Merger instead of independence for Memorial?



Memorial North
  • Memorial North

Might city-owned Memorial Health System change its request from seeking independent nonprofit status to becoming a partner in a larger health system?

That topic may emerge on Thursday when Dr. Rulon Stacey, CEO of Fort Collins' Poudre Valley Health System, speaks to a Colorado Springs task force studying a new form of governance for Memorial in preparation of possibly placing a ballot measure before voters in November.

Poudre Valley switched from a public hospital to a community nonprofit, and has developed into a resounding success story.

Stacey speaks to the task force, comprised of City Council members and Memorial trustees, at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Pikes Peak Room in City Hall.

Memorial's spokesman Brian Newsome will blog the meeting at

According to Newsome:

Poudre Valley Health System converted from a Larimer County hospital to an independent nonprofit in the 1990s. The county held onto the assets, but the nonprofit took over operations through a lease arrangement. Since then, the health system has become one of the best in the country. For example:

Jobs grew at a rate five times faster than the population.

PVHS grew from a $100 million a year hospital serving Fort Collins to a $1.2 billion a year health system serving northern Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

It earned a Baldrige Award, one of the highest honors for quality in health care.

It has been repeatedly named one of the 100 best places to work in health care.

It has not only become one of the highest quality health systems in the country, but its cost are lower than most other places in Colorado.

Then, last week, Poudre Valley announced it will form a partnership with the University of Colorado Hospital.

The Denver Post reported on the proposed merger, which was driven by the evolution of health care brought about by health insurance reform.

Stacey, who is currently the chairman of the American College of Healthcare Executives, spoke last year to the City Council-appointed Citizens’ Commission during its evaluation of ownership models of Memorial.

At that time, he said Memorial will “die” as a city hospital, based on the dramatic changes in the industry. The Citizens’ Commission ultimately recommended a model similar to Poudre Valley’s.

Now, the task force, composed of City Council members and Memorial board members, is evaluating that recommendation and considering whether to put it before voters.

But with Poudre Valley's recent merger announcement, it begs the question of whether Memorial should jump into that kind of arrangement, becoming the partner that would strive to dominate the southern part of the state while enjoying the benefits of connecting with a university hospital and staff.

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