Exempla Healthcare, Denver, whose governance structure has been the subject of two years of internecine litigation, has taken steps this week that could avoid another round of lawsuits and settle lingering operational questions for the three-hospital system.
Under the new arrangement ratified by the Exempla board of directors, the not-for-profit system will maintain its current two sponsors—Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, Lenexa, Kan., and secular Community First Foundation, Arvada, Colo. Both organizations will have five seats on the 10-member Exempla board, but the Sisters of Charity will assume operational control over the system, and Catholic ethical and religious directives will be in effect at all three hospitals.
With that level of control, the Sisters of Charity will be allowed by Catholic ethical rules to make needed capital investments in the system. Previously, the religious system was prohibited by the Denver Archdiocese from taking seats on the Exempla board, because two system hospitals performed a small number of “intrinsically evil” services such as abortions, contraception and removal of feeding tubes for patients in vegetative states.