Memorial lease benefits extend beyond UCCS campus
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 03:08
This has been, to word it mildly, an eventful summer.
Not only has our university comforted the community during its time of need by providing housing and financial support to Waldo Canyon fire evacuees, but we have also broken ground for the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences, one of the multiple new structures currently underway on campus.
Yet our biggest opportunity for growth in recent memory– a University of Colorado School of Medicine branch – has yet to be decided.
Its fate now relies on Issue 1A, University of Colorado Health’s lease of Memorial Health System. Because of the benefits to both our city and university, The Scribe urges you to vote yes.
Colorado Springs stands to receive almost $1.9 billion from the 40-year lease, including $3 million a year to establish a University of Colorado School of Medicine branch at the Lane Center.
Even though the City of Colorado Springs is responsible for Memorial’s poor condition, it would still have a say in how the lease money is spent.
Mayor Bach would appoint a board for that purpose, yet another potential mismanagement of funds waiting to happen.
While the lease is less than perfect in that respect, we find relief in knowing that University of Colorado Health would be the chief decision maker for Memorial.
As a city-run hospital, Memorial has sunk to approximately $324 million in debt. When former Memorial CEO Larry McEvoy received his infamous $1.15 million separation agreement in April, his flashy exit made a mockery of any argument for the City of Colorado Springs to maintain ownership.
If anything, McEvoy’s golden parachute was a plea for sensible leadership. University of Colorado Health, U.S. News & World Report’s best-ranked hospital in Colorado and number one academic hospital in the country, can provide it.
Not only has University of Colorado Health been praised for its care and specialties, but it has also received nationwide recognition for the performance of its doctors and nurses.
As for the roughly 4,000 employees who remain at Memorial, they are guaranteed their jobs for six months if the lease is approved. What happens after that is unclear. Sadly, as is the case with any takeover, layoffs are a possibility.
But if Memorial remains indebted, floundering and losing even more money, people will continue to lose their jobs, and its doctors and nurses will continue to flock to hospitals that can guarantee a more secure future.
We support Issue 1A because its victory would be shared by all of us. We need an efficient hospital that can raise standards of care and, from a long-term perspective, jumpstart local health care and new jobs.
After all, we would have a medical school that would attract more students and an employer that would seek continual improvement and expansion – just like UCCS.