Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Memorial could add new children's hospital at north Colorado Springs campus

By Jakob Rodgers Updated: January 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Plans for a new children's hospital in north Colorado Springs and a pediatric urgent care facility in south central Colorado Springs were announced Friday by Memorial Hospital officials.

"This just further demonstrates that we're really moving out of a transition move into an optimization mode," said Mike Scialdone, Memorial Hospital's chief executive.

The most immediate expansion could come this year with a new pediatric urgent care facility operated by Children's Hospital Colorado, a partner of Memorial Hospital and University of Colorado Health, which is one year into a 40-year lease of the Memorial facilities. Officials are searching for a building to house the pediatric urgent care near Memorial Hospital Central, 1400 E. Boulder St., said Jim Shmerling, Children's Hospital's chief executive.

Children's Hospital also plans to hire an architect to design a hospital that would be next to Memorial Hospital North - which sit on an 80-acre plot of partially-developed land near Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway, Shmerling said.

He gave no timeline for breaking ground, no cost estimate nor a bed count for how large the facility could be. Children's Hospital officials plan to talk to Colorado Springs City Council, as well as the surrounding community, in the coming months regarding those plans.

"We really look at Colorado Springs as the southern hub of Children's Hospital Colorado," Shmerling said.

The construction of a children's hospital would be the most visible sign to date of changes brought after Memorial Hospital's 40-year lease to UCHealth began on Oct. 1, 2012.

Since then, Children's Hospital recruited 17 new specialists for its Colorado Springs locations in a bid to address a lack of pediatric specialists across the Pikes Peak region, according to Amy Moynihan, a hospital spokeswoman.

Children's Hospital is licensed for 102 beds at its Memorial Hospital Central location, largely for neonatal and pediatric intensive care and surgery.

In June 2012, Children's Hospital opened a 50,000-square-foot outpatient campus at 4125 Briargate Parkway, which boasts more than 20 specialties. It also has two therapy care locations in southern Colorado - one at the Printers Park Medical Plaza in Colorado Springs and another in Pueblo.

"Our intent is to take services out to the families, to children, and not focus everything in one place," Shmerling said.

Scialdone offered no details on a promise to expand Memorial's adult services, noting only that hospital officials are in the early stages of drafting a new master facilities plan.

UCHealth promised at least $28 million a year on capital improvements, including $90 million during the first three years of its lease. So far, much of that has gone toward a $40 million electronic records system that went live Nov. 2.

Officials also replaced aging boilers and infrastructure, and brought aboard dozens of new doctors while acquiring Pikes Peak Cardiology and Heart Center of Colorado.

The hospital is conducting an assessment for how to approach getting a Level I trauma center designation - a goal shared by cross-town competitor Penrose-St. Francis Health System. Memorial has yet to submit any documents to the state seeking that designation, Scialdone said.

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