The now-vacant former Doctors Hospital and Eisenhower Hospital at 2502 E. Pikes Peak Ave. in Colorado Springs will start a new life in health care after renovations by Rocky Mountain Health Care Services.
RMHCS has programs to help elderly and persons of all ages with brain injuries.
A 38-year-old nonprofit, RMHCS bought the building in 2013 with the intent to move its programs to the 60,000-square-foot brick structure. The building will double the organization’s workspace.
It broke ground on the project Dec. 10.
The expanded space will include a medical clinic, rehabilitation unit, day health center, art classrooms, residential area, outdoor living area and commercial kitchen to help people with brain injuries relearn how to cook.
The new location will increase efficiency for the organization, which has many sites whose limited space restricts the number of people served.
This project will enhance revitalization efforts in the center of Colorado Springs, including job creation, as the number of community members served will increase annually.
“The goal of all of our programs is to help folks with independent skills training, help them with cognitive training and programs to bring them back to whatever their highest level of independence possible is,” said Tamrin Apaydin, chief financial officer of RMHCS.
The organization now serves more than 5,500 people a year in El Paso and Teller counties. The new building should be operational by July.
“This new building will become the cornerstone for RMHCS for our future,” said Tom Reiter, president and CEO.
“We have been in the design phase 15 months. We have almost gotten through all the asbestos abatement for this building.”
Structurally, the building is sound, he added.
“When you come back for the grand opening, you’ll see a much different flow and openness,” Reiter said.
Built in the 1960s, with additions completed in the ’70s and ’80s, the building presents a “unique challenge,” said Jason Newcomer, project manager.
Colorado Springs’ Nunn Construction will complete the $4.5 million project, Newcomer said.
“They make it look easy,” said Reiter of Shopworks Architecture and OZ Architecture, also contracted for the project. U.S. Bank provided the funding, he added.
Serving the elderly
Two floors of the four-story building will house the PACE program, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, including the day center and medical clinic for the elderly. PACE teams include physicians, nurses and social workers; physical, occupational, recreational and mental health therapists and counselors; dietitians and more.
PACE delivers medical and supportive services to seniors in their homes as well as the day center.
The RMHCS also offers a single-entry point for Medicaid recipients eligible for benefits. Case managers assess the recipients’ needs, then refer them back to the community for services. They also manage the persons’ needs over time.
The fourth floor will house the neuropathway center for people with brain injuries.
People with brain injuries occupy one floor of a current building, but they are limited by space, Apaydin said.
“If it gets too crowded, it’s tough for that population,” Apaydin said.
“It’s such a niche here in Colorado Springs,” said BrainCare Manager Valerie Torres. “We have the military and people with brain injuries in the community. Our goal is to help them live independently.”
In addition to intensive counseling, the program teaches people how to cook, do laundry and perform other tasks they once completed with ease.
“They were a different person, so we help them live with their new reality as a new person.”
The new building will have state-of-the-art classrooms and training kitchens and a laundry room for hands-on teaching.
The RMHCS has a $29 million budget, funded primarily through Medicaid and Medicare with a small portion of private-pay and military contracts for veterans with brain injuries and the PACE program for seniors.
“If they’re facing a nursing home, we’re able to keep them at home longer. We’re seeing a lot of growth in those two areas,” Reiter said.
“It tears at your heart sometimes, but if at the end of the day we’re able to keep people at home, help people with a brain injury with rehabilitation to help them with their independence, it just melts your heart.”
The PACE program pays RMHCS a per-month fee per client, “and it’s up to us to determine how to meet the needs of the clients,” Reiter said.
The last floor will be remodeled in the second phase of development.
“Initially, it may be the assisted living facility for people with brain injuries, because we’re restricted currently by space,” Tamrin said.
“We’re licensed for 30 beds but we don’t have 30 beds yet.”
“We know with certainty we are making a positive influence on lives in our community,” said Carolyn Pace, chair of the board at RMHCS.
“The new and larger space will allow us to better serve the community and be more centrally located in town,” Reiter said. “We are thrilled to help more participants stay independent in the community and see this project take flight.”
“[U.S. Sen.] Michael Bennet supports PACE because it’s a vulnerable population,” said Annie Oatman Gardner, Bennet spokeswoman. “Rocky Mountain Health Care Services is a provider who will help veterans and strengthen our community as a whole.”
RMHCS is the parent company of Rocky Mountain (PACE), BrainCare, HealthRide and Rocky Mountain Options for Long Term Care.[all nonprofits?