Other hospital systems who have expressed an interest include Community Health System and Banner Health System.
HealthONE is making no secret of its interest, either. Memorial has a great reputation statewide, hence the interest, said HealthOne spokeswoman Linda Kanamine.
“It’s not all that complicated from our perspective,” she said. “We’ve known and worked with Memorial in various ways through the years. The system has accomplished a lot in the region. It’s just a good fit.”
If HealthONE purchases Memorial, it would be its first hospital venture outside the Denver metro region.
HealthONE is a joint venture between HCA, a private health care company, and the Colorado Health Foundation, the second largest nonprofit in the state.
Because it is structured in that way, HealthONE pays taxes.
“We are private; we pay taxes,” Kanamine said. “But we also had $500 million in what the IRS defines as community benefit last year.”
Those dollars are not taxed.
The interest doesn’t surprise Memorial CEO Larry McEvoy. But he points out no firm offers can be entertained “until the voters decide if they want to sell.”
Kanamine said so far, there has been little more than discussion with the civic and business leaders in the Springs, and that HealthONE understands it will be a while before it can move ahead.
McEvoy said the recession hasn’t stopped health care mergers and acquisitions.
“One way to survive in health care is to build a bigger boat,” he said, “so groups are going to be interested. It’s not surprising. Our platform here is what I call, ‘wide and deep.’ We’re an attractive target.”
Memorial would be a great purchase for any hospital system – the city is growing and services are already in place, he said. The hospital controls 60 percent of the market.
It’s little wonder that interested buyers are watching the work of the commission closely.
The hospital has been on buyers’ radars since 2008, when the city council again started discussing the sale of the hospital.
Memorial Commission chairman Steve Hyde mentioned the interest at Tuesday’s commission meeting, when the group passed a resolution that prohibits them from entering into discussions about the sale of Memorial without the rest of the commission present.
“I’ve had some contact with a proprietary hospital,” Hyde said. “I just told them that it was too early for the conversation. I did ask them for contacts with other cities who have sold their hospitals.”