Opinion: Penrose-St. Francis strategy and imagination drives vision

Editor’s note: The Business Journal first reported in May that Penrose-St. Francis Health Services was reassessing the plan to build a new hospital on its Fillmore Street site, and kicking off a new strategic plan. In this opinion piece, CEO Brian Erling discusses the strategic plan and Penrose-St. Francis’ goals for the future.

Through an enduring commitment to our mission, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has set the standard for health care as the longest-established hospital system in the Pikes Peak region since 1887. Our tradition is to relentlessly pursue excellence and be the undisputed leaders in health care, providing the communities we serve with whole person care to help them get well and stay well, keeping care local today and into the future.

Looking ahead, Penrose-St. Francis has developed an innovative and exciting strategic plan that positions our health system as not only the health care provider leader in the Pikes Peak region, but also meets the demands and needs of the communities we serve for generations to come.

First off, the foundation of any health system is primary care, which is how we engage our community members to promote wellness, prevention, and the management of chronic illness. Like many growing cities, there is an access to care problem in Colorado Springs. We plan to address this by growing our primary care footprint by over 50 providers in the next 36 months with new and convenient service locations. Along the same imperative, we are going to modernize and expand our urgent care platform to reach more of our community with cost effective, on-demand care.

As many are aware, we acquired a piece of land several years ago on the corner of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard with the intention of building a third acute care campus on that site. While that plan was inspirational and well-informed at the time, this market has experienced growth to the north and east that has out-paced any of our initial projections. As such, we are in the final stages of due diligence on a piece of land better positioned for that growth with plans to close on that purchase in mid-December. Coupled with our investment in sports medicine and performance at the new Hybl Center, we are excited to focus this new campus on orthopedic and spine care to ensure that the most advanced specialty care is available to you, our neighbors.

Penrose Hospital, a site where our ministry began when the Glockner Sanitarium first opened its doors in 1891, remains located in the center of population density for our city. So, while we expand to meet the growth of the city, we are going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize Penrose Hospital for the next 130 years of our ministry. We have a legacy of high acuity, tertiary-care at this campus that we will not abandon. Penrose Hospital will continue to be our Trauma Center, Neurosciences and Cardiovascular Centers of Excellence, and the foundation for our Oncology service line.

We hope the community is as excited as our caregivers are to complete our $102M expansion at St. Francis Medical Center this coming February, which includes our new, 46-bed family-centered neonatal intensive care unit and our new emergency department. As part of that expansion, we have also grown from six to 10 operating rooms this past month and we are going to proceed without delay to build out the next six operating rooms. We will be adding a third medical office building and we are in the planning stages to bring more oncology services. I suspect it will not be long before we are looking to add additional floors to that beautiful campus!

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This is an ambitious and creative plan that has the support of the Centura Board, the Penrose-St. Francis Board, our physicians and our amazing caregivers. We have a clear path forward and it is an exciting time to be a part of Penrose-St. Francis as we propel full-force into the future to meet the health needs of our community, while offering a full spectrum of quality care for the mind, body and spirit — and all close to home.

Brian Erling is the president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.