Council notion amounts to a raid on Memorial

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Memorial Health System is one of the city’s greatest assets, is one of the most respected hospital systems in the state, and, over the years, has treated hundreds of thousands of people.

In short, it has given a lot to the community.

Some on City Council don’t think it has given enough.

As Business Journal reporter Amy Gillentine reported last week, council members unanimously agree the hospital should become an independent, nonprofit entity. But they aren’t willing to let the hospital go without some sort of financial compensation, a payoff, in effect.

It’s a greedy notion that deserves zero support.

You can almost imagine some of these politicians rubbing their hands in expectation of a multimillion-dollar deposit into the city’s general fund.

Others on council have a more noble expectation that money from the sale of the hospital would be reinvested in a foundation supporting health care, which is a great idea.

The notion that money from the sale of the hospital should be used for anything other than health care is without merit.

It’s natural to reason that some kind of payoff would make sense, given that the city has invested so much into Memorial over the years. The problem: there’s been no investment by the city since its acquisition (for $76,500) of the hospital in 1943.

Members of the council might stop to consider all that the community has already received in return for the city’s initial one-time investment.

Memorial is the state’s only pediatric intensive care unit outside of Denver. It has been named one of the Top 100 cardiac hospitals in the nation. Its ER is the busiest emergency department in the state, and it responded to the city’s population boom on the northside by building a new hospital near Powers and Union boulevards. It also spends about $70 million a year delivering care to the poor, services for which it is never reimbursed.

It has done all of this without a cent of taxpayer support.

Memorial’s priority has always been health care.

Let’s spin it off, lease the nonprofit entity that assumes control the hard assets (so that the city can retain some measure of control), and let the Memorial team get back to the job of addressing this community’s health care needs.