<B>By LAUREY LUMMUS</B> <FONT SIZE=-1><I>Staff Reporter</I></FONT>

The first endoscopic ambulatory surgery center is under construction in ColoradoSprings.

The center, which will be run by Gastroenterology Associates of ColoradoSprings LLP, has two physicians at the helm, Richard Folan, M.D., and SamuelIwata, M.D. The new center will be located at 1699 Medical Center Point.The surgery center will cover more than 9,000 sqaure feet with two stories,the lower first floor being dedicated to surgical procedures, complete withstate-of-the art equipment. Physicians expect to perform 2,000 procedureswith savings of up to 30% to be passed on to patients.

While endoscopic procedures have been the method of choice for physiciansto determine digestive and liver problems, until recently, they have beenlimited to hospital GI labs. The procedures that will be available at thecenter are colonoscopy, gastroendoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy. A procedurethat utilizes the use of radiologic equipment will still be performed athospitals, due to possible complications that could require hospitalization.

The impact this will have on Colorado Springs residents translates into majorcost savings, according to Jason Harwell, representative for GastroenterologyAssociates.

"The payors and patients will both benefit from the center," said Harwell."The payors have aggressively pursued this type of relationship with thephysicians to start this center, which will result in lower costs for theprocedures for both the insurance companies and the patients, because certainhospital fees are not involved."

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The center, expected to open in September, is fully Medicare certified andaccredited. The physicians will also welcome a female gastroenterologist,Susan Mitchell, M.D., who will become the first female GI physician in ColoradoSprings.