If you're a veteran, you'll be glad to learn that ground has been broken on an expanded outpatient clinic in Colorado Springs.
“With today’s groundbreaking, Southern Colorado welcomes a new, vital, and cutting-edge medical facility for all those who wore our nation’s uniform,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, said in a statement released today. “We have a sacred and profound debt to the nearly 500,000 veterans living in our state, and this new clinic will help us honor our promise to care for those who so bravely defended our country. This clinic is a small down payment on a debt owed by our nation. I look forward to what the new facility will achieve for our veterans.”
A 76,731-square-foot building at Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street will provide primary care, mental health and ancillary diagnostic services. The clinic is expected to provide services to more than 20,000 veterans annually in Southern Colorado.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, also issued a statement: "If you love freedom, thank a veteran. Those who have served and fought and, in some cases, died for our country are heroes. This new VA clinic represents a small measure of our devotion and gratitude to our veterans. We can never fully repay them for their sacrifices, but we can keep our promises to them. This clinic will make world-class medical care more accessible to veterans throughout the Pikes Peak region."
The company that will build the clinic, Colorado Springs VA, LLC lists a Kansas City, Mo., man as its registered agent in its filing with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office. It's a foreign limited liability company based in Delaware.
The press release:
WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs has selected the contractor to build an expanded community based outpatient clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“This new facility will ensure that Colorado’s Veterans continue to have the world-class medical care that they’ve earned through their service to our Nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
One of Secretary Shinseki’s top priorities is increasing access to VA care and services for Veterans wherever they live. VA is expanding access in a three-pronged effort that includes facilities, programs and technology.
The contract was awarded to Colorado Springs VA, LLC and will create 235 construction jobs. Once the facility is completed in spring 2014, VA will pay fully-serviced rent of approximately $3 million annually.
The contract calls for construction of a three-story building at the corner of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard in Colorado Springs. The project includes 76,731 square feet of space for specialty services for Veterans, including primary care, mental health and ancillary diagnostic services. More than 600 parking spaces will also be constructed.
The clinic will house outpatient services for more than 20,000 Veterans annually in the Eastern Rockies area.
Last year, VA spent $3.4 billion providing health care, benefits and services to Colorado’s 420,000 Veterans. VA operates major medical centers in Grand Junction and Denver, with outpatient clinics and Vet Centers across the state.
VA operates one of the nation’s largest integrated health care systems in the country. With a health care budget of about $50 billion, VA expects to provide care to 6.1 million patients during 920,000 hospitalizations and nearly 80 million outpatient visits this year. VA’s health care network includes 152 major medical centers and more than 800 community-based outpatient clinics.
For the next six months, the city, in partnership with Senior Mobile Dental, will be providing free dental screening to eligible people age 60 and up. The clinics are a part of the fire department's recent push to offer health clinics to the community, especially in low-income areas.
CSFD Partners with Senior Mobile Dental to Provide Senior Dental Care Clinics
Colorado Springs, CO — The Colorado Springs Fire Department has partnered with Senior Mobile Dental to provide Dental Hygiene clinics. These clinics will provide dental cleanings and conduct comprehensive screening to seniors in our community. The lead agency, Senior Mobile Dental, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the importance of oral health and focused on bringing dental hygiene services to the elderly population of Colorado.
Locations & Times include:
· Fire Station #8 3737 Airport Road 1st Monday of Every Month for the next 6 month starting November 5th -9:00am-3:00pm
Some oral conditions that will be screened include:
· Dental decay
· Oral cancer or suspicious lesions
· Gingivitis (gum tissue infection)
· Periodontitis (jaw bone infection)
· Dental infection/abscesses
· Ill fitting dentures or partial dentures
Clinics are first come first serve basis and are free for seniors age 60 and up who qualify under the poverty guidelines that will be determined by calling:
Call For Appointment - 719-310-3315
With a click, you can help Memorial Hospital University of Colorado Health win $10,000 as a donation to cancer research.
Go here to see the video Memorial produced with the help of 400 employees and volunteers. Even CEO Mike Scialdone got into the act. He made me laugh.
When you vote, don't look for Memorial; rather, Memorial's entry is under University of Colorado Health, Colorado Springs.
From the hospital's press release:
Memorial is participating in a national popularity contest in which hospitals show off their lighter sides via short, pink glove-themed YouTube videos in celebration of breast cancer awareness month. By visiting www.memorialhealthsystem.com and taking a moment to view the video and vote, people will help us raise $10,000 for the southeastern Colorado Chapter of Susan G. Komen. Voting ends Nov. 1.
HOW TO VOTE:
-Visit www.memorialhealthsystem.com or http://pinkglovedance.com/competition/vote.php
-Scroll down. Search for University of Colorado Health under “T-U.’’
- Click on “T-U”
-Find University of Colorado Health.
- Click on “Vote’’
More than 400 Memorial employees, doctors and volunteers — as well as therapy dogs and a horse named Sprout — donned pink to create an uplifting 3-minute, 45-second video that brings awareness to breast cancer.
One of our featured video starlets is 9-year-old Rhiannon McNab, a cancer patient and the granddaughter of Patti McNab, a cardio nurse at Memorial. Rhiannon gets credit for some of the choreography, and when she throws some punches as part of her routine, it’s not without meaning.
“This shows that I’m a fighter,’’ Rhiannon said during the filming.
Sloan Maes, director of oncology services for Memorial, said: “It is an opportunity to bring awareness to breast cancer, and to acknowledge that it is a journey full of hope — that’s the message that we want our video to portray.’’
The video was photographed and edited by Dylan Standish, an intern at Bourbon Street Video, with assistance from Richard Stamats, an employee for Sodexo, Memorial’s nutritional services contractor.
Mike Scialdone is eager to get off on the right foot. So he gave interviews to three newspapers today, the Independent included, a day after being named CEO of Memorial Health System.
Bruce Schroffel, CEO of Memorial's new partner, the University of Colorado Health, made the appointment. Scialdone has been holding things together as Memorial's interim CEO since Larry McEvoy bolted in May with a $1.15 million severance package.
Scialdone has been with Memorial for about four years and also worked for the Penrose-St. Francis system and private hospital giant HCA.
Scialdone wouldn't divulge his salary as CEO. As interim CEO, he was paid $477,600, quite a bit less than McEvoy's annual pay of $670,009.
But Scialdone clearly didn't want to focus on that. He wanted to talk about teaming up with a nationally acclaimed health system, UCH (and its partner, Poudre Valley Health System of Fort Collins).
The city closes the 40-year lease with UCH on Monday, giving UCH broad control over Memorial facilities and services in exchange for $259 million up front and $5.6 million annually for 30 years.
In recent weeks, UCH issued $300 million in bonds, Scialdone said, to help fund the transaction and put Memorial on solid financial footing. The rating agencies had good things to say about UCH, he said, noting that the lease would end the uncertainty for Memorial, which led one rating agency to downgrade Memorial's
rating outlook from stable to negative last spring.
"The opportunity to put the ownership and governance issue to bed in such a way with support from the community is an exciting opportunity, not only for Memorial but for Colorado Springs in general," he said. "There’s been so much noise, so many agendas that played in and around what was going on at Memorial, the understanding and communication of what and who we are got a little bit lost."
Scialdone, who has served as Memorial's chief financial officer, reiterated numerous times during our interview that Memorial's and UCH's commitment is to make sure staff and physicians "honor patients" by providing the best health care available.
Scialdone, who reports to Schroffel rather than the Memorial board, said he will work with UCH officials in selecting his executive team, which will include a chief financial officer, nursing officer, operating officer and medical officer. He intimated he plans to make those selections "with the least turnover possible."
After Springs voters approved the lease by a margin of 83 percent to 17 percent on August 28, Schroffel said he anticipated announcing a doctor group had agreed to return to Memorial but he wouldn't name the group.
Neither will Scialdone. But he did say, "We're having a lot of very good conversations," and added that both the election outcome and next week's deal closure are "going to be very important in showing the parties we’re talking to that we are a stable organization whose organization and governance isn’t a question any more."
He also said that the "productive path" of discussions has involved "a number of groups of physicians" that he hopes will finalize agreements with Memorial within two months.
"This is a tremendous opportunity," he said of the partnership the lease puts into place. "There’s a definite difference when you’re part of a system rather than a standalone facility."
Asked to describe his biggest challenge ahead, he said, "I think health care in general is a huge challenge when you look at uncertainty on the horizon. ... But at the end of the day, despite all that's going on, the challenge is to honor the trust patients put in us for care. If you look at health care and how many different factors impact that industry, the biggest challenge in health care is never losing sight of the fact when patients come to us, they are putting a tremendous amount of trust in us. Despite all the uncertainty, we never lose sight of that."
Those 59,820 people in Colorado Springs who voted to lease city-owned Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health will be happy to learn this: One of UCH's hospitals, University Hospital, has been named the highest-performing academic hospital for quality health care in the United States for the second year running, UCH says in a news release.
The designation was bestowed by the University HealthSystem Consortium, the 116-member alliance of the nation's leading nonprofit academic medical centers and 276 of their affiliated hospitals.
No other hospital has been named top performer over consecutive years.
On Aug. 28, voters in Colorado Springs overwhelmingly approved a 40-year lease of Memorial to UCH. The lease will close Oct. 1, and UCH will take over operation of Memorial and its assets. That said, there are some outstanding issues that will nag well beyond that transfer date.
From the release:
The award is given to the academic hospital with the best outcome scores in patient safety, clinical effectiveness, clinical efficiency, patient satisfaction, mortality and equity, which is a measure of whether outcomes differ for patients of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
"Last year, when the University of Colorado Hospital won this award for the first time, I thought it was the proudest moment of my career," said University of Colorado Health CEO Bruce Schroffel. "Now, to be named the top academic hospital in quality in the nation for two consecutive years, I'm speechless. This is the highest recognition any hospital can receive, and it motivates us to constantly focus on providing a level and quality of care not found anywhere else in Colorado or the United States."
Academic medical centers are the research and medical school-based hospitals generally seen as the best places for advanced, complex care. University of Colorado Hospital is the leading academic medical center in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region and is home to some of the nation's best specialists and sub-specialists. Through the research focus of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, UCH offers clinical trial drugs and innovative procedures unavailable at other hospitals in our region.
"Every day our nurses, staff and physicians strive to be the very best," University of Colorado Hospital President and CEO John Harney said. "We're honored that our hard work is being recognized, but the primary reason we strive for the top is to provide our patients with that award-winning care. From the moment patients step through our doors, we're focused on providing top quality treatment and a positive experience."
University of Colorado Hospital also received the 2012 UHC Supply Chain Performance Excellence Award which reflects the dedication of staff to ordering and delivering medications and supplies while maintaining high quality and efficiency.
"Supply chain might sound boring, but this incredible department ensures our nurses and doctors have the supplies they need exactly when they need them," said Harney. "A delay of even 15 minutes could put a patient at risk, so getting literally thousands of critical, sometimes short-lived medications and high-tech equipment to the right place at the right time is a science unto itself. Part of the UHC award is based on cost-effectiveness of the supply chain and the prices paid."
University of Colorado Hospital is now part of University of Colorado Health, a Colorado-based healthcare system comprised of five hospitals and many clinics and physicians stretching from Colorado Springs to Wyoming. The quality reflected by the UHC awards is shared across the system to improve health care throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
In addition to being named the top-performing academic hospital in the United States, U.S. News & World Report named University of Colorado Hospital the best hospital in Colorado in July 2012. The hospital's specialties have been ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News for 18 consecutive years.
County health has confirmed the first
-ever 2012 case of West Nile virus in El Paso County.
From a press release:
The person developed symptoms consistent with West Nile Virus in late August, and has been hospitalized.
“It’s important that people take action to protect themselves from potentially serious illness associated with West Nile virus. Individuals who cannot avoid being outside during dawn and dusk need to take greater precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” said Dr. [Bill] Letson, medical director at El Paso County Public Health.
Those of you who were alive in the ’90s probably remember when West Nile hit American shores. Initially misdiagnosed as St. Louis encephalitis, the foreign virus first struck New York City. It swept through the bird population, dropping thousands of them onto the streets in Queens and the Bronx. By the time the Centers for Disease Control finally figured it what it was, seven people had died.
Soon after that, the virus spread throughout the country.
Read the full press release, which includes symptoms (which most often aren't deadly) and precautions, after the jump.
From the listings desk: For virtually every cause, there's a walk or run, and that's a great thing. Looking at the calendar the way we do, it's heartening to see 5Ks for everything from suicide prevention to Alzheimer's research. And this Saturday brings another, the Colorado Springs 2012 Walk to Cure Diabetes.
This 5K walk is backed by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which states that more than 80 percent of its expenditures go directly toward research and education. Our walk will take place in America the Beautiful Park and gets started with 9 a.m. registration.
Floyd's 99 barbershop is also offering semi-permanent JDRF-colored hair streaks for $8, 50 percent of which will be donated to JDRF. Through mid-October, they will also give out services when customers donate.
As I've explained before, we're still learning about diabetes. While type 1, or juvenile diabetes, is largely diagnosed in childhood, there's also latent autoimmune diabetes, known as type 1½. This type is often misdiagnosed at type 2, however it shares components of both type 1 and 2 — and depending on the patient, may be more like one than the other. In my mother's case, it's a progressive disease, and will likely become more like type 1 as her pancreas eventually stops producing insulin (or so we expect).
Luckily, it is a manageable condition, and in time, research will discover new medicines and hormones, making life easier on patients. And maybe even a cure.
Education is also key. While weight plays a large role in how many view diabetes, genetics are what call the shots in type 1 and 1½. You can be as healthy as you want, like my mom, but that only means you'll have less trouble adjusting to the LADA lifestyle.
OK, don't mean to get all dour. All of this is just to say, there's never been a better time to streak your hair and get to steppin'.
City Attorney Chris Melcher got back to us via e-mail, saying:
The City is unfortunately not surprised by PERA's lawsuit, since PERA threatened to sue the City several weeks ago prior to the historic Memorial vote. Our negotiation team has gone to PERA's offices several times this summer in an effort to seek a reasonable resolution in this matter, and we continue to reach out to PERA to involve them in productive discussions. The new Memorial-University of Colorado Health partnership offers a wonderfully bright future for better healthcare for over 600,000 people. The UCH partnership is also terrific multifaceted opportunity for our entire City, improving the lives of both patients and Memorial employees, creating a new branch medical campus at UCCS, and creating jobs and new economic stimulus. With 83% of our City enthusiastically supporting this effort, we will again encourage PERA to look beyond their narrow interests and work together with us towards a positive outcome.
——————————-ORIGINAL POST TUESDAY, SEPT. 4, 3:49 P.M.———————————————
A court should take control over $259 million to be paid to the city of Colorado Springs by the University of Colorado Health for its lease of Memorial Health System, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday.
The Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) filed the lawsuit in response to the suit filed Aug. 1 by the city, which we reported first here. In that case, the city contends the city owes PERA nothing for the more than 4,000 Memorial employees who will leave PERA when on Oct. 1 they become UCH employees and join UCH's retirement plan.
In a news release, PERA notes the city takes the position it owes nothing even as it accepts $185 million from UCH for the purpose of settling accounts with PERA. The other $74 million the city gets is an up-front, one-time payment.
More from PERA's release:
PERA is asking the court to determine that in order for Memorial to terminate its affiliation with PERA, the parties must comply with the law, which includes paying for the retirement benefits already earned by Memorial employees.
Colorado State law sets forth requirements for when an employer in PERA’s Local Government Division “disaffiliates” and moves its employees into another retirement system. In particular, the law calls for reserves to be created for the payment of benefits earned as of the disaffiliation date by the employees of the disaffiliating employer. The law requires that the reserve be sufficient to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the remaining employers in the division.
“If an employer leaves PERA and does not provide an adequate reserve for the liabilities already earned by their employees, the cost of providing these benefits would be shifted to the remaining employers in the Local Government Division, including the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities,” said Gregory W. Smith, PERA’s Interim Executive Director. “PERA believes this is unfair because these benefits have already been earned as a result of work performed for the disaffiliating employer.”
Memorial is the largest employer in the Local Government Division (with the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities as the third and fourth largest employers in the division, respectively).
We've asked City Attorney Chris Melcher to comment. We'll update when we hear from him. In the meantime, here's the lawsuit:
Our most recent report on this matter can be found here.
This one hits home — so forgive the tone if I sound lecture-y.
You see, back on June 22, I was involved in a motorcycle accident that was not my fault, in which the driver of the car I impacted with never saw me, even though I had the right-of-way, was wearing bright yellow reflective gear, and was traveling below the speed limit.
So for my part, I'm thrilled to see the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) launching two new campaigns over this upcoming Labor Day weekend to hopefully bring down the sad number of motorcycle deaths in El Paso County, which leads the state.
One campaign, called Don't Ruin the Ride, focuses on keeping bikers from drinking and driving. According to a CDOT press release, one in four riders killed from 2009 to 2011 was under the influence.
The second campaign, more relative to my accident, is called Look Twice. This campaign asks motorists to keep their focus on their driving and "to take a couple of extra seconds to look carefully for motorcycles."
The statistic provided there is that in Colorado last year, "drivers of motor vehicles were at fault in 20 percent of motorcycle fatalities. However, in El Paso County, motorists — not the rider — caused half of motorcycle-related deaths."
The release goes on to share the story of Colorado Springs police officer Matthew Tyner, one of six motorcyclists killed so far in El Paso County in 2012, who was killed by "an unassuming driver who did not see him." (There have been 49 motorcycle deaths statewide thus far.)
Lecture over. I think you get the point.
But if you need one more reinforcement of why you should keep extra vigilant of your biker brethren, click for more to see a picture of my big-ass scar (don't worry, not bloody).
University of Colorado Health, the city's new partner in Memorial Hospital, is doing some poaching. That comes from UCH CEO Bruce Schroffel in an Independent interview yesterday, less than 24 hours after 83 percent of Springs voters approved leasing Memorial to UCH for 40 years.
The lease pays the city $259 million up front, of which $185 million has been designated as available to pay any liability to the Public Employees Retirement Association on behalf of Memorial's workers, who will shift to UCH's retirement plan. UCH also will pay $5.6 million a year for 30 years, plus an annual margin sharing payment, if there is one.
One of UCH's top focuses here will be recruiting doctors and other staff for Memorial, which has lost a lot of talent in the last couple of years to the Penrose-St. Francis system, owned by nonprofit Centura Health.
"I am concerned about that," Schroffel says. "We are talking to the physicians. A large group of physicians are leaving Penrose; we believe they will sign up with us [Memorial]. We are talking to other physicians.
We think others will come back, and we also will be recruiting. The University of Colorado Health has an incredible record in its ability to attract good physicians from around the U.S. We have a track record that’s pretty hard to beat. We hope to get those back who have left."
Schroffel wouldn't name the doctor group that will reverse course from Penrose and join Memorial, but said to expect an announcement soon.
On another matter, look for official word soon about Memorial's new management team. Will Mike Scialdone stay on as CEO? Scialdone, the former CFO, stepped into the top job a few months ago, when Dr. Larry McEvoy took $1.15 million in severance pay and left.
"We’re literally making that assessment now," Schroffel said of the management team. "I expect to have an answer over the next two to four weeks. I believe in local control. We want to have a CEO to make major decisions in Colorado Springs."
The UCH team is eager to whip Memorial into shape so that the entire system is prepared as the health care industry puts the squeeze on providers, he says.
"There’s going to be less resources for us," he says. "We’ve got to be more efficient. The goal is to raise the bar qualitatively and lower costs."
One way is to install the same electronic medical records system, called EPIC, in all of the UCH properties, which Schroffel says will save $35 million compared to installing separate system.
Although UCH has brought some other hospitals under its wing, Memorial is the big kahuna.
Here's what he had to say about it:
"We want to focus on Memorial more than anything. We’re taking on a big responsibility and significant risks, and it’s a very difficult time for the hospital the last three to four years. We think the physicians and staff are excited about us being there. We want to put most of our energy there. I'll be spending a couple days a week in Colorado Springs at a very minimum as we communicate with physicians and the community and really raise the bar down there — not that it’s really that low down there. We think that hospital is an excellent hospital and has potential to be great.
"Our board is very concerned about taking on too much at one time. Memorial is really big. Nothing is more important than Memorial. We’re fully at risk to make this work from a qualitative perspective.
"We feel like we’ve gotten a strong endosement from Colorado Springs and now we want to deliver.
We feel we can deliver. The whole country is looking at us. We pride ourselves on quality. We sincerely do. We want to make that consistent, so that you can walk into Memorial, University Hospital or Poudre Valley Hospital [Fort Collins], and it feels the same and the quality and service are the same."
As for charges, Schroffel predicts rates will decline, not only at Memorial but everywhere, because "that's the reality of health care in America. The country is challenged, and we want to make sure we provide a quality service at a lower cost."
While Schroffel identified the integration of Memorial as UCH's chief focus, the nonprofit is still casting its net to other players.
It's negotiating a management agreement with Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyo., after the board of directors issued a request for proposals earlier this year.
"We have signed a letter of intent. They chose us for a management contract. We will be managing that hospital with their existing team and taking advantage of our excellence in quality," Schroffel says.
Poudre Valley Health System secured a management of agreement with the Sidney Regional Medical Center in western Nebraska before the Memorial lease was worked out, he says, adding, "There's a lot of people we're talking to, frankly."
This from UCH's communications department:
"I think Bruce [Schroffel] misspoke tonight about the MHS signs. New signs went up tonight at both Memorial and Memorial North."
————— ORIGINAL POST, TUESDAY, AUG. 28, 9:28 P.M. —————
Calling the 83-percent "yes" vote to lease city-owned Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health a mandate, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said today's vote marked a watershed moment in the city's history.
The hospital, purchased by the city in 1943, will become the "southern flagship" in UCH's mega-health care system, UCH CEO Bruch Schroffel said during remarks at City Hall tonight.
Pam Schockley-Zalaback, chancellor at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, which will host a branch medical school as part of the lease, told the Indy, "I think the community really gets it. This moves us forward together with investment in the future. It's good for education. It's good for health care, and I think the community came together."
Kyle Hybl, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, was equally thrilled with the overwhelming support the lease got from 34 percent of the city's 176,556 registered voters.
"I'm truly pleased to know that Colorado Springs voted for a strong academic future, a strong health care future for our community and a strong economic future for our community," Hybl said in an interview.
City officials said 72,205 voters, or 41 percent, cast ballots. The unofficial tally: 59,820 yes; 12,298 no.
During brief remarks outside the City Administration Building, Bach reminded the small crowd on hand that a year ago the City Council was on the verge of turning Memorial over to a management group headed by Dr. Larry McEvoy, who left in May as CEO after the former Memorial board gave him a $1.15 million severance package.
But Bach and his cronies stepped in and demanded a competitive process, which yielded the 40-year lease agreement with UCH.
"There are few times when we have defining turning points," he said. "We're on the doorstep now of a wonderful future."
Bach used the moment to call for similar types of analysis be applied to "all the city's enterprises," and said the overwhelming vote indicates that voters trust the city.
Asked how the dispute with the Public Employees Retirement Association over Memorial employees' pensions will affect the transfer to UCH, Bach dodged the question, reiterating the city's position that the city owes PERA nothing. PERA, of course, disagrees, and a lawsuit will decide the question, as we reported here.
At a news conference a block away at City Hall, Schroffel said he was "ecstatic" at the outcome and said the historic vote will assure Memorial serves Springs residents for generations to come.
UCH President Rulon Stacey said UCH will leverage the strength of community health care and academic medicine to bring higher quality care to the region. He predicted the cost of care throughout the UCH system will go down because of the health care powerhouse's ability to collaborate and cooperate.
"We will waste no time to earn your trust and prove you have made a truly great decision," he said.
City Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin, who managed a contentious task force to a unanimous recommendation to City Council to choose UCH, credited everyone involved, saying, "We are here tonight because we all worked together. I'm really pleased to be standing here with our new partners in Memorial Hospital."
Asked what the first visible effect will be of today's vote, Schroffel said, "The first thing we want to do is build morale, build a team of physicians and staff at Memorial, and rebuild the place, which is already a strong hospital, raise the bar for quality of health care."
He said new signs won't be mounted at Memorial until the lease becomes effective Oct. 1.
The deal gives the city a $74 million upfront payment, plus $5.6 million per year for 30 years, along with $3 million a year for 40 years to UCCS for the med school. In addition, UCH will provide $185 million for the city to settle with PERA. If it takes less than that, the city keeps the difference; if it costs more, the city will have to dip into its other payments to make it up.
One reporter asked about whether people will be laid off after the six-month guarantee stated in the lease, a matter covered in our story reported weeks ago, which can be found here.
He noted UCH has added 800 jobs in the last five years, and Poudre Valley Health System has added about 1,200; there are no plans for layoffs, he said.
El Paso County Public Health is warning residents that a "wild bat" (as opposed to a pet bat?) was found dead Monday near the sidewalk outside the Starsmore Discovery Center, 2120 S. Cheyenne Cañon Road.
The bat tested positive for rabies.
Although the agency has received no reports that anyone touched the bat, making the likelihood of exposure low, the county is taking steps to find out if anyone has been exposed.
Hence, the following advisory:
People have reported seeing a bat flying during the day and landing on tree trunks near the bridge at the nature center from Saturday, Aug. 4 through Sunday, Aug. 5. Anyone who may have handled or touched the bat, or learns that a child or pet had contact with the bat Saturday through Monday should contact El Paso County Public Health. Call (719) 578-3220, Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. To reach staff after these hours, please call (719) 339-3230.
Rabies is a fatal disease that can be spread from a bat to a person or pet by a bite or scratch, even if very small or barely noticeable. Any human or pet who may have been bitten or scratched by this bat is at risk for getting rabies. There is medication available for exposed people that will prevent rabies infection. Those who saw the bat or were in the area and had no physical contact are not at risk.
It is estimated that less than 1 percent of bats are infected with rabies. However, bats found on the ground are much more likely to carry rabies (5-18 percent), according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In El Paso County, this is the second bat that has tested positive for rabies in 2012.
To avoid exposure to rabies:
· Never touch a wild bat or any other wild animal. A healthy bat likely will not come near enough to be touched, so a bat that is slow, lying on the ground or that lands on a person could be showing signs of illness. If you can touch the animal, chances are it is sick. Children who find a bat should leave it where it is and tell an adult.
· Do not pick up a bat with your hands, even if you’re wearing gloves. Use a shovel and double trash bags.
· If you are bitten by a bat or if you suspect you’ve been exposed to its saliva, try to contain the bat without touching it, and contact your local animal control agency or health department so the bat can be tested.
· Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies.
Here's the city's statement on Suthers' decision, released a little after 5 p.m.:
Proposed Lease of Memorial Health System to UCH Receives Approval from Colorado Attorney General
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has issued an opinion under the Hospital Transfer Act (C.R.S § 6-19-101, et seq.) approving the proposed lease of the Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health. City Attorney Chris Melcher applauded today’s decision from Attorney General Suthers that the City’s Proposed Lease of the Memorial Health System operations to University of Colorado Health is in full compliance with state law, and may now proceed for voter approval. The Attorney General’s office determined that the transaction involving Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs meets the relevant criteria of the Colorado Hospital Transfer Act and may proceed without further review by the Attorney General. The transaction will now be subject to a vote by the residents of Colorado Springs as part of a special election to occur on August 28, 2012.
“The Mayor, City Council, and UCH have worked together diligently over many months to structure a partnership that, if approved, is expected to dramatically improve health care services in our community, and provide a stable and exciting future for Memorial and the doctors, nurses, and staff who serve the patients and their families,” says City Attorney Chris Melcher. “With today’s decision by the Attorney General, the proposed lease of Memorial’s operations to UCH has been definitively cleared to proceed to the voters. Today is an exciting day for the future of our entire community, and we are gratified for a thoughtful and careful review that has confirmed our hard work.”
——- ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, 3:20 P.M. ——-
Attorney General John Suthers has approved the Memorial Health System lease to University of Colorado Health, his office said in a release issued a short time ago.
DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has issued an opinion under the Hospital Transfer Act (C.R.S § 6-19-101, et seq.) relating to the proposed lease of the Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health.
The Attorney General’s office determined that the transaction involving Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs meets the relevant criteria of the Act and may proceed without further review by the Attorney General. The transaction will now be subject to a vote by the residents of Colorado Springs as part of a special election to occur on August 28, 2012.
To read the opinion, go here.
This Saturday, July 21, marks the first of many health and wellness initiatives offered by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Every third Saturday of the month, from 10 a.m. to noon, CSFD firefighters, EMTs and paramedics will team up with local "safety net" organizations to offer free blood pressure and blood sugar checks at four local supermarkets.
As explained in a press release, the free screenings will be offered at the following locations:
Community and Public Health Administrator Jeff Martin says that one goal of the initiative is to help people get access to the right care for health and wellness problems. "Almost 80 percent of our calls are medical calls," Martin tells the Indy. "A lot of those calls are low-acuity... that really don't warrant a 911 response, but because people don't always have access to primary care, that's one of their only avenues."
The initiative aims to connect folks with organizations that will help them access primary care, and also includes on-site dietitians to recommend affordable dietary solutions, thereby nipping some chronic health issues in the bud. "We're trying to take a proactive approach to getting more people in our community connected to primary care," says Martin. "The truth of the matter is that if you're cycling in and out of the emergency room, you're not going to get the best care."
Partner organizations include Mission Medical, SET Family Medical Clinics, Open Bible Medical Clinic, Peak Vista Community Clinics and the Dream Center. Fire trucks will be stationed at the events — but will remain on-call, says Martin.
SET Family Medial Clinics also will be partnering with the CSFD for another series of free screenings, which will be offered at the CSFD Fire Station #8 (3737 Airport Road), every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon, beginning Aug. 7.
We just received this e-mail from Stephannie Finley, explaining how John Suthers' name got posted without his permission. When she says it was brought to their attention yesterday, that probably came from Suthers' communications director. We contacted her, raising the question of Suthers supporting an issue involving a lease he was reviewing as attorney general under the Hospital Transfer Act.
The mistake was made by the guy who constructed our web-site. We gave him a list of people we contacted who gave us permission to use their name; one column on the list showed the person we called — and in some instances that also included their spouse — and the other column showed who said “yes”. There were three instances where we were given permission to use a name, but not their spouses’ name, and the web-site guy pulled the names off the wrong column. It was brought to our attention late yesterday and was corrected immediately this morning. I apologize to John for the mistake, as well as the other two. Everybody on the web-site gave us express permission — either by signing a card or sending us an e-mail — to use their name.
—————————————-ORIGINAL POST WED., JULY 18, 3:04 P.M.——————————————
Colorado Attorney John Suthers is analyzing the lease of city-owned Memorial Health System to be sure it conforms to state law and satisfies the Hospital Transfer Act.
So it was a little shocking to see he was listed as a supporter on the website of the committee, called "Great City. Great Care,"which is promoting a "yes" vote on the measure.
We asked the AG's office about that. Here's the response we received from communications director Carolyn Tyler:
Mr. Suthers did not give permission for his name to be used as a supporter of the ballot measure. In fact, once you brought this to our attention, we had his name removed from Great City, Great Care Coalition’s website. Only his wife’s name remains.
As the Attorney General of Colorado, Mr. Suthers has the statutory responsibility to review the lease. There is no conflict of interest that would prevent him from performing that responsibility.
Which makes you wonder: Why would this committee simply list the attorney general's name as a supporter without checking first, and how many others were listed on the website without being asked?
We've submitted those questions to Great City. Great Care organizer Stephannie Finley, who used to work for the Chamber of Commerce here and now works at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
If and when we hear from her, we'll update.
The city is asking voters to weigh in on a 40-year lease of Memorial to the University of Colorado Health System. The election is August 28.
And speaking of the election, Mayor Steve Bach's spokeswoman Cindy Aubrey says the city needs to figure out a way for the folks who were burned out of their homes in Mountain Shadows to get ballots. The election will be conducted by mail, and it's illegal for mail ballots to be forwarded to another address.
We'll keep you posted when Aubrey comes up with a plan. Please note that the City Clerk's website still says nothing about how to register for the special election. Heck, it doesn't even mention there will be a special election. What's up with that?