It will have been five years, as of Oct. 1, since Memorial Hospital changed its ownership model from a city-owned operation. In 2012, voters approved a 40-year lease agreement with UCHealth.
Joel Yuhas, CEO of Memorial Hospital, said its facilities are breaking records thanks to rapid population growth, adding the system is better positioned today because of that lease than it was in 2012.
“UCHealth invested millions into the Colorado Springs market,” Yuhas said. “Each hospital has its own story to tell, but in every case these investments have translated into improved care.”
Memorial Central’s trauma program has seen double-digit growth in the past year, Yuhas said, adding admissions have been up 8 percent during the last fiscal year, which ended June 30.
Yuhas also said the system is the largest provider of maternity care in the state, with just under 5,000 discharges during that same timeframe.
The story at the Memorial North campus continues to be its $128 million tower expansion.
“That will be an area of continued focus for us,” he said. “At the five-year mark, that part of town is growing faster than the rest of the city.”
Yuhas said, once the project is complete, there will be 80 acres left on that campus for further development. The current expansion will include growing surgical services and the size of the maternity department, as well as the creation of a bridge linking it to the adjacent Children’s Hospital, which is currently under construction.
UCHealth also opened Grandview Hospital in 2016 on North Nevada Avenue. The hospital provides services including internal medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery and critical care. The 58,000-square-foot facility is not, however, trauma-certified.
Grandview is operated through a partnership with Adeptus Health, a Texas-based, freestanding emergency room operator. UCHealth and Adeptus Health own and operate Grandview Hospital and the four freestanding UCHealth ER locations. The partnership is a joint venture, and the facilities, leaders and staff report to the partnership between the organizations.
Yuhas said one of UCHealth’s priorities moving forward will be placing facilities closer to where people live.
“We’ve increased our outpatient centers from eight to 22 over the past five years,” he said. “That’s to address the area’s deficit in primary care.”
He said the system just completed a study with an outside group to determine where in the community the deficits lie.
“The reason we have the busiest emergency department in the state is because of the inadequate supply of primary care providers today to meet demand of a city that’s growing so rapidly,” he said.
Freestanding facilities can alleviate the primary care shortage in the short-term, Yuhas said. But a longer-term solution can be found in increased partnerships with local academic institutions, including working with UCCS in expanding the system’s residency training program and working with Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences to expand training sites for those students.
Finally, Yuhas said UCHealth has acquired 22 acres of land near North Powers Boulevard and North Carefree Circle and is investing in a market study to determine how to develop that property, with signs pointing to a future ambulatory site.
The greatest challenge during the past five years, Yuhas said, has been addressing the primary care deficit.
“We have significantly expanded UCHealth’s medical group over the last two to three years,” he said. “We have just under 250 employed in the group and have budgeted for an additional 94. That has been another mechanism for us to respond to various demands for specialty and primary care services.”
Among the advancements:
- An expansion of the hospital’s neurosciences program, which provides comprehensive stroke care. Memorial offers 24/7 care for stroke patients, eliminating the need for patients with complex strokes to be transported to Denver. Memorial’s neurosciences team has grown more than 530 percent since 2012 and now includes a team of 57 providers and staff members.
- Growth in cardiovascular care and technology, including the opening of a new heart catheterization lab at Memorial Hospital North and a hybrid operating room equipped with advanced imaging devices at Memorial Central.
- A new radiation oncology facility at Memorial Hospital North and stereotactic radiosurgery programs at both Memorial Central and Memorial North — offering treatments to cancer patients for whom surgery is otherwise not an option. Oncology and infusion therapy services also have been expanded to Memorial Hospital North.
- Memorial Central renovated 188 patient rooms, converting most all of them from semiprivate to private.