I have had the privilege of both living in Colorado Springs for most of my life and practicing medicine here for nearly 28 years. We are extremely fortunate to have two competing, but collegial hospital systems in our city that are mission driven to provide care to all, regardless of financial status. I have been dismayed with the recent mass mailing literature suggesting that the City Council should slow down. Whoever is behind this campaign won’t even attach their name to the literature. I believe that rather than “slowing down”, we have a wonderful opportunity to improve the way health care is delivered in our city by acting to vote Memorial as a 501c-3.
The idea of selling Memorial to a for-profit corporation would mean the eventual reduction or loss of services that typically don’t make money. A few that come to mind are high-risk pediatric specialties, high-risk obstetrics, and trauma and emergency services — all of which Memorial excels in. It would mean that health care decisions would move from our local community to a boardroom in an unknown city. It would inevitably mean profits would leave our city to be distributed to corporate investors, rather than being reinvested in needed services and equipment here as they are now. The migration of indigent care from Memorial to Penrose would be audible.
Secondly, the implication that the Citizens’ Commission did not consider all options is without merit. I attended several of these meetings and followed others on line. The querying by the members of this committee of all possible options and the attention to detail was impressive. The unanimous recommendation that Memorial become a 501c-3 non-profit was well thought out. There are manifold examples of the high quality of care that may come from such a structure and many believe community non-profit entities are positioned to provide the highest quality care.
Finally, the misconception that Memorial has used “taxpayer money” for newspaper ads and public relations consultations is without merit. Taxpayers have not contributed any funds to the Memorial system for decades. Like any large organization, both for-profit and non-profit health systems have advertising and public relations budgets. The criticisms that purchasing these ads or asking for public sentiment in an opinion poll are examples of “lack of oversight” are political grandstanding.
As I enter the winter of my medical career, I realize that the decision our community makes regarding the future of the Memorial Health System will affect me more as a consumer than a provider. Memorial needs to be much more nimble in the future to compete in the healthcare quagmire, free of the entropy of city council oversight. We need the ability to reinvest our health care dollars locally without corporate investors seeking a return. The choice is quite clear to me. I would urge you to support the Citizens’ Commission recommendation to allow Memorial to transition to a community non-profit model.
Dr. Patrick O. Faricy