Memorial consultant: It is ‘not up to me to decide’

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Memorial Health System is paying the consultant hired to help guide the citizens’ commission tackling questions about its future more than a quarter of a million dollars for a year’s work.

So, who exactly is the commission getting for Memorial’s $285,000?

There’s no doubt Larry Singer comes with impressive credentials. He’s an associate professor and director of the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at Loyola University’s School of Law in Chicago. He’s been a partner at a major Chicago law firm, focusing on patient care issues. And he’s worked as an attorney for the America Hospital Association.

He holds a master’s degree and a law degree, has taught courses in health care and written scholarly articles.

He also has consulted on some of the largest community and religious health system mergers in the country. His work has involved the negotiation of the acquisition, sale and merger of hospital facilities, as well as the conversion of government-owned facilities to private, nonprofit status.

With a CV like that, it’s natural for some people to wonder whether Singer already has an idea of what should happen here. They wonder about his objectivity, and whether he has more to gain than just his consultant’s fee.

Singer hopes to set everyone’s mind at ease.

“My role is to facilitate the process, to let the commissioners see all the different options,” he said. “I am merely a trusted adviser. It certainly is not up to me to decide – I’m going to help guide a process that will be objective, transparent, respected.”

Singer also said he has no preconceived ideas about what’s best for Memorial or for Colorado Springs. Local expertise is necessary to reach that opinion, he said, and that’s why a citizens’ commission is the best route to reaching any conclusion.

“The commission live there, they know the community, they know the history,” he said. “I don’t know any of that. But I do know the health care system, and I know the options. I can help guide the process. That’s my role.”

“For some systems, it makes perfect sense to change, for others it does not,” he continued. “I’m not a (hospital real estate) broker; I’ve never been a broker. I won’t be involved past the work of the commission. And the recommendations – those aren’t mine to make. The final decision belongs to the community, not to me.”

Singer said the most important thing to him is that the process is both transparent and thorough.

“Not everyone will agree with the final decision, but I want them all to understand the process we went through to reach it – and to agree the process was complete.”

Meeting times moved

Changes have been made as a result of the new leadership at the Memorial Commission. The panel’s meeting hours are now different, and it won’t meet as often.

The group will now meet the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and its sessions will start at 5:30 p.m. rather than 2:30 p.m.

Chairman Bob Lally said the changes were made to better accommodate the schedules of members of the public who might like to attend commission meetings. He is also planning the commission’s first town hall meeting for the last week in June and is now looking for the best location.

“I want to find a place that has some meaning – historic to the community, so people know where it is,” he said. “It has to be large enough, because we’re hoping a lot of people come and weigh in on the issues.”

Amy Gillentine can be reache d at 719-329-5205 or Friend her on Facebook.