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UCH, Poudre Valley Announce an Intent to Link Arms

A big – and much-decorated – new network of care

Two historically independent hospitals have told the region’s patients that they hope to become partners in the near future.

The boards of directors of both University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) have signed a non-binding letter of intent – meaning a final deal is not inevitable – to form what would be one of the largest hospital systems in the state.

Complementary approaches to health care

More significantly, it would also be the only system trying to tie together two different approaches to patient care: the community care focus of Poudre Valley and the academic medicine of UCH and its partner at the CU School of Medicine.

“We’re joining two of the state’s most renowned health care organizations – both of which have won numerous national and international recognitions – into what we think will be a fantastic benefit for patients," said UCH President and CEO Bruce Schroffel.

PVHS CEO Rulon Stacey

PVHS CEO Rulon Stacey (center) sees an opportunity to pool
and share resources.

“It will facilitate the sharing of the considerable medical expertise, specialties and resources of our respective organizations,” agreed PVHS CEO Rulon Stacey. “It is indeed an historic day for health care in Colorado.” 

Stacey foresaw “opportunities for patients, communities, staff and physicians at two top-performing health systems, both Colorado born and bred.”

Anticipating health insurance reform

Both organizations started talking not to save money – both are exceedingly strong financially, with high marks from bond-ratings agencies and healthy operating margins – or to merge staffs, but to muscle up in anticipation of health insurance reform.

“Nobody really knows yet what reform will look like,” Schroffel said, “but we do know this: there will be less money in the system, and we will have to learn to do more with less.”

UCH and PVHS

Meet the Happy Couple

Poudre Valley Health System is made up of two acute-care hospitals (Poudre Valley in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, which itself is a partnership with Regional West Health Services in Scottsbluff, Nebraska) and a network that provides care across a 50,000-square-mile area that encompasses northern Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Like UCH, it has accumulated a raft of national recognitions and awards and has achieved the rare distinction of earning Magnet nursing designations three consecutive times. It has, moreover, won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Many hospitals (including UCH and Children’s Colorado on the Anschutz campus) are expanding their home facilities. The trend has been national, too, and a number of other consolidation deals in the Rocky Mountain region have been proposed.

“Everybody,” Schroffel has noted, “has been talking to everybody.”

A shared vision, but work remains

Poudre Valley and UCH first began discussing ways to collaborate seven months ago.

After many formal and informal exchanges Schroffel, Stacey and their respective boards of directors hammered out a “letter of intent” that was ultimately signed June 22.

While both hospitals know what they would like a partnership to look like, months of auditing, planning and detailed work remain before a joint operating agreement could be shaped and finalized. The parties hope to reach some sort of conclusion in the fall.

University of Colorado Hospital

University of Colorado Hospital

Poudre Valley Hospital

Poudre Valley Hospital

Medical Center of the Rockies

Medical Center of the Rockies

“We have been going through many changes in recent times,” Schroffel noted in a message to staff and physicians Thursday morning. “Now, too, we may soon lock arms with literally one of the finest community hospital systems in the country. You work at a place where all things are possible. I ask you to join me in imagining still more possibilities for our patients, our partners and ourselves.”

UCH Insider

This page is adapted from a story that appeared in the UCH Insider, the hospital's candid e-newsletter.

The Insider, which is published biweekly, is available to people outside the hospital via a free e-mail subscription.

Tyler Smith (tyler.smith@uch.edu) is managing editor of the Insider.