Despite a 10-month review by a Citizens' Commission to figure out the best future for Memorial Health System (MHS), Memorial remains a healthy target for acquisition, according to its CEO.
The health system is currently owned and governed by the City of Colorado Springs.
In an email sent out by Memorial CEO Larry McEvoy to members of the city council Monday, McEvoy talks about a meeting he had with the CEO of HCA-Health One, LLC, Jeff Dorsey, along with Kevin Walker, who runs a consulting company in Colorado Springs. Walker, who also was behind a ballot initiative to create a strong-mayor form of government, arranged the meeting.
One point that McEvoy stresses in his emails is Dorsey's belief that the Citizens' Commission process, "lacked diligence and access for all comers to the table," with emphasis on the option of selling Memorial Health System to a for-profit company. The commission's final recommendation for city council members, approved unanimously in November, was to make MHS an independent non-profit. The panel, and McEvoy claim they looked at a number of different business models, and decided on the not-for-profit option as the best long-term proposal.
In McEvoy's email to council members, he writes,"To keep you all in the loop as my fiduciary governors, I want you to know the essence of that conversation. Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Walker expressed Health One's interest in acquiring or affiliating with MHS and proposed a new group or commission to re-initiate this [recommendation] process."
After the meeting, in a follow-up email to city council members, McEvoy still seemed convinced on the non-profit option. "While our conversation [with Health One] was cordial, and while as the leader of MHS I remain personally committed to frank and open dialogue about how to best continue a community conversation regarding our local health care, I am firmly committed to the value of community-based, non-profit health care as recommended by the process of the Citizens' Commission which you [city council] chartered," wrote McEvoy.
The next decision on the future of Memorial Health System will be made by city council members. If they approve the Citizens' Commission's recommendations to shift to a not-for-profit business model, the final say would go back to voters as a ballot question.
Below is a statement sent out by Memorial Health System CEO Larry McEvoy, following the release of the emails revealing the meeting with Health One.
Memorial’s mission is to provide the highest-quality health care to the community of Colorado Springs.
The independent Citizens’ Commission recommended converting Memorial from a city enterprise to a community nonprofit. We strongly support this recommendation and believe it will ensure our long-term viability while preserving our commitment to providing the highest-quality patient care.
In the spirit of being transparent, I met yesterday with the CEO of HCA-HealthONE, LLC, and Kevin Walker. The meeting was at their request, and they wanted to discuss the possibility of selling Memorial to the for-profit corporation. But like the Citizens’ Commission, Memorial believes that an outside, for-profit health care system is not the best option for Colorado Springs.
Around the country, the best names in health care – the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Poudre Valley Health System, to name a few – are community nonprofits.
The Citizens’ Commission held 50 public meetings, spoke to approximately 75 local and national health care experts, and spent hundreds of hours studying Memorial’s ownership structure. The group evaluated eight ownership options against a dozen criteria.
We disagree with the notion that this process might, in some way, be incomplete or less than transparent. The commission heard an extensive presentation from David Burik, a leading expert in hospital transactions, about the pros and cons of selling Memorial to a for-profit corporation. But the commission determined that a community nonprofit model is the best option for Memorial and for the future of Colorado Springs.
As a nonprofit, Memorial will not only survive but thrive, providing even better patient care than we can today and serving Colorado Springs for generations to come.
-Larry McEvoy, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Health System