Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) and the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) have finalized a joint operating agreement that creates a health system its leaders say will widen health care services and provide unparalleled patient care in the Rocky Mountain region.
Called University of Colorado Health, the new system combines one of the top-performing community health systems in the nation with the highest-ranked academic medical center in quality in the country. With annual net revenue of $1.5 billion, it will be one of the region’s largest locally-owned health systems and, with nearly 10,000 employees, one of Colorado’s largest employers.
“We’re excited about this partnership because it’s all about improving the quality of care for our patients,” said Rulon Stacey, president and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System. “Separately, we have provided extraordinary, safe, inventive and empathetic care for our patients. With our combined strength, we aim to raise the bar for quality in Colorado even higher as we learn from and share with each other.”
University of Colorado Hospital was named the top-performing academic hospital in quality in America last September by University HealthSystem Consortium and is currently ranked the No. 1 hospital in the metro Denver area by US News & World Report.
Poudre Valley Health System in January was named one of the top 15 health systems in the United States by Thomson Reuters and is a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for quality. PVHS and UCH are both three-time Magnet designation winners, the gold standard for nursing care.
The new system combines the best in academic medicine with the best in community medicine, said Bruce Schroffel, president and CEO of University of Colorado Hospital, adding that the new organization’s logo combines the University of Colorado name with the four intertwined hearts long associated with Poudre Valley Health System. Names of the organization's three existing hospitals - University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland - will not change.
“This agreement brings two of the finest health care organizations in the West together into a significant and novel partnership that we believe could be an example for other independent hospitals to follow,” said Schroffel. “While the future of health care could bring some challenges, University of Colorado Health will be stronger and better able to meet those challenges while still providing the highest quality care for patients.”
Schroffel added that the system may get larger over time, providing more Coloradans with even greater access to the most innovative medicine available.
“We’re already negotiating with the Colorado Springs City Council to allow us to lease and operate Memorial Health System there,” said Schroffel. “If we reach an agreement, we will have a system that stretches along the Front Range. Poudre Valley would be its northern hub, Memorial its southern hub, with the University of Colorado Hospital at its central geographic and academic core in the Denver metro area.”
UCH and PVHS have a proven track record of economic growth, adding more than 1,800 well-paying jobs over the past five years among their locations and bringing a strong benefit to the region’s economy.
“Collaboration and partnerships are often at the heart of successful endeavors,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said. “It’s even better when these kinds of efforts result in new jobs, improved infrastructure and better healthcare options for Coloradans. We want to congratulate Poudre Valley Health System and University of Colorado Hospital on their new joint operating agreement.”
University of Colorado Health would continue UCH’s historic role of providing advanced and complex care at the Anschutz Medical Campus headquarters and offering specialty and family care throughout the metropolitan area. Poudre Valley Health System has two acute care hospitals in Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, as well as a wide network of primary care and specialty clinics in northern Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska.
UCH will continue its close relationship with the University of Colorado School of Medicine – all its attending physicians are on the medical school’s faculty – and help extend the medical school’s research and residency programs through the new system to the entire region. In addition, UCH’s close collaboration with the other health sciences schools on the Anschutz Medical campus will continue.
“We expect to contribute not only to the University of Colorado’s academic programs, but also to expanding the accessibility, quality, cost-effectiveness, clinical outcomes and patient-responsiveness of care to communities throughout Colorado and the region,” said Stacey. “Patients in northern Colorado can look forward to greater access to clinical trials which are at the forefront of new medicine.”
The agreement, which has been approved by both existing systems and their partners, would establish a governing board of 11 directors and an executive team to guide the new organization.