Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has announced a late summer groundbreaking for a $200-million hospital at Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road.

The St. Francis Medical Center will service the growing northeastern communities of Colorado Springs. The 350,000-square-foot project will be completed by early 2008.

The full-service hospital will be licensed for about 156 beds and services will include a birth center and Level III neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric unit, emergency care, inpatient and outpatient surgery centers, and an intensive care unit.

The site also will house the Flight for Life program, with a helicopter hangar and on-site repair service. Attached medical office buildings are included in the project plans.

“We are thrilled to finally be able to make this exciting announcement to the community. We have taken extra time to truly evaluate the area and the health care needs of the families that live in that part of the city,” said Penrose-St. Francis President and CEO Rick O’Connell.

“Penrose Hospital will continue to provide the tertiary services that it currently offers and will remain the flagship hospital of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. This new project will allow us to operate two sophisticated hospitals for the community.”

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Once the Powers and Woodmen location is completed, the services offered at St. Francis Health Center will be transitioned to the new facility.

Penrose Community Hospital will remain open, however, according to a news release, “a variety of their current services will be relocated.” The emergency room at Penrose Community will remain intact as an urgent care center, with trauma cases transferred to Penrose Hospital. Penrose Community’s maternal services will transition to the new medical center.

O’Connell said that RTA Architects designed the new facility and that GE Johnson is the contractor.

Visually impaired benefit from annual ski race

The 28th VIBeS/Sno Jets Benefit Race is scheduled for March 5 at Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area. Visually Impaired Blind Skiers is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that is an advocate for the blind and visually impaired.

VIBeS provides recreational and physical activities, including downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, camping, rafting, rock climbing and tandem bicycling.

Dr. Tony Ikehara, owner of Advanced Eye Care, and The Ski Shop are sponsoring the race. Ikehara has been a supporter and volunteer with VIBeS for five years. He said visually impaired people can enjoy the same recreational activities as fully sighted people. The limitations are the same for the blind as they are for any sports enthusiast – the physical challenge.

“We took four people people to the top of Mount Elbert a couple of years ago,” Ikehara said. “Last weekend, we stayed at a lodge in Breckenridge with 28 people.”

Volunteers act as guides for the blind skiers, hikers, campers, etc. Ikehara hopes to guide a visually impaired runner up Pikes Peak for this year’s annual ascent. He talked about guiding a hike with a man who had been blind from birth.

“Describing the clouds and the trees to someone who has never seen them is different,” Ikehara said. “You want to relate to it so he can physically feel it.”

The March 5 benefit is a team NASTAR ski race and is open to skiers of all levels, ages and visual acuity. Coordinators say it’s a friendly competition.

The Sno Jets Ski Club has co-sponsored the event since its inception.

For information about the event, call 593-1982 or e-mail

CSHP physician achieves unique certification

The American Board of Clinical Lipidology has awarded Dr. Kari Uusinarkaus, a family medicine physician who practices with Colorado Springs Health Partners in Woodland Park, diplomat status.

Uusinarkaus is one of only 150 physicians in the United States to receive the status.

Lipidologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cholesterol disorders, known as dyslipidemia, which can cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

According to a CSHP news release, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost one-third of all deaths in the United States.

The certification provides Uusinarkaus an “opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of addressing cardiovascular disease, as it continues to be the No. 1 killer of men and women in our society,” he said.

“There is a need to be more assertive from a preventive standpoint in addressing the risk factors for heart disease with patients.”

Uusinarkaus, who has practiced with CSHP since 2001, also serves as the medical director for the CSHP Lipids Management Program.

Advanced HealthCare Services’ name change

Advanced HealthCare Services of Colorado Springs, a medical staffing and home care provider, has changed its name to NurseCore.

“Nurses are the center – the core – of our business,” said Christina Sanders, president and COO at the company headquarters in Arlington, Texas. “The word core comes from the French word for heart, and nurses are the heart of health care.”

NurseCore staffing and home care services include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, certified nurse aides, home health aides, therapists, medical assistants, psychiatric techs, companions and more.

Marylou Doehrman covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.