Public hearing about Memorial lease today

The public gets a chance to weigh in on the Memorial Health System lease 3:30 p.m. today at the Colorado Springs City Council chambers, just a day after council  heard the details of the agreement.

“This is an historic day,” said Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin,  who has been involved in the lease process since it began  nearly two-and-a-half years ago. “I think we could not have gotten a better deal.”

Council members signaled their support of the lease with University of Colorado Health, which will be on the mail-in ballot election that ends Aug. 28.

After the public hearing today, Council is expected to approve the lease and ballot at its formal meeting June 26. Then, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers must approve the terms of the agreement, including setting up a city-owned foundation with proceeds from the lease.

“I have personally looked at his letters of approval for every hospital transfer that he’s done, and I’m confident that he’ll approve this,” said City Attorney Chris Melcher. “Ours is a transfer from a nonprofit to a nonprofit, and that gives the city extra flexibility with the lease.”

Suthers has 60 days to approve the lease details, but Melcher doesn’t believe it will take that long.

After that, if voters approve it, the city clerk has 10 days to certify the election, and weeks later – 12:01 a.m. Oct. 1 – Memorial will be in the hands of the University of Colorado Health.

It will become the southern headquarters for the three-branch medical powerhouse, headed by the University of Colorado Hospital. Poudre Valley Health Centers is also a partner, under a joint operating agreement that UCH agreed to last year.

UCH is paying about $1.9 billion during the 40-year term of the lease to operate the hospital system.

But that doesn’t mean the work is finished. In addition to finalizing the lease arrangements, Council must appoint three members to a six-member temporary board who will lead the hospital until the nonprofit is fully operational, no longer than 18 months from the time the lease is signed.

The city must also select three members of a six-member nominating committee who will then choose the 11 members of the permanent board. Of those 11 members, seven will be from El Paso County.

To see details of the lease, click here.