, "it is not so surprising that are transitioning out together, too."
Stacey and Schroffel brought big personalities and drive to their roles. Schroffel was the leader of University Hospital since before its move from east Denver to a new facility on Aurora's Anschutz Medical Campus. Not long after the new hospital was in place, Schroffel launched a major expansion effectively doubling parts of the facility, including a second tower for beds and a massive emergency department.
Stacey led the Poudre Valley Health System, based in Fort Collins. Poudre Valley also had Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland and a number of clinics. The two leaders spent a couple of years working on a merger of the nonprofit systems, and Stacey came to Aurora to become the system president.
They then worked on further growth, winning a fierce public bidding to become the manager of city-owned Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Memorial Central and Memorial North have 476 and 88 licensed hospital beds respectively, Weaver said. The Memorial system is overseen by CEO Mike Scialdone.
UCHealth also now encompasses health care services in Wyoming and Nebraska. The system's employment has reached about 15,000 people, making it one of the largest employers in Colorado.
UCHealth's moves appear to be profitable so far, though audited results of a fully integrated system are not yet available. For its fiscal year ending in 2012, University Hospital reported operating income of $147 million on revenue of $941 million in 2012.
Since the nonprofit system does not have shareholders, income is reinvested for expansion or improvements like an integrated electronic record system.
University, since becoming an independent nonprofit, has few ties left to the state or the CU governance system. Two of the hospital system's 11 board members are appointed by CU, and doctors hired by the University of Colorado Hospital physician group have a faculty appointment with the school of medicine.
Gazette reporter Ned B. Hunter contributed to this article.