Nearly two years ago, Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs was facing a threatened future, to say the least.
The city-operated enterprise endured the ugly departure of its CEO, Dr. Larry McEvoy, whose highly controversial $1.15 million buyout left behind hard feelings, damaged morale and an alarming deterioration of Memorial’s strength in the local health care marketplace.
McEvoy left in May 2012 as the city was deciding to move forward with a long-term lease of Memorial to University of Colorado Health. But somebody had to step in and try to stop Memorial’s internal hemorrhaging, because the changeover to UCHealth was months away.
It was during that situation that the group then serving as Memorial’s board decided to go with its best alternative.
Mike Scialdone, who had been Memorial’s chief finance officer since 2008, became far more than a caretaker as interim CEO. He steadied the ship, immediately began working on a top-down strategy to improve staff morale and stability, and took a leading role in the transition to the UCHealth structure after the lease took effect in October 2012.
Scialdone’s reward was staying on as Memorial’s CEO, which delighted the doctors, nurses and support staff. From all outward appearances, despite some high-level turnover inside UCHealth that included the exit of CEO Bruce Schroffel and president Rulon Stacey, Scialdone’s place here seemed as secure as it gets in the health care world.
Then, without warning last week, a terse news release changed all that. Scialdone left Memorial, effective immediately on Jan. 17, and interim CFO Tracy Narvet also departed.
Mike Scialdone deserved the chance to make his own announcement to the public and media about leaving Memorial.
It was characterized as part of Memorial’s continuing transition, but that explanation came off as shallow. Given that Scialdone had been a Memorial executive for more than five years, and by all accounts had made a positive difference (also dealing extensively with the public), he deserved better.
Even if he was being forced out, Scialdone deserved the chance to make his own announcement. Certainly, he never had been a loose cannon, and he always handled himself admirably in public situations, representing Memorial during those treacherous times after McEvoy’s departure, then again around the switch-over to UCHealth.
There was an unusual twist in the news, because Scialdone’s replacement happens to be George Hayes, who moved in from Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. Hayes, who had served in the Loveland position since 2004 (and also through that facility’s own transition to UCHealth supervision) spent many formative years in the Colorado Springs area, graduating from Widefield High School, which should be viewed as a positive.
We look forward to seeing what kind of impact Hayes can have at Memorial. But at the same time, we still feel as though UCHealth has left some unfinished business with its handling of Scialdone’s dismissal. Assuming some kind of severance deal, normal in the health care industry, we don’t expect to hear anything more.
But we won’t forget how smoothly and effectively Scialdone led Memorial through such a trying time. And we couldn’t help but notice that nobody had a bad word to say when he suddenly was gone.
Based on that, we’ll lead the applause for Mike Scialdone, praising him for a job well done. And wherever he lands next, we’re certain he’ll succeed once again.