University of Colorado Hospital bids to run Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs

Potential alliance could pave way for branch medical campus
By Staff

The University of Colorado Hospital is leading a partnership group that is among five bidders to operate Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, which is now run by the city.

The UCH partnership includes the CU School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Poudre Valley Health System, which has been negotiating an affiliation agreement with UCH over the past several months. The partnership’s offer includes some $74 million in funding up front, but a total package of nearly $1.8 billion.

The UCH proposal includes establishing a branch medical campus at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, which School of Medicine officials have been exploring for nearly two years. An alliance would speed that process along, said School of Medicine Dean Dick Krugman. He told a community forum on Wednesday that the branch campus could be operating within two years.

A task force that includes members of the Colorado Springs City Council and community members will make a recommendation to the full city council before the end of December. Voters must approve any change. The other bidders are:

  • The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, which operates the Exempla Healthcare system in the metro Denver area;
  • HCA/ HealthOne, metro Denver’s largest hospital operator;
  • Centura Health, the parent company of Penrose-St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs;
  • Memorial Health System, whose current management intends to make the hospital an independent nonprofit.

CU officials made their pitch to the task force last week and presented again Wednesday at a public forum, where community members asked questions.

CU President Bruce Benson told the audience on Wednesday that CU is “completely committed” to the bid and to the community.

UCH President and CEO Bruce Schroffel said Wednesday that the CU group shared the values and vision of Memorial. He also told the crowd the UCH proposal strongly and unequivocally reiterates the hospital’s commitment to serving members of the military and the medically underserved. The alliance would also make Memorial the southern Colorado flagship of a system that would span the Front Range, providing a greater breadth and depth of services and financial resources while also focusing on the health care needs of the Pikes Peak region.

Board of Regents Chairman Kyle Hybl, R-Colorado Springs, said the alliance has the potential to be “transformational” for the community and region. He pointed to a previous successful example of CU partnering with the city, when voters in the late 1990s approved the Beth-El College of Nursing becoming part of UCCS.