Voters in Colorado Springs approved the Memorial Hospital lease proposal by a landslide margin Tuesday night, with 83 percent marking yes on their mail-in ballots.
With all of the ballots counted, here are the results:
60,705 for Yes
12,568 for No
"It was a well-thought-through and presented proposal that we took to the voters," said Mayor Steve Bach. "Secondly, I believe people trusted us to make a good decision here, and I'm thankful for that, and we're going to make sure we live up to that trust."
Measure 1A on the ballot asked voters to approve a plan to make Memorial Hospital a partner with University of Colorado Health under a 40-year lease.
Under the proposed deal, the city of Colorado Springs will get $259 million dollars in up-front lease payments. A large portion of that will go to the Public Employees' Retirement Association, PERA, so that the city can reach a buy-out settlement on Memorial Health pensions.
The city will receive another $5.6 million each year over the course of the 40-year lease.
There is an option to add to the lease as time goes by, effectively making it a “rolling” contract.
The hospital will be operated by UC Health, the medical arm of the University of Colorado. The deal also calls for the creation of a medical school at UCCS.
Roughly 4,000 current employees at Memorial Hospital have been guaranteed job security for the first six months of the deal. Afterwards, there would be no promises, but leaders for UC Health say they anticipate adding services over time; hiring rather than firing.
"I believe it will result in lower costs," Bruce Schroffel, the CEO of UCH, said of the lease. "First of all, we have a large system now of 15,000 employees, $2.2 billion. That gives us an opportunity to really save money."
The official changeover is effective October 1, but signs touting the new "Memorial Hospital, University of Colorado Health" began going up late Tuesday night.
"I don't believe there's anything left undone, " said Councilwoman Jan Martin. "I think we worked hard on the lease to be sure that all of our concerns were addressed."
The city had operated Memorial Hospital for 70 years since acquiring it in 1943. Tuesday's vote effectively ended a three-year debate on whether the city should continue to run the hospital.