Leadership Forum tapped for business perspective

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The Regional Leadership Forum has an unofficial seat at the table during deliberations about the future of Memorial Health System, but what expertise the forum, made up of volunteers from the business and arts community, will bring to the discussion remains to be seen.

Forum Chairman Phil Lane admits they don’t have experience crafting requests for proposals that will bring bidders into the process. He also admits they don’t have health care experience.

So, the group will hire a new health care consultant, and an expert in creating RFPs will be hired by the group, to be paid for by the group with the winning bid.

The lack of health care experience doesn’t bother Mayor Steve Bach, who says the group brings other valuable experience.

It was at Bach’s behest the group got involved in the process — although he says City Council made the formal request.

“This is a group of distinguished community leaders from throughout the city,” he said. “They’ve agreed to come in and bring objectivity to the process, to help voters be confident about whatever choice the city council decides to bring before them next spring.”

Bach says the group’s business experience will be a benefit.

“These are people who have experience negotiating contracts and leases,” he said. “It makes sense to do this, because they bring openness and transparency to the process.”

However, neither Bach nor the three representatives of the Regional Leadership Forum — Doug Quimby, Phil Lane and Chris Jenkins — are official members of the task force.

That means they do not fall under the open meetings act, and can meet with each other — or with the actual members of the task force individually, outside public view.

That aspect doesn’t trouble Councilwoman Jan Martin, who is heading the Council’s Memorial Task Force.

“The four of us who are on the task force, we’re committed to a fair and open, public process,” she said. “The others are ex-officio members, volunteers. If we’re going to be successful, we have to be transparent in order to gain the trust of the people.”

Martin believes the addition of the three RLF members — and six others from the medical community — can only enhance the contentious process.

“All the groups represented in the RLF have an interest in what happens to Memorial hospital,” she said “They have an extensive business background and the combination of their experience and desire for what’s best for the hospital — that’s why they’re on the task force.”

Martin just wants the process to move forward and a decision to be reached.

“We’ve been talking about Memorial for nearly two years,” she said. “Every time we have a group meet and reach a conclusion, there is criticism from outside groups. This is a way to come together at the table, and find the best way to work together.”

Martin has been involved in the process since the beginning — the only current Council member to attend meetings of the Memorial Citizens’ Commission. And she says she’s tired of the criticism leveled at the volunteer group.

“It’s has been a long two years,” she said. “It’s difficult to reach a decision about the future and then to be criticized by outside groups. As a community we seem to be critical of the people and the process, unless we have a seat at the table. We criticize new ideas, instead of embracing them.”

That’s where she puts all the concern over the Regional Leadership Forum’s role in the process — criticism leveled by people uninvolved in the process.

“We tend to shoot the messenger,” she said. “And if we keep doing that, we’re not going to have people volunteer to be those messengers.”

The task force meets again today, to discuss the terms of the lease agreement and the parameters for the request for proposals. The task force’s official members — Martin, Tim Leigh, Merv Bennett and Brandy Williams — must make a recommendation to City Council, about which group will lease the hospital’s assets from the city. RFPs are expected to go out by the end of September, and are due back to the task force by the end of November.

City Council Task Force members

Jan Martin

Brandy Williams

Merv Bennett

Tim Leigh

Ex-officio members

Randy Purvis, former council member

Mayor Steve Bach

Phil Lane, chairman of the Regional Leadership Forum

Doug Quimby, chairman of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp and president of La Plata Communities

Chris Jenkins, chairman of the Downtown Partnership and president of Nor’wood Development Group

Dr. David Corry, Memorial vascular surgeon

Carolyn Flynn, Memorial trauma nurse

Dr. David Steinbruner, Army doctor

Steve Schaefer, CEO of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and formerly the vice president of strategic development at Memorial

Dr. Michael Welch, Peak Vista Community Health Centers

Charlie Sweet, executive director of strategic planning and initiatives at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs