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University of Colorado Hospital, PVHS to Merge

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 27, 2011

The University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System announced jointly on Friday that they have signed a letter of intent to pursue a merger agreement.

If finalized, the merger would align the community care focus of PVHS –with UCH's academic and clinical expertise, PVHS CEO Rulon Stacey said in a blog post.
"I strongly believe that a partnership between PVHS and UCH will be a huge step forward in the landscape of healthcare in our region," Stacey blogged. "It will create the state's largest health system that is owned and operated by a Colorado company. The reach of the new system will cover at least as far and wide as our two organizations' current service areas of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain and High Plains regions."

Both organizations said the proposed merger was motivated not by an effort to save money, but to "muscle up" in anticipation of health insurance reform. "Nobody really knows yet what reform will look like," UCH President/CEO Bruce Schroffel said in a media release. "But we do know this: There will be less money in the system, and we will have to learn to do more with less."

Friday's announcement was the culmination of seven months of talks between Schroffel, Stacey, and their respective boards. A letter of intent was signed on Wednesday. The two organizations said they anticipate several months of negotiations, auditing, and planning before a joint operating agreement can be finalized, hopefully this fall.

"We have been going through many changes in recent times," Schroffel said in a message to UCH staff and physicians. "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."

Fort Collins, CO-based PVHS includes Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, which itself is a partnership with Regional West Health Services in Scottsbluff, NE. PVHS provides care across a 50,000-square-mile area in northern Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.
Denver-based UCH is the region's only academic hospital, and includes the 400-bed Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion. Although their names are similar, UCH is a separate entity, legally and financially, from the University of Colorado, and the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.