Catholic Health Initiatives announced recently about a nine-month delayed start to its St. Francis Hospital expansion project. The hospital expansion was initially to be completed in 2018, but it appears now it won’t be finished until the following year.

“The approximately $100 million expansion to St. Francis Medical Center, which will eventually double the size of our neonatal intensive care unit, add two operating rooms and space for four future operating rooms, and expand the size of our emergency department, is on-track to break ground in 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2019,” said Chris Valentine, director of marketing and communications at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. “Centura Health and our sponsor, CHI, are fully committed to this project.”

CHI, based in Englewood, delayed construction to focus on the completion of projects outside the state.

Valentine said plans to go ahead with a new hospital at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard remain the same.

“We are also in the process of purchasing the 28-acre parcel of land that currently houses an asphalt plant adjacent to the 51 acres we’ve already purchased near the corner of Fillmore and Centennial,” he said. “We will be working very closely with the city of Colorado Springs Planning Department, property owners and local neighbors over the next few months to do our due diligence in ensuring the property is appropriate for our needs, as well as the needs of the surrounding community.”

Once approved by both the city’s Planning Commission and Colorado Springs City Council, Valentine said, the 28-acre transaction “will create an approximately 80-acre parcel of land for future development of a world-class health care facility that will serve the Colorado Springs community for generations to come.”

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To support physical growth, Valentine said, “We continue to grow our employee base which is currently more than 3,300 associates. We have 283 open positions right now that we are aggressively working to fill and we have hired 334 people in the past five months. We continuously evaluate our workforce needs and balance them with the intent of providing high quality healthcare in the most efficient and effective manner.”

The 2016 fiscal year was a year of accelerated growth and investment, Valentine said.

“Reimbursement changes have negatively impacted our revenue streams, and we have focused on building efficiencies and growing our ministry,” he said. “With these challenges, we have become transformational in redefining healthcare. As a result of these ongoing adjustments and initiatives, we feel that we are now back on track.”