Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama bin Laden and Memorial? Huh?

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 6:00 PM

OK. Call me crazy, but I don't see the connection between the assassination of Osama bin Laden and city-owned Memorial Health System.

In fact, linking the two is in rather bad taste, don't ya think?

But Memorial PR guy Brian Newsome made exactly that tie in one of his strange "The Future of Health Care" blogs that he uses to constantly remind people that Memorial needs to escape city oversight in order to be successful.

  • Newsome

He once wrote a blog about his drive back from Michigan, Wisconsin or one of those northern states. Other times he's used an elephant and even Kitchi the missing otter who escaped from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in fabricating some kind of link to Memorial's need to be an independent nonprofit.

But citing a terrorist leader really is over the top, it seems to me.

Newsome, a former Gazette reporter who covered Memorial before being hired there, perhaps is just following the time-worn mantra that, as they say in the biz, there's no such thing as bad publicity. The idea is to keep your product, service or celebrity, or in this case your employer, on the tips of people's tongues at all times.

So, even connecting the most evil tyrant in the world to Memorial's message isn't too low to stoop. And guess what, it works, because we're going to reproduce the blog here:

Like any big news event, Sunday night’s late-breaking announcement about Osama bin Laden’s death overshadowed other news stories that would have been “the big story” for those communities on any other day. It’s just the nature of news. What’s important one minute may be no big deal the next.


At the local level, important information about Memorial has been similarly overshadowed by bigger stories this year (a historic mayoral and City Council race and an assortment of budget crises, to a name a couple). Sitting quietly in the background is a list of protections and conditions created in the event that voters turn Memorial into a community-based nonprofit.

This list, created by current and former members of City Council and members of Memorial’s board, is the legally binding commitment that ensures Memorial remains successful, committed and transparent if it converts from city ownership to an independent, nonprofit organization. The list is a bit difficult to wade through, so here is the takeaway:

Preservation of Memorial’s Present-Day Commitments. Charity care. Community partnerships. Reinvesting all earnings into patients. Our mission and our headquarters. All of these must remain, and remain at levels equal to or greater than today.

Safeguard against a future sale. If Memorial becomes a community-based nonprofit, the “sell Memorial” conversation is expected to finally end. However, if talk of a sale were to one day come up again, there is a requirement that any future acquisition or merger must go back to City Council and voters for approval.

Accountability. Each year Memorial would hold a public meeting to report to the community, and even more frequently it will report certain quality, financial and other benchmark data.

Protection of employees and benefits. Employees will be moved over into the new organization with the same titles, responsibilities, pay and “substantially similar” benefits. The words “substantially similar” are used in part because law would not allow employees to remain in PERA, so a comparable, alternate retirement plan would be offered.

Financial contributions. Upon becoming a community-based nonprofit, Memorial would contribute $5 million to create a new foundation with a mission to support health and wellness in Colorado Springs. Each year after that, Memorial would provide at least $1 million each year to the foundation, with additional money based on its profitability. This financial commitment to the community comes on top of Memorial’s present-day contributions and uncompensated care, which accounts for more than $70 million a year.

Debt and liabilities. Under the agreement, Memorial assumes all past, present and future liabilities, freeing the city of all obligations.

It’s worth noting that this proposal, recommended by the Memorial Citizens’ Commission and the former City Council, has not been referred to the ballot. But, given the importance of such a change for this community, it doesn’t hurt to learn what you can now.

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