|Artemis Woman, Mary Lou Makepeace,|
when she was still a married heterosexual.
Indeed, history repeats itself, only the names and faces have changed.
Here's a back in the day example of a Memorial Hospital task force's recommendations, and the weight they carried with the very person who formed the task force: Mary Lou Makepeace...then-mayor, now director of the Gay and Lesbian Fund, as well as the Gill Foundation Head Honcho.
Also on council at the time was Richard Skorman.
Makepeace, as you'll recall, was also at the helm when the Egyptian temple of worship at America the Beautiful Park was conceived (another project opposed by Councilman Eastburn)...but I'll have to save that story for later.
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Springs advised to keep Memorial
by Pam Zubeck
The decade-old question about whether to sell city-owned Memorial Hospital - the hottest issue in the 1999 mayoral race - has been settled ... for now.
An eight-member commission appointed by Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace has recommended keeping Memorial - the most profitable hospital in the state in recent years.
The hospital's board of trustees and the Colorado Springs City Council now are expected to sign off on the recommendation, which will formalize a new working agreement.
"It certainly lays it to rest as a current question," said board Chairman Harlan Loomas.
The commission's recommendation, Makepeace said, means Memorial is not for sale "for this council, for this board and for this administration."
For 10 years, Springs leaders have debated whether to sell Memorial, which the city bought in 1943 for $76,500 and now is valued at as much as $500 million.
The debate heated up in spring 1999 when car dealer Will Perkins - running for mayor against Makepeace - advocated selling the 467-bed hospital to finance a $600 million backlog in civic improvement projects rather than raising taxes.
Makepeace said Thursday her commission decided to stick with city ownership, because "it's better for the citizens of Colorado Springs" because of $16.5 million in indigent care the hospital provided last year alone.
The commission, however, left unresolved the question of its previous mandate: Treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay, without a taxpayer subsidy.
So Makepeace has asked the hospital board to propose alternatives within the next three months.
Makepeace isn't suggesting Memorial close its doors to the poor. Rather, she wants the hospital to find ways to divert indigent patients with low-level medical needs to other care outlets, like Community Health Centers.
Memorial's emergency room - where care is the most expensive to deliver - is inundated and getting more crowded every year.
It saw 89,600 patients last year. In January, 287 patients were treated per day, a 24.5 percent increase over a year ago. Yet, only one-fifth are cases involving bona fide life-threatening problems, Loomas said.
Makepeace doesn't want Memorial to find itself in the same predicament as University Hospital in Denver, which recently said it could no longer afford to treat all indigent patients. Rising health costs and dwindling government payments have forced University Hospital to give priority to the sickest patients.
Makepeace worries the Springs may become a magnet for poor residents statewide who may come here simply because of Memorial's "all-comers" policy.
"I don't think we should be providing all this non-emergency care in the emergency room," Makepeace said.
"It forces us to look at what our other approaches are," she added. "These are the kinds of things that, if you don't examine them, will overwhelm you."
Memorial has been the focus of heated community debate in recent years for several reasons.
Conflict developed between the council and hospital board as Memorial's profits grew - peaking at $27.3 million in 1997 - and its cash reserve reached $100 million.
Some council members called for using the hospital's reserves for other city needs or requiring a payment in lieu of taxes.
Also, the council and board were at odds over management issues, such as an employee bonus plan that saw former Executive Director Robert Peters receive nearly $50,000 in bonus pay one year.
Also, residents were angered by Memorial's desire to expand into the historic Boulder Park neighborhood.
If you go
The Colorado Springs City Council and the Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees must both ratify the new ownership and operation agreement.
When: 7:15 a.m. today at conference rooms A & B, lower level, Memorial Hospital, 1400 E. Boulder St.
COLORADO SPRINGS CITY COUNCIL INFORMAL MEETING
When: 1 p.m. Monday at Council Chambers, 30 W. Nevada Ave.
Key points in a pact between the city and the hospital
- Key points in a pact between the Colorado Springs City Council and the Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees:
- City retains ownership, ensuring local residents' needs are met.
- Council appoints board members who have specific expertise, such as financial and health-care knowledge.
- Council provides oversight through board reports and joint meetings.
- Memorial makes financial payments to the city only after specific financial goals are met to ensure the hospital retains its financial strength, including its ability to sell bonds for expansion projects.
- Memorial's financial adviser warned cash diversions "would likely prevent a future credit rating upgrade," important because ratings determine interest rates.
- The council has agreed to use the money for "health outreach programs," not roads and bridges.
- The agreement doesn't affect a previous agreement for Memorial to give the city $400,000 annually to fund mental health services, youth programs and the like. This is the third year for the donation.
- Formation of a nonprofit foundation to solicit donations for Memorial and other community health care needs.
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Memorial formalizes city pact/ Hospital agrees with most of deal
by Bill Radford
Memorial Hospital's Board of Trustees acted Friday to formalize a new working agreement with the Colorado Springs City Council by approving a memo of understanding between the two entities.
The agreement, which must also be approved by the council, incorporates the recommendations of an eight-member ownership and governance committee appointed by Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.
Chief among those recommendations is that the city maintain ownership of the hospital. "Local ownership and control remain a benefit to the community," the memorandum concludes. Springs leaders have debated for years whether to sell Memorial, which is valued at as much as $500 million.
Other key points of the agreement, which defines the hospital's responsibilities to City Council and the community, include criteria for the council's appointment of new board members and creation of a philanthropic foundation.
"I think it is a terrific accomplishment," said Harlan Loomas, chairman of the hospital board and co-chair of the ownership and governance committee. "I don't see how we could have gotten a better result than this."
Only one provision, concerning the hospital's obligation for a financial return to the city, stirred debate. That return can be accomplished in various ways, including the providing of indigent care. The council also could direct Memorial to set aside funds that would go to the city for health-related programs if specific financial goals are met. The memorandum states that the hospital needs all existing reserves.
"It's a very, very tough test to meet before any money comes out of the hospital," said City Councilman Lionel Rivera, attending his last meeting as a member of the hospital board.
He and others, though, expressed concern about a provision in the agreement calling on the council to review the hospital's progress from time to time to determine if funds should be set aside. They questioned what would constitute "sufficient progress" and worried that the provision undercut the linking of payments and financial standards.
While approving the agreement, the board suggested changes in wording, tying the possible payments to significant financial progress on the part of the hospital and making it clearer that any money would go to health-related needs.
The City Council is expected to consider the agreement at its informal meeting Monday.