The unprecedented growth seen during the last few years in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region — indeed, the entire state — showed no signs of slowing in 2019, and neither did its health care industry.
“We are so committed to … growing with our city, not for the sake of growth, but for the sake of delivering the best possible health care that we can,” Centura Health spokeswoman Andrea Sinclair said. “We have to meet people where they live, where they work, where they play. It has to be intentional.”
This year saw the opening of southern Colorado’s first hospital exclusively for pediatric patients — Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. The 294,000-square-foot, 111-bed facility — located on UCHealth’s Memorial North campus, between Briargate Parkway and North Union Boulevard — is Children’s Hospital Colorado’s fourth facility in the Springs.
“There has been pediatrics within the city of Colorado Springs for many decades and there’s a rich history there, but having the opportunity to stand up the next chapter in pediatric care has been incredible,” said Dr. Mike DiStefano, chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. “If you go to another emergency department, you’re going to see somebody who may be taking care of an adult stroke patient. We are geared for kids.”
In 2018, Centura Health rolled out its systemwide 2025 strategic plan with the goal of adding 50 primary care providers in the Pikes Peak region during the next 36 months, Sinclair said.
As of mid-December, 18 primary care physician providers had come to the Pikes Peak region, along with new primary care locations on Research Parkway and at the Penrose-St. Francis Medical Center, Sinclair said.
“In terms of strategy activation, we feel very successful and right on target to reach our goal,” she said. “With our research and all of the work that we’ve done in terms of listening to our patients and community members … primary care and urgent care is where we have to focus. That’s absolutely part of our strategic plan.”
Much of 2019 has been a continuation of that strategic plan, Sinclair said, particularly with the February completion of a $102 million expansion project at Penrose-St. Francis Medical Center.
“That campus has met and exceeded projections from the day that we opened, and it’s still poised to continue to grow and expand,” Sinclair said.
The project included a new emergency department with 52 beds, more than double the number in the original unit. Of the new beds, four are reserved for intake evaluations and 32 are acute-care exam rooms. The remaining rooms include six for observation, six for “SuperTrack” patients with lower-acuity needs and four behavioral health rooms. Separate units are designated for children.
The Penrose Cancer Center also announced in March an ongoing affiliation with the MD Anderson Cancer Center, bringing certified oncological specialists, surgeons and radiologists to the Pikes Peak region, Sinclair said.
“That just builds on the success of our Penrose Cancer Center,” she said. “Now the patients that come in have access to this amazing expertise. … We’ve really brought their expertise to continue to reinforce the excellent oncological care that we’re already offering.”
Previously, patients wanting a second opinion had to look outside Penrose Cancer Center, but now have that entire body of support available in-house, Sinclair said.
“That is just priceless to our patients,” she said.
UCHealth patients throughout Colorado can now use the system’s Virtual Visits service, which offers access to a UCHealth provider at just $49 without insurance, UCHealth spokesperson Cary Vogrin said.
“This provides a more convenient and lower-cost alternative to the emergency department for patients who are not experiencing a medical emergency,” Vogrin said.
The system also expanded its billing estimate tool to include Memorial Central, Memorial North and Grandview hospitals, providing accurate out-of-pocket estimates for upcoming medical services, Vogrin said.
In August, UCHealth broke ground on Grandview Medical Center, a 65,000-square-foot expansion of the Grandview Campus, adjacent to Grandview Hospital, 5623 Pulpit Peak View in north-central Colorado Springs.
The three-story building, scheduled to open in late 2020, will offer a full range of orthopedic sub-specialties, a primary care practice with a focus on sports medicine, advanced orthopedic imaging services, and an expansive physical therapy clinic and gym.
The UCHealth Specialty Care Clinic in Woodland Park also expanded services to include women’s health; ear, nose and throat specialists; general surgery; and orthopedics, adding 13 new specialists to the clinic with more planned in 2020.
In October, UCHealth announced it will dedicate more than $100 million over the next five years to address behavioral health needs for patients across Colorado. UCHealth Memorial also hired a Zero Suicide coordinator to implement a standardized approach to assessing patients for suicide risk, and the system partnered with Springs Recovery Connection to place peer recovery coaches in the emergency department at Memorial Central, Vogrin said. Peer coaches meet with patients who are seeking help for addiction and also connect patients with resources in the community.