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Employee frequently asked questions

Questions and answers for PVHS staff regarding a Poudre Valley Health System-University of Colorado Hospital partnership

Got questions?

Email your questions to questions@pvhs.org. This email address is posted on VIC's news page, too.

Employee town hall meetings will be held June 24. Please check VIC's news page for the schedule.

Poudre Valley Health System and the University of Colorado Hospital have signed a joint operating agreement that creates a new organization called University of Colorado Health.

University of Colorado Health combines two of the state's most renowned hospitals with the educational, scientific and clinical renown of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

It will provide links for patients to two top-performing health systems, both Colorado born and bred, and the sharing of the considerable medical expertise, specialties, resources and reach of both University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System.

Question: Why now?
Answer: The organizations began exploring a closer relationship partly in anticipation of changes and challenges of healthcare reform. While these changes currently remain largely undefined, it is clear that healthcare organizations across the country will be doing more with less in the future.

There are great advantages in bringing institutions that enjoy notable clinical and financial strength together in a time of uncertain reform.

A partnership between PVHS and UCH is truly a union of equals. This partnership combines the clinical and financial strengths of each institution to ensure the continued delivery of unparalleled quality care in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.

Q: Why PVHS and UCH?
A: Much of the consolidation now sweeping the American healthcare industry has been driven by the financial or clinical weakness of one of the partners. However, PVHS and UCH are two very strong institutions.

Both have deep roots in the community that, when linked, will create a system that will be greater than the sum of its parts. These strong community ties will only be strengthened by connecting two local organizations with similarly high standards of quality and distinct areas of service within the region.

Separately, these institutions could continue providing superior care to patients and service to the communities they serve. Together, they will push the boundaries of medicine further, attracting more research funding and hosting more clinical trials.

Both organizations:

  • are in enviable financial condition, and are highly evaluated by national credit rating agencies.
  • have each been designated as Magnet institutions by the American Nursing Credentialing Center three consecutive times-a designation only 31 hospitals worldwide have achieved.
  • have been repeatedly ranked among the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, other ratings services and health care organizations that closely examine their many medical specialties.
  • boast multiple Nightingale Award winners for excellence in nursing care.
  • have medical outcomes above state averages in many areas.
  • have long been deeply involved in implementing Institute for Healthcare Improvement, patient safety and clinical quality initiatives.

What's happening in Colorado?

Healthcare services have become increasingly dominated by a small number of larger health systems.

The capital and infrastructure needed for an organization to remain competitive require significant financial and human resources that stand-alone hospitals and health systems may be unable to provide.

Federal healthcare reform and other market changes will make it increasingly more critical for hospitals and health systems to work more closely together.

Information technologies needed to provide state-of-the-art care have become so complex that only large systems can afford to procure and continually upgrade them.

Colorado's changing population patterns-particularly in the geographic areas served by PVHS and UCH-would better benefit from a unified health system.

Many more opportunities exist for a larger system in such areas as cancer care, cardiac services and neurological services.

Q: What will be gained?
A: The benefits of a closer relationship between these two organizations are numerous, and include:

  • the combining of academic-based and community-focused medicine, bringing innovative and leading-edge care to patients throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
  • being able to call on the collaborative care of the deepest bench of medical specialists in the region, especially in quickly advancing areas such as oncology, cardiovascular surgery, the neurosciences and the biosciences.
  • top-quality training sites for the next generation of health care professionals eager to meet the needs of diverse populations from the Front Range to rural areas across the Eastern Plains.
  • more opportunities for people in underserved and non-urban areas to get family and complex care.

Q: What does this new system look like?
A: University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System will retain their own, separate boards of directors. Each organization retains its assets.

A new, central board of 11 directors has been formed to make system-wide strategic and capital decisions. However, each hospital will control operations at its respective facility. No significant changes in leadership or staffing are expected in the short term.

Q: Does this mean that PVHS will be bought out by UCH?
A: No. This is not a purchase of one organization of the other; no money will exchange hands. This is not a merger. The joint operating agreement calls for PVHS and UCH to affiliate with each other. Neither organization will be subservient to the other.

Q: Since the mid-1990s, PVHS has made a point of telling the public that it will remain an independent, locally controlled organization. The driving belief has been that local people can best make the decisions for what is needed in terms of local health care. How will the new arrangement impact this?
A: The needs of local patients will continue to take the highest priority. The new joint operating company has a board of directors that will make strategic and budgetary decisions based on the needs of the local communities for PVHS and UCH. The PVHS Board of Directors will remain in place to champion local needs. Revenue above expenses will be funneled back into the new company and used to support local needs.

Q: Is there a possibility that other hospitals or healthcare organizations in Colorado will become part of the company?
A: Yes. Colorado Springs voters will wrap up an election Aug. 28 to decide whether the city should lease Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health. Mail-in voting began Aug. 8. To the north, Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie entered into negotiations July 16 with University of Colorado Health over a management agreement that would bring the 99-bed hospital into the system’s expanding sphere.

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Q: Will our patients have to drive to Denver for care?
A: PVHS patients would remain in northern Colorado, unless, of course, there are treatments at UCH or healthcare facilities elsewhere that would better benefit a patient. This is also how patient care matters are currently handled.

Q: What will this new arrangement mean for me as an employee of PVHS?
A: It will be business as usual for you. We cannot guarantee, of course, that changes may not occur in the future; this has always been the case at PVHS. We anticipate that the joint operating company will strengthen both PVHS and UCH, resulting in increases in patient volume, which over time will necessitate hiring additional personnel.

Q: What would this new arrangement mean for me as a physician who is employed by Coloado Health Medical Group?
A: It will be business as usual for you. We cannot guarantee, of course, that changes may not occur in the future; this has always been the case at PVHS. We anticipate that the joint operating company will strengthen both PVHS and UCH, resulting in increases in patient volume, which over time will necessitate hiring additional personnel.

Q: The physician clinic where I work was purchased during the last year by PVHS. When that happened, I was told that I would be working for PVHS. Now who would I work for?
A: Like other PVHS staff members, your official employer would be the new joint operating company.

Q: Would my pay, FlexibleFit benefits and such perks as the Optional Performance Plan change?
A: The answer is that they will remain the same for now. As has always been the case, we are unable to promise that changes will never be made to anything. We'd like for you to remember that employee satisfaction has traditionally been at the forefront of the PVHS operating philosophy. One of our six strategic goals focuses on employees ("attract, engage, develop and retain a quality PVHS team, continuously improving the culture") and we expect this to continue.

Q: What will the new arrangement mean for electronic health records?
A: In Colorado and throughout the nation, information technologies needed to provide state-of-the-art care have become so complex that only large systems can afford to procure and continually upgrade them. We anticipate that the union of PVHS and UCH will result in a greater emphasis in providing the latest technology for electronic health records. As a result of the partnership, Poudre Valley Health System will move to Epic, one of the industry's best electronic health records. UCH recently moved to Epic, and adding PVHS under that umbrella resulted in considerable cost savings.

Q: Will PVHS continue to purchase private physician practices and enter into joint ventures?
A: Such strategic decisions would be made by the board of directors for the new joint operating company.

Q: What will happen to PVHS projects that are now underway?
A: Projects now underway will continue. This includes renovation on the third floor of Poudre Valley Hospital. Projects proposed for the future will be analyzed for their need and availability of funding-the same process that we always go through with any proposed project.

Q: Will the research and clinical trials conducted at PVHS continue?
A: Yes, and these efforts would likely be expanded. In collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, a plan would be established to conduct more research programs and clinical trials PVHS facilities.

Q: What will the new arrangement mean for capital purchases of medical and other equipment?
A: Such decisions involving budgetary matters would be determined by the joint operating company's board of directors. As we do now, decisions would be based on need and availability of funding.

Q: How will this new arrangement impact the health insurance of our patients?
A: The level and extent of their healthcare coverage will continue to be determined between them and their health insurance companies.

Q: Will this new arrangement drive up the cost of health care?
A: No. Please remember that the expense of health care is typically driven by equipment costs and other factors that often are out of the control of a healthcare organization.

Q: Where would PVHS profits go?
A: The new joint operating company would be a nonprofit organization (PVHS and UCH are each nonprofits now). Just an FYI: In the world of nonprofit organizations, the term "profit" isn't correct since a nonprofit organization cannot legally make a profit. The correct term is "revenue above expenses." Any revenue above expenses made through the new company would be funneled back into the organization. The new company would not have shareholders who would stand to make a profit.

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University of Colorado Health employees dedicate themselves to providing patients and other customers with world-class care and service. Outside organizations recognize that, calling University of Colorado Health's hospitals some of the best in Colorado and even the best in the nation. Some of those accolades are listed below:

 




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PVHS@pvhs.org

 

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