COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado Springs voters agreed recently to lease Memorial to UCHealth, a decision that brings approximately $1.8 billion to the city over time and promises to expand on a century-long legacy of delivering healthcare to the Pikes Peak region. The historic decision, made in a special election, marks the first change in governance for Memorial since it was acquired by the city of Colorado Springs in 1943.
The growth of UCHealth is becoming a model for independent hospitals and systems across the nation to follow. The changing healthcare environment makes survival difficult for independent hospitals, but an affiliation with a high-caliber system enables hospitals to improve both quality and efficiency.
“UCHealth is experiencing tremendous growth, while keeping our patients as our number one priority,” UCHealth CEO Bruce Schroffel said. “We plan to grow with Memorial into a regional hub that reaches patients and improves healthcare throughout southern Colorado.”
Although the city will retain ownership of Memorial’s buildings, the organization’s employees and operations will be transferred to UCHealth. Additionally, Memorial Hospital for Children will now be operated by Children’s Hospital Colorado as part of the change.
UCHealth formed earlier this year when Aurora-based University of Colorado Hospital and Fort Collins-based Poudre Valley Health System merged. Both are among the highest-ranked in the nation for quality, technology and employee satisfaction. The system recently entered into a management agreement with Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyo.
With the addition of Memorial, UCHealth becomes the first Colorado-based health system to span the Front Range. Among the first benefits will be an integrated electronic medical record to be shared by all its patients from Colorado north into Wyoming. The health system is the first of its kind nationally to integrate the strengths of community-based care and academic medicine, a new approach to healthcare that may serve as a model for other communities. UCHealth will begin operating Memorial on Oct. 1, and all MHS employees will become UCHealth employees. At that time UCHealth will become one of the largest employers in Colorado with almost 14,000 employees.