An architect’s rendering of hospital Penrose-St. Francis Health Services plans to build on its 57.8-acre site southeast of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway.

Centura Health broke ground Monday on the newest part of its continuing expansion in Colorado Springs —a 72-bed hospital named for St. Clare of Assisi, founder of the Catholic religious order of nuns.

The $160 million St. Clare Hospital is scheduled to open in March 2023 southeast of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway to serve the fast-growing neighborhoods of northern Colorado Springs and northern El Paso County. The four-story, 140,000-square-foot hospital will specialize in orthopedic and spine care and will employ about 400 people, said Dr. Brian Erling, CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, the Centura unit that will operate St. Clare Hospital.

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"It is rare to start a new hospital, and rarer still to do it after surviving a pandemic," said Rene Campagna, Centura's group vice president of mission integration. The new hospital, she said, will continue the legacy of the two religious orders that started with the opening of St. Francis Hospital in 1887 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration and the takeover of Glockner Sanatorium six years later by the Sisters of Charity. The two systems merged in 1990 to form Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers applauded Centura for "pushing ahead with this project during a time of tremendous uncertainty" amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said St. Clare Hospital will be the latest contribution to the city's growing area of medical facilities, including six other hospitals, that play a key role in attracting businesses, retirees, elite athletes and others to the Colorado Springs area.

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St. Clare of Assisi was born to a wealthy Italian family in 1194 and at 18 years old became a follower of St. Francis after hearing him preach. She would later form a Catholic religious order that became known as the Poor Clares. Many places, including churches, convents, schools, hospitals, towns, and counties, are named for St. Clare, including the city of Santa Clara, Calif., and Lake St. Clair near Detroit.

The hospital and a soon-to-be-unveiled medical office building and surgery center will be the first phase of development on the 58-acre site that is expected to grow over time and rival the size of Centura's 195-bed St. Francis Medical Center. St. Clare Hospital will include 64 inpatient beds, eight critical care beds (which could be expanded to 24 beds), a 14-bed emergency department, 10 operating rooms with robotic equipment and 30 beds for surgical preparation and recovery. Erling said the hospital will have the "most advanced health care information technology and newest digital capabilities."

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The new hospital is part of the booming InterQuest area that also includes a new Scheels All Sports store; the nearly complete new headquarters for Ent Credit Union; a restaurant, patty production and distribution facilities for In-N-Out Burger and the planned first local restaurant for Texas restaurant chain Whataburger. The area also is home to the Great Wolf Lodge water park and resort, two theater complexes, other restaurants, stores and hotels as well as several manufacturing plants, data centers and offices.

Penrose-St. Francis also is adding 60 patient rooms to St. Francis Medical Center in an $80 million project that is expected to open in about a year and add 80 employees to that hospital's staff. Centura also operates Penrose Hospital and several outpatient complexes, rehabilitation centers, imaging facilities and primary care and specialty medical practices that together employ about 4,000 in the Colorado Springs area.

Contact Wayne Heilman 636-0234