Kaiser Permanente announced Thursday it will greatly expand its health-care offerings and remove age restrictions at its Colorado Springs office, and eventually open new offices in southern Colorado.

The move is the first part of a five-year plan by Kaiser Permanente to grow along the entire Front Range, said spokeswoman Amy Whited.

"It is anticipated that this expansion will provide a healthy boost to the Southern Colorado economy with the addition of new jobs," Kaiser Permanente said in a news release. It did not estimate how many jobs would be created or how much it is spending to expand.

On Thursday, the nonprofit changed the name of its Briargate office to Kaiser Permanente Briargate Medical Offices to better reflect the array of specialty medical services it will add. The office began offering allergy services earlier this month; others - including dermatology, rheumatology, pediatric care - will be phased in through the end of the year, said Holly Kortum, Kaiser Permanente executive director for Southern Colorado.

The Briargate office also is offering family practice services to members of all ages now instead of just those 55 and older, as was the case until this month.

Kortum said Kaiser Permanente plans to open more offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo over the next few years, but how many, and where, won't be announced until later.

"We have expanded significantly over the last five years, opening new medical offices in Castle Rock, Brighton, Parker and most recently Lone Tree," Kortum said. "We believe there is now a great opportunity to grow our membership in southern Colorado.

Kaiser Permanente, which provides both health-care services and insurance, also said Thursday it would introduce new health plans early next year, with additional pricing choices that will include different coverage options, she said.

"Health care is changing rapidly and in order for us to be able grow and effectively serve our current and future members we must offer additional convenience and choice," Kaiser Permanente Colorado President Donna Lynne said in the news release.

Kaiser Permanente has about 40,000 members in the Springs and 15,000 in Pueblo.


Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275