I recently attended a luncheon at Penrose Hospital regarding the Critical Care Campaign. The meeting was hosted by Stan Kensinger of Olive Real Estate Group.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $10 million. The total cost of the project is more than $60 million, the majority of which will be financed through the sale of bonds. The business community is being asked to pledge $2 million for the project ($1.2 million already has been raised). This is the first time the hospital’s 117 year history that the business community has been asked to step up to the plate, and I believe that it is crucial that we respond.

Why? Simple. Economic development.

The Penrose Critical Care Unit has 26 beds, the same number it had when the population of Colorado Springs was 80,000. The city now has more than 535,000 residents. If we are going to remain competitive in attracting new business we need to show prospects that Colorado Springs has a health-care infrastructure that will support a growing work force.

The project has been designated an Enterprise Zone, all donations will receive a 25 percent state tax deduction, and your giving can be budgeted for next year or the next five years.

Need more reasons?

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Did you know that Penrose’s Flight for Life is responsible for all of Southern Colorado, from the Kansas border to the Utah border? Or that the program has been providing service for 20 years?

Penrose Hospital’s new ICU will enable new technology to be available to ICU patients and all residents of the Springs. An example, is technology for treating patients with Parkinson’s disease.

There are volunteer business leaders that you can contact for information about the campaign including Leo Smentowski, volunteer corporate chairman at 533-1740. He can explain how support of the business community is needed. Debbie Ruport, a development officer at the foundation can also be reached at 634-2046.

Leo spent some time in the critical care unit. He was diagnosed with leukemia in November 1999 and underwent a stem-cell transplant in late summer of 2000. In April 2002, a heart attack placed him in the ICU. A car accident in June 2003 again landed him in Penrose Hospital and as a result of a broken hip in December 2003, he underwent hip replacement surgery.

Leo’s health issues are part of the reason for his dedication to this campaign.

The following is a list of others who are involved.

Business segment volunteer leaders

n Automobile dealers: Mike Faricy of the Faricy Boys

n Construction and subcontractors: Mike Trapp of Olson Plumbing & Heating Co.

n Defense contractors: Kevin Wilma, Penrose-St.Francis Foundation, Development Officer

n Financial institutions and insurance: Charles Emmer of Ent Federal Credit Union

n Food distribution/large chains: Joel Midkiff of Sinton Dairy Co. and Leo Smentowski of Leo R. Smentowski & Associates

n Hospital vendors: Jerry Bagg, Leo Smentowski, and Sean Kelly

n Media/communications: Harry Hoth of Pikes Peak Broadcasting

n Real estate/commercial: Stan Kensinger of Olive Real Estate Group

n Real estate/residential: Wynne Palermo of Wynne Realty

n Additional advisory members

n Lynn Pelz of the Bank of Broadmoor

n Rocky Scott of the Economic Development Corp.

n Bob Telmosse of Hoff & Leigh Inc.

Now that you know the contacts and the cause, give a bit of thought to providing some support.

You may see this column from time to time in your CSBJ, but only on issues I feel deserve specific or extra attention from the business community.

Publisher Lon Matejczyk can be reached at 634-3223, ext. 202, or Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com.