University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) officials have signed a letter of intent to explore an affiliation with Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS).
At a Thursday, June 23, news conference, UCH President and CEO Bruce Schroffel said he is “excited about the possibility of a very different kind of health system for the region: the joining of two of the state’s most renowned health care organizations, both of which have won numerous national and international recognitions.”
PVHS, based in northern Colorado, is a regional medical hub that includes the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland and several area clinics. UCH is on CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus and has 10 clinics in the Denver area. It treats some 20,000 inpatients and 800,000 outpatients annually and is closely connected to the university’s mission in health care education.
“This is an opportunity to prepare for the changes we expect to see as a result of health insurance reforms,” said PVHS CEO Rulon Stacey. “While these changes are still largely undefined, the need to build strategic partnerships such as this one will only grow more pressing as time goes by.”
The letter of intent allows the organizations to negotiate over the coming months and may lead to a joint operating agreement that would detail how a new nonprofit health care system would operate. However, Schroffel and Stacey said each organization would retain control of operations at their respective facilities while a joint operating organization would be formed to oversee strategic direction and an overall budget for the unified system.
In a letter to Colorado lawmakers, Schroffel, Stacey and CU President Bruce Benson wrote that negotiations would “consider any statutory implications.” The Colorado Legislature passed Senate Bill 91-225 in 1991, which led to UCH becoming an authority, granting it autonomy from many of the state fiscal and operational requirements that govern higher education. UCH and CU entered into an affiliation agreement in March 1993 to forge an arrangement to “ensure the quality, integrity, safety and continuity of the university’s public education, research, patient care and public service programs.”
The CU Board of Regents was briefed on the letter of intent at its meetings this week in Colorado Springs. Board Chairman Kyle Hybl said the board supported exploring the possibilities of the affiliation.