St. Francis Medical Center will be the starting point for a new partnership between Centura Health, St. Francis’ parent company, and the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
The agreement announced Thursday is a letter of intent to explore potential collaborations to improve access to pediatric services in southern Colorado. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and its sister hospitals in Pueblo and Cañon City currently treat more than 25,000 pediatric patients a year and, said Penrose-St. Francis CEO Margaret Sabin, St. Francis was built with a focus on pediatric services in mind.
“We do not want children shipped to Denver for services,” Sabin said. “It’s a very high priority that we get it right and that we create a system of care that’s world class here in Colorado Springs.”
It’s not yet clear what the agreement will mean in terms of services or facilities in Colorado Springs, but Sabin said the goal was to turn St. Francis into a magnet for pediatric patients throughout southern Colorado.
“People are craving a full spectrum of pediatric services,” Sabin said.
The deal is also a sign that Centura does not plan to stay on the sidelines as Children’s Hospital Colorado opens a new Briargate facility June 14 and plans to sublet Memorial Hospital for Children if voters approve leasing city-owned Memorial to University of Colorado Health in August.
Local pediatrician Dr. Harry Anderson, a longtime proponent and occasional critic of Memorial Hospital for Children, said he has deep concerns that competing children’s hospitals would erode the quality of care in Colorado Springs because there aren’t enough pediatric patients to support duplicate services.
“I just don’t think there’s room for two children’s hospital affiliations here,” Anderson said. “You can’t pay for both of those. It’s going to hurt the overall concept. I think it’s just unwarranted.”
Mimi Roberson, CEO of Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, doesn’t see it that way.
“I think what the reality is for many markets is that there are long waiting lines and limited numbers of specialists that are able to take care of the patients,” she said.
Sabin said Centura considered working with Children’s Hospital Colorado in some way, or simply starting its own children’s hospital, but decided that partnering with Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children offered the best opportunity to expand services at all of Centura’s 13 Colorado hospitals. Although the deal is starting here, it will eventually include the entire state.
Roberson said some specialists affiliated with Rocky Mountain already working in Colorado Springs will be concentrated at St. Francis.
“We’re there right now, so it’s a very easy partnership for us,” she said.
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is part of HealthOne, the Colorado arm of the national for-profit hospital company HCA. Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is based in a 160,000-square-foot pediatric care center at HealthOne’s Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver and provides services at six of HealthOne’s Denver-area hospitals. HCA was one of University of Colorado Health's competitors to lease Memorial.
Centura Health, the state’s largest hospital group, is a faith-based nonprofit jointly sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives and the Adventist Health System.
Children's Hospital Colorado issued this statement Thursday evening:
As the only licensed, nationally-ranked children’s hospital in the region, Children’s Hospital Colorado has a long commitment to providing the highest quality care for patients and families in Colorado Springs. Children’s Colorado has continued to partner with community physicians and patients to identify and develop expanded pediatric services and specialties that best serve the growing Colorado Springs community. The new Children’s Hospital Colorado Outpatient Specialty Care, Colorado Springs facility at 4125 Briargate Parkway reflects that commitment. Many of the physicians and staff providing these specialty care services enjoy living and working in Colorado Springs. The staff, patients, their families and area physicians worked together to identify the following services that will be provided at the new 50,000 square-foot facility, which will begin serving patients and families on June 14th:
· Audiology and Speech Language Therapy
· ENT (2013)
· Gastrointestinal/Digestive Health
· Imaging (Fluoroscopy, MRI, Ultrasound, X-ray)
· Orthopedics, including orthopedic rehabilitation
· Outpatient Laboratory Services
· Partnering with Ronald McDonald House Charities and Starlight Foundation to provide a family amenities suite
Children’s Colorado has a philosophy of providing services close to where children live and looks forward to continuing to offer the very best pediatric services to the Colorado Springs community.