Mike Scialdone has steered Memorial Health System during the highs and lows of the past four years.
Hired in 2008 during a financial crisis that doubled the system’s interest rates for its auction rate bonds, Scialdone created the solution that earned Memorial $18 million in profit the next year, even with refinancing costs.
He was there to answer questions during the Citizens’ Commission charged with recommending a path for Memorial’s future. And he was there when that path suddenly changed and City Council decided to send out Requests for Proposals.
He was the man tapped to lead the system in an interim status during a tumultuous time — after then-CEO Dr. Larry McEvoy left abruptly and set off a firestorm of complaints due to the $1.15 million exit pay negotiated with the former board.
And Scialdone was the one calling for calm as those board members were removed and then replaced with a short-term, temporary board.
Behind the scenes, Scialdone has kept up that high profile. He’s helped smooth the way for the University of Colorado Health, which will take over the hospital starting Monday, Oct. 1. His is the voice that UCH officials listened to in order to learn more about the system. He was the one urging transparency with employees and sending them information about the lease agreement.
So, it’s little wonder that now he’s been tapped to continue as Memorial’s CEO under the new three-hospital system.
Bruce Schroffel, CEO of UCH, made the announcement earlier this week, saying that Scialdone had been a “great asset in helping us understand the needs of Memorial and the community it serves, as well as its employees.”
Scialdone at the helm means a smoother transition for a system weary of uncertainty. When voters approved the lease agreement Aug. 28, it ended nearly three years of task forces, commission meetings, public hearings, debate and questions.
“In addition to strong financial expertise and hospital experience, Mike brings a commitment to improving patient safety and clinical quality, a must for anyone who is part of UCHealth,” said the letter from Schroffel announcing the decision. “I firmly believe that his mix of skills will help make Memorial the strong southern Colorado hub of our system that we envision.”
Scialdone started at Memorial in 2008, moving from competitor Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, where he was also CFO. He graduated from Auburn University, and three years after graduation, became CFO for an HCA-run hospital.
He says that under his leadership, the hospital will continue to focus on quality of care with a strong balance sheet.
“We’re going to focus to strengthen the quality of care to the community,” he said. “We haven’t been in a ‘wait mode’ these past three months. We’ve been working to align the system, to get ready for a smooth transition.”
That transition will happen Monday, when UCH officially takes over daily operation of the hospital. But it’s been years in the works.
“It’s always good when it’s official,” he said of his permanent post.
Scialdone says he believes the UCH arrangement can only strengthen the hospital. He believes uncertainty over ownership and governance led Standard & Poor’s to rate the hospital at an A- and Moody’s Investment Services to rate bonds at A3.
“The uncertainty was holding us back,” he said. “And it’s time to put the uncertainty to bed. Oct. 1 is certainly a big day for us. And we plan to have a smooth transition. There are a hundred moving pieces to that — but we’re not going to take focus away from patient care.”
Not all the leadership roles are in place at Memorial, however. The city still needs to choose a board of directors for the system. Colorado Springs will have seven members of the 11-member board, and UCH will choose four others.
The problem for the new board seems to be that there are few applicants. The city has extended the deadline for applications for the Memorial board until Oct. 4, looking for residents with strong financial backgrounds, knowledge of health-care management, community involvement, board and nonprofit experience.
Until those seven members are chosen, an interim board will lead the system, starting Monday. Colorado Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher, along with City Council members Brandy Williams and Merv Bennett, will be on that board. Anthony DeFurio and Schroffel will represent UCH on the temporary board.