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After a gunman opened fire in an Aurora movie theater last month, 23 of the 58 injured were rushed to one of America's top health care facilities — University of Colorado Hospital. As of press time, all but four had been discharged.

It's a reminder that dedicated professionals in our midst face life-and-death situations for a living.

For three years, our own hospital heroes have answered the call, 24/7/365, as the community's debated the future of their employer and added more uncertainty to an uncertain world. Today, those folks at city-owned Memorial Health System find themselves in position to become affiliated with CU's prestigious hospital — if voters approve a lease proposal with University of Colorado Health in an Aug. 28 special election.

It's a decision of a lifetime, and the city could do a lot worse. If it's time to let go of a hospital owned by us, the citizens, it's hard to imagine a better partner than University with whom to entrust our own life-and-death situations.

But before we mark our ballots, we should be aware of exactly what our votes mean. So starting here, we offer a look at some of those implications.

Without question, Memorial would join a premier health care group with muscle and stamina, and get a chance to thrive in the ever-evolving sphere of health care. But we'll sacrifice local control of "our hospital" in the process. And that's something not to be taken lightly.

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