Cheyenne Regional Medical Center’s (CRMC) nine-member Board of Trustees voted Thursday afternoon to advise the Laramie County Board of Commissioners that the health system plans to begin negotiating a management services agreement with UCHealth, a Colorado-owned and operated, nonprofit 501©(3) integrated health system.
The vote to move forward with negotiations with UCHealth was unanimous and was made in open session at the trustees’ regular meeting on August 24.
The trustees came to their decision after a nearly year-long strategic planning and assessment process that included analysis of the hospital’s overall capabilities by an outside healthcare consulting firm and input from nearly 500 CRMC employees, medical providers and community members in several community forums and surveys.
In January 2017 CRMC announced its decision to release a request for proposal seeking a management services agreement – a partnership model that retains local decision-making and ownership of the hospital by the county.
“This is not a sale or a merger of the hospital,” said Bill Larson, president of CRMC’s Board of Trustees. “Our system has strong and capable leadership, which is demonstrated by the significant progress the hospital and its affiliated provider group have made over the past six years. Our decision to go in this direction was driven by our desire to continue to provide a compelling value proposition to consumers and payers by improving our cost structure and expanding our physician network.”
A 25-member multi-stakeholder strategic planning assessment committee (SPAC), consisting of representatives from the Laramie County Board of Commissioners and CRMC’s Board of Trustees, physician community, employees and executive leadership, was formed to provide oversight of the search process. This included reviewing all proposals and oral presentations and conducting site visits to hospitals of the three finalists: UCHealth, Centura and HCA/HealthONE. The SPAC advanced their consensus recommendation to develop a management services agreement with UCHealth at the August 24 board meeting.
“All three finalists were judged to be excellent partners to support CRMC’s goal to be better than the best in safety, quality and patient experience,” said Phyllis Sherard, CRMC’s chief strategy officer and the SPAC’s spokesperson.
“The three finalists also demonstrated they would honor our 150-year-old health system’s desire to remain independent and committed to community benefit,” Sherard said. “In the end, the SPAC believed UCHealth emerged from the deliberation as the unsurpassed partner to help us deliver a well-coordinated and well-communicated continuum of care, close to home, for the communities we serve.”
Patrick Madigan, CRMC’s interim chief executive officer, said that the decision to affiliate with UCHealth came down to what would be best for CRMC’s patients, employees and providers and for the community as a whole.
“The decision to move forward with UCHealth was made after many months of careful analysis and input and thoughtful deliberation,” Madigan said. “We will continue to do our due diligence and will work side by side with the county commissioners and all of our stakeholders as we proceed.”
The search process included review and input from Laramie County Commissioners Buck Holmes and Troy Thompson.
“The past year’s deliberative and inclusive search process was well-designed,” Holmes said. “The process shows that the hospital’s strengths are its employees, administration, physicians and clinical staff and also its ability to provide strong leadership in healthcare delivery.”
The next step is to begin negotiations with UCHealth.
“The process of defining terms and drafting the management services agreement will be a lengthy one and is expected to conclude in October or November, with execution of the agreement before the end of the year,” Sherard said.
“UCHealth is honored to work with Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and to continue discussions toward a management services agreement,” said Kevin Unger, president and chief executive officer of UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies. “CRMC is known for improving the health of individuals and the quality of life in their community. I believe that by working together, CRMC and UCHealth can further expand this positive impact.”