Sisters of Charity first up for task force questions

Filed under: Daily News,Health Care |

Those bidding to lease Memorial Health System are on the hot seat this morning.

All five groups that want to lead the hospital system will each face an hour of questions from City Council task force.

Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System was the first to be questioned.

The group has suggested taking over Memorial’s $313 million in debt and its estimated $191 million in unfunded pension.

In addition, they also have offered to pay $100 million in capital costs, and about $11 million a year for the lease.

But during the questioning, the administration also expressed willingness to locate a service center in the Springs – keeping back-office functions like accounting and human resources in the city. The average salary for those jobs is about $60,000.

Sisters of Charity recently took over Denver’s Exempla’s system. It also is responsible for the nationally recognized health system in Grand Junction.

Task force members were concerned about local control, and the hospital agreed to add a member of Colorado Springs health community to its corporate board, as well as saying that the group would also have a local board with a majority of local members.

“We operate on a consensus model,” said CEO Mike Subowski. “All our hospitals have input into the capital process.”

Task force member Doug Quimby, who is also chair of the Economic Development Corp. board, asked about jobs. Subowski refused to say whether they would cut staff.

“Patient rates are down as fewer people are going to hospitals,” he said. “So hospital staff will change. But there are growth opportunities for jobs in outpatient center, ambulatory service centers, places that are seeing growth.”

Other task force members were concerned about Sisters of Charity’s stance on some reproductive issues and procedures.

Subowski said there were some things the system wouldn’t do because they were a Catholic system.

“But those are a very small part of what any hospital does,” he said. “Those procedures – sterilization, for instance – can be done in a non-invasive, outpatient manner, in an ambulatory surgical center or doctor’s office. There are plenty of assets in the larger community that can handle those.”