An article in Sunday’s Boomerang stated that Ivinson Memorial Hospital was seeking to convert itself into a 501(c)(3) “nonprofit” corporation. As the founder of several nonprofits, I am familiar with the law regarding them and believe that our community should be very concerned about this. A 501(c) nonprofit is not required to open its books to the public — nor to reveal its full tax return.
(In particular, due to a flaw in the Tax Code, the critical section of IRS Form 990 which describes where it gets its income can — and too often does — remain secret. As a result, 501(c) nonprofits are frequently used to launder political “dark money.”) Our elected Hospital Board would be reduced to a mere “shadow board” that could do no more than rubber stamp decisions, while a new board of directors — unelected, opaque, and unaccountable to the public — would actually run the hospital.
It is a well known principle of organizational behavior that organizations — including, and perhaps especially, those which are supposed to have a “public service” mission — quickly become institutionally greedy and attempt to free themselves from their original charters. They become self-serving, operating for the benefit of their employees, board members, and/or donors rather than acting in the public interest.
IMH has already shown signs of growing merely for the sake of expanding its empire, of overcharging patients and engaging in questionable billing practices to fund its own interests, and of being more accountable to the University of Colorado health care network than to our local community. This move would likely make matters worse. We should all ask our County Commissioners not to allow our one nearby hospital — to which we have no choice but to be taken in times of urgent need — to suffer this fate.