Updated: June 12, 2012 at 12:00 am
Children’s Hospital Colorado will open an $11 million, 50,000-square-foot outpatient specialty care center Thursday in Briargate to bring together its existing specialists in Colorado Springs and pave the way for more local services.
Opening the new center at 4125 Briargate Parkway, across the street from Memorial North, has been in the works for more than two years, said Suzy Jaeger, Children’s vice president of ambulatory services. It’s the largest outpatient facility in Children’s network, which includes similar centers around the Denver metropolitan area and Children’s plans on seeing about 25,000 patients a year at the Briargate center.
Children’s already had orthopedics, cardiology, oncology and gastroenterology practices in Colorado Springs, but they were in four separate locations and not all had access to in-house radiology, lab and pharmacy services. Adding those services will mean shorter stays for patients and more time at home, said Kathy Bishop, ambulatory practice director for the new facility. Patients do better when they can recover at home, she said, and the demand for services in Colorado Springs has been growing steadily.
In 2011, Children’s main hospital in Aurora saw more than 10,000 outpatient visits from El Paso County residents and there were another 5,648 outpatient visits to its other network sites, including trips to the existing local practices.
“The need down here has been large and the growth has been amazing,” Bishop said.
About 100 people, including about 30 doctors and midlevel providers, will work at the outpatient facility.
“We’ve been hiring a whole lot of staff,” Bishop said.
The cancer services will open on Thursday, with the other practices moving to the new location in the coming weeks. Children’s is also recruiting an ear, nose and throat specialist, a pulmonologist and a neurologist, it hired a third gastroenterologist and a fourth cardiologist, and it has added speech, audiology, metabolic and swallowing disorders to its local services. And it is planning on continuing to expand — Children’s has an option to take over the unfinished third floor of the building.
“Every time Children’s has done a facility with outpatient services in mind, within a couple years we’re out of space,” Jaeger said.
Jaeger said Children’s looked for a location near Memorial Central and Memorial Hospital for Children near downtown Colorado Springs, but couldn’t find a large enough space. The Briargate location is in a growing, family friendly area, she said, and Children’s is raising money to provide transportation for low-income families who may have difficulty getting to the north-end.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that that’s a big concern,” Jaeger said of access from central and south Colorado Springs.
The additional space will also allow other specialists from Children’s main hospital at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora to hold local clinics more frequently.
“More and more of medicine is getting pushed to the outpatient world,” Bishop said.
The new outpatient clinic isn’t directly related to Children’s plans to sublet Memorial Hospital for Children if voters approve leasing Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health in August. The Briargate facility has no provisions for opening an urgent care or providing sedation or around-the-clock care.
Children’s isn’t the only hospital expanding pediatric services in the Springs. Last week, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services announced an agreement with HealthOne’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children to provide additional pediatric services at St. Francis Medical Center at Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard.