patrick-faricy

Patrick Faricy’s life could have gone in many directions. The Pueblo native was born into a car family — his brothers, father and mother have worked in the industry. Faricy’s sister carved her own path as a teacher and Patrick, who thought he’d one day be a priest, went to seminary school before deciding on a lifelong career in medicine. The chief medical officer at Memorial Health System, Faricy is retiring this week, and he spoke with the Business Journal about his passion to make people well.

How did you end up in Colorado Springs?

I was born in Pueblo and my parents were natives to Colorado. My dad was from Florence and my mom was from Pueblo. My family is in the auto business and we moved to Colorado Springs in 1955 where they opened a second business. I went to school at St. Mary’s High School and then the University of Colorado. I went to CU’s medical school and did my post-graduate training there too. I’m a urologist by training.

Did you start a practice here right away?

Actually, I was drafted but was able to finish my training before I went into the military. I had a two-year stint at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. That was a little bit different from Colorado Springs. My wife and I had never lived outside of Colorado. It was a bit of a shock, but a really wonderful experience.

After that, I joined my best friend who was a urologist in Sheridan, Wyo. We practiced together for three years. Our daughter was born in Wyoming and she had some medical problems, so we needed to be close to Denver. You could fly from Paris to Denver for less money than you could fly from Sheridan to Denver. We needed to be back here on a monthly basis so we decided to move back to Colorado Springs. … I took this job as chief medical officer five years ago.

What does a chief medical officer do?

You want to be the go-between for the medical staff and the administration. That’s a big part of the job. But more so, you’re really the champion of patient quality and patient safety in the hospital. This job has widened my lens and I’ve had to be exposed to many more fields of medicine.

You talk about the business of medicine. What do you say to those who don’t think profit should be part of medicine?

Whether there should or shouldn’t, when you go into private practice, you have to run a practice. As physicians, we’re often ill prepared to do that. The focus is on patient care. I was fortunate that both my mom and dad were in business together and my mom was really disciplined in running an office.

You weren’t always thinking about going into medicine, and your family isn’t in medicine. Why you?

I’ve had a strange background. My family is all in the automobile business. That certainly appealed to me. When I first started in college, I thought I would be a Catholic priest. After a couple years, I decided that probably wasn’t the path for me. There were a lot of reasons, but I just didn’t know how useful I’d be. There were gaps in how I could serve others. I have to give credit to my dad. I remember we had a long talk sitting on his car. He said ‘What do you want to do?’ and I said I think I was going to leave this particular pursuit and go into medicine. He said I ought to do it.

Where in the health system’s leasing to UCHealth did you come in?

When I came here to work as chief medical officer in February 2011, we were city owned. Then in late 2011 there was turmoil about who should own and run the hospital.

I was involved in the hearings in front of City Council and, in early 2012, the lease was awarded to UCHealth and a vote was taken that summer. The voters of Colorado Springs overwhelmingly supported UCHealth taking over that lease. In October 2012, that came to fruition. From February 2011 to now there have been three CEOs and four boards of directors, so I’m the longest-tenured person here.

How did the lease affect your job?

I think the lease to UCHealth has been very positive and wonderful for the city and the citizens of Colorado Springs and outlying areas. There’s also been some upheaval, no doubt about it. I think it’s been tough on the staff, but we’re seeing some of the rapids dissipate.

Do you still get to interact with patients?

I think it’s important to make rounds. I try to get around every day to different floors and talk with patients. The four things I preach are simple: Don’t hurt me; make me better; be nice to me; and tell me what you’re doing to me. If we can hit on all those cylinders, we’ll have patients who are feeling better. It’s no fun coming to the hospital and we want to make that stay as pleasant as possible.