UCCS-Peak Vista venture a boon for senior services, student training

November 7, 2011
photo - UCCS campus Photo by The Gazette file
UCCS campus Photo by The Gazette file 

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is about to move forward with plans to construct a 56,000-square-foot, $17 million facility to house its mental health and wellness programs, and build on its growing presence in the field of gerontology.

The Academic Health Services Center, which will be on the east side of North Nevada Avenue and south of the Four Diamonds Sports Complex, will allow UCCS to consolidate its CU Aging Center, Gerontology Center and the Beth-el College of Nursing and Health Sciences wellness programs under one roof.

Peak Vista Community Health Centers, a nonprofit that has partnered with UCCS on senior care since 2005, will buy a 7,800-square-foot space in the building to relocate its senior health clinic from Union Boulevard. Peak Vista will also share in the cost of common space areas for a total initial investment of $3.2 million, according to an Aug. 18 program plan written by UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

In her memo to CU President Bruce D. Benson, Shockley-Zalabak said the center will be financed through several cash funds, and the university has been able to free up money by restructuring some of its existing debts. There will be no direct state construction support for the building, a university spokesman said.

“I believe we can do this new building without adding new debt service,” Hutton quoted Shockley-Zalabak as saying in September.

Shockley-Zalabak’s August memo says the building represents the first of three phases that could include two additional wings, with enough space to build out to about 125,000 square feet. Another document highlighting UCCS' two-year cash needs hints at using the additional space for future joint programs with the Anschutz Medical Campus.

UCCS has been on the leading edge of gerontological research and care nationally through its CU Aging Center, Gerontology Center and Beth-el nursing school. The nonprofit CU Aging Center focuses on psychological assessments and mental health treatment for seniors, and provides clinical training for graduate students in geropsychology. The Gerontology Center concentrates more on research and academics related to aging.

All have been involved in community collaborations that include the Palisades at Broadmoor Park senior living center, where nursing, health science and wellness faculty and students provide medical services and physical activity programs.

In 2005, the CU Aging Center (CUAC) and Peak Vista began a partnership to better integrate seniors’ mental health care with their physical care. Earlier this year, The CU Aging Center received a $731,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to expand its mental health services for seniors.

Through the collaborations, UCCS students in nursing, clinical psychology and other fields related to gerontology receive on-the-job training, under supervision.

“The co-location of CUAC, GC and Peak Vista will enhance opportunities for further collaboration, provide the potential to expand senior services, provide a proximate site for training and research and increase community engagement,” Shockley-Zalabak wrote.

UCCS and Peak Vista are scheduled to make a formal announcement about the project on Friday.

Contact Barbara Cotter: 636-0194
Twitter @barbaracotter
Facebook Gazette Barbara Cotter

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