by Pam Zubeck
In the 12 months since the City of Colorado Springs handed over the proverbial keys of its city-run hospital to University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), Memorial has celebrated successes and achieved milestones – all in the interest of improving quality, safety and efficiency while providing the highest level of care to patients.
The historic transaction on Oct. 1, 2012, marked a new beginning for Memorial as part of the only Colorado health system to combine community-based hospitals with academic medicine. The transition, which concluded nearly 70 years of city governance, came after the ballot question to lease Memorial to UCHealth earned overwhelming support from voters – 83 percent – in what Mayor Steve Bach at the time called “a mandate.”
So what exactly has happened in the past year?
— Memorial Hospital doubled the number of physicians in its medical group, hiring specialists in cardiology, oncology, thoracic surgery, neuroscience, trauma, breast surgery and other areas.
— Memorial achieved Primary Stroke Center Accreditation and Chest Pain Center Accreditation with PCI, two distinguished designations of quality.
— UCHealth spent about $37M on new technology, repairs and other improvements at Memorial. That’s about $2M more than in the three previous years combined. Among the improvements:
— State-of-the-art technology, including an O-Arm multi-dimensional surgical imaging system and a Discovery 619 PET/CT.
— Air handlers and boilers.
— Patient quality and safety improvements such as infusion pumps and anesthesia machines.
— A new electronic medical records system is scheduled to launch on Nov. 2. This system will allow patients to access lab results, consult with physicians, make appointments and conduct other medical-related activities online. It will improve the level of care provided and allow doctors at Memorial to better communicate with doctors at University of Colorado Hospital and its other sister facilities.
— Memorial’s quality measures improved significantly. Specifically, Memorial’s overall core measures, a primary indicator, improved from 88.1 percent in 2012 to 95.5 percent this year.
— Memorial’s pediatric care is now provided by Children’s Hospital Colorado, continually acknowledged as one of the nation’s top ten Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News and World Report and Parents magazine.
— Memorial is pursuing Magnet designation for nursing, a distinction held by only 5 percent of hospitals nationally.
— Plans are underway to increase Memorial’s care for the most seriously injured patients, which will lead to a Level 1 Trauma Center designation.
— The CU School of Medicine is establishing a branch medical campus, with the first round of students expected to be in Colorado Springs by 2016.
“When our community decided overwhelmingly to make Memorial part of University of Colorado Health, voters placed an unbelievable amount of trust in us,” said Memorial President and CEO Mike Scialdone. “They placed a treasured community asset in the hands of another organization with the hope that it would elevate the level of care and service provided to our community and improve lives. I am pleased to report that we are not only meeting those expectations, but exceeding them. Patients in Southern Colorado have access to new, high-quality services, and this is only the beginning to improvements at Memorial.”
More investments are on the horizon as Memorial continues to recruit physicians, expand programs and services, and benefit from being associated with one of the top academic hospitals in the country.