President Bruce Benson's newsletter
Dear Alumni and Friends,
I am often asked, "What is UC Health and how is it connected to University of Colorado Hospital and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus?"
The confusion is understandable, given the varied entities and similar (or the same) names. But CU physicians and researchers are the common denominator in the relationships, and they are the engine driving successful health care in our state and beyond. Some history may help.
In the early 1990s, in an effort to free the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) from the state's bureaucratic and burdensome regulation, the Colorado legislature created the University of Colorado Hospital Authority. It is a public nonprofit mostly separate from the university, with some key connections: the legislation retained the University of Colorado name and the requirement that the CU Board of Regents appoint the 11-member governing board (no more than four of whom can be CU employees). As CU president, I recommend them to the regents to appoint and I also appoint the chair of the board. Additionally, every physician who practices at the hospital is on faculty at the CU School of Medicine.
In 2012, University of Colorado Health was established. It is a network that initially combined UCHA and Poudre Valley Health System (northern Colorado's major provider) through a joint operating agreement. The growing consolidation nationally of health care networks for efficiency purposes drove the decision, but it also benefits our physicians, researchers and students through more opportunities.
The CU Board of Regents and I appoint six members of the 11-member University of Colorado Health board. Four more are appointed from the existing board, with the last spot going to the CEO of University of Colorado Health. So the university has close ties to that board.
University of Colorado Health has expanded to seven hospitals and many clinics and stand-alone emergency rooms, and it plans to expand further. Additionally, we have strong ties with Children's Hospital Colorado, where many physicians are also CU faculty members, as well as the VA Hospital and Denver Health, where CU physicians also practice. Innovations are incubated at the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, which operates a biosciences park at CU Anschutz. I sit on that board, as do others from CU and Children's Hospital.
All these entities have strong ties and are joined at the hip, with CU physicians and researchers providing the connective tissue. UCH and Children's Hospital Colorado also make significant financial contributions to the CU School of Medicine to support its operations.
The bottom line is that CU is the engine that drives the campus, and the work of our physicians, researchers, faculty and staff extends far beyond the mile-square "City of Health" in Aurora. CU physicians and researchers are making substantial medical advances that emerge from our research labs and then spread to hospitals on campus and beyond.
Further, all of our four campuses are involved in health care. Biosciences researchers from CU-Boulder collaborate with colleagues from CU Anschutz on innovative treatments and engineering. CU Denver has a pipeline program that funnels students to the School of Medicine. It also leads efforts at the Colorado School of Public Health. The School of Medicine this year opened a branch on our Colorado Springs campus, where medical students learn and will do clinical work at Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of University of Colorado Health. Additionally, CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus are administratively consolidated, sharing functions such as budgeting, HR and the provost's operation, among others.
At its core, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus does what we have done for over a century: prepares the next generation of health care workers, conducts cutting-edge research and provides first-class clinical care. The schools at CU Anschutz – Medicine, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, Nursing, the Graduate School and the Colorado School of Public Health – all contribute to CU meeting health care needs. Additionally, CU Anschutz is one of few places where research, teaching and clinical care happen on one site and benefit from collaborations driven by proximity.
There is plenty of innovation at CU Anschutz in areas where we have signature strengths, including cancer research and treatment, cardiology and vascular medicine, transplants, pulmonology, orthopedics, Alzheimer's research and treatment, and diabetes and endocrinology, to name a few. The Denver Business Journal recently published a special section that nicely detailed the activities and impact of the campus.
Despite the complicated interrelationships, there is one bottom line: we retain the excellence that has always been the hallmark of CU's work in health care. CU's physicians, faculty, researchers and staff are at the heart of that excellence and are a catalyst for spreading innovation and high-quality clinical care to our partner hospitals and ultimately, to patients.
The CU Anschutz Medical Campus is like the hub of a wheel, with spokes going out to touch countless lives in hospitals, clinics and communities near and far.
Physicians from the CU Cancer Center travel to distant and rural parts of the state to treat patients in their communities. They also partner with local communities by treating patients at more than 400 CU-affiliated clinics around Colorado. Other CU physicians regularly visit rural communities that often don't have access to medical specialties.
The CU Anschutz Medical Campus is elevating health care in the Rocky Mountain West and beyond. It is one of the nation's leading academic medical centers. And the engine behind that success is the physicians, researchers, faculty and staff of the University of Colorado.
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