An abrupt change in leadership atop University of Colorado Health included the resignation of Memorial Hospital's chief executive and its top financial officer - departures that came as a surprise to some in the health care community.

Mike Scialdone, who oversaw Memorial Hospital's transition from city-operated hospital to city-owned facilities leased by UCHealth, stepped down from his post effective Friday, UCHealth officials announced Friday.

George Hayes, the Medical Center of the Rockies' president and chief executive, immediately replaced him.

Also, Dan Rieber, UCHealth's vice president of finance and controller, took over as Memorial's interim chief financial officer, replacing Tracy Narvet, whose resignation also was effective Friday.

No other departures from UCHealth outside of Memorial Hospital were announced. The president and chief executive of Poudre Valley Hospital assumed Hayes' old duties at the Loveland-based medical center. Medical Center of the Rockies and Poudre Valley Hospital are UCHealth facilities.

UCHealth officials framed the changes as another step in Memorial Hospital's makeover, which began Oct. 1, 2012 when UCHealth took over operation of Memorial's facilities across the city.

"This is sort of a transition to some of the long-term planning for Memorial Hospital, and to continue the growth," said Dan Weaver, a UCHealth spokesman.

Hayes said he became involved in discussions to take over Memorial Hospital late last week, and spoke of a "fairly quick" change.

The abrupt nature of Friday's announcement took some observers by surprise, even if leadership changes are common under a new regime.

"For me personally, yeah, it was unexpected," said Mike Ware, the El Paso County Medical Society executive director. "It's not something I was hearing any rumblings about.

"In the context of other consolidations... what the challenge for the new University Health is that they have three different cultures that they're trying to merge and get everyone with the same vision. Sometimes as executives, you have a different vision."

A veteran of the Colorado Springs health care industry, Scialdone saw Memorial Hospital through a transition that remains in its infancy.

He left his post as chief financial officer at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in 2008 to hold the same title at Memorial Hospital. He was promoted in 2012 during the controversial departure of former chief executive Larry McEvoy, who received a $1 million severance package.

Weaver declined to discuss whether Scialdone received a severance package, declaring personnel matters private. Scialdone could not be reached by The Gazette for comment.

"He has been an outstanding collaborator, and very good to work with," said Carol Bruce-Fritz, Community Health Partnership's executive director. Scialdone served on the nonprofit's board. "We're grateful for the things he's done for our community."

Hayes takes over Memorial Hospital about three months after Scialdone acknowledged patient volume and revenues being largely flat during the hospital's first year under UCHealth.

One year into the lease, Scialdone emphasized that vast changes had been made inside the hospital's walls - and new initiatives were on the way.

Last week, Scialdone sat before television cameras and announced plans to greatly expand Children's Hospital's presence in Colorado Springs - a move that could include a new stand-alone children's hospital near Memorial Hospital North, as well as a pediatric urgent care facility near Memorial's central campus.

In its first year of operating Memorial, UCHealth invested millions of dollars in capital improvements - such as a new, roughly $40-million electronic health records system that went live Nov. 2 - and hired dozens of doctors and physicians after beginning UCHealth's 40-year lease. Administrators also vowed in August to pursue a Level I trauma center, a move followed swiftly by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services' own announcement for a similar designation.

Hayes' appointment offers a homecoming of sorts. He graduated from Widefield High School in 1974, and his father was a civilian who worked at Fort Carson.

A career hospital administrator, Hayes received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and holds a master's degree in health care administration from the University of Minnesota. He spent most of the next 20 years in the Saint Luke's Hospital system, either helping to run its main campus in Kansas City or overseeing the construction of a 75-bed facility in Overland Park, Kan.

In 2004, he took over as president and chief executive of Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland - overseeing that hospital's transition to University of Colorado Health over the last few years.

"My track record is, I'm not the kind that moves around," Hayes said. "I tend to stay in one place and see things through."

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