Children's Hospital Colorado plans to resume construction of a clinic in the Briargate area soon that will offer pediatric behavioral health and other services, but is shelving plans for a downtown Colorado Springs clinic.
Both projects, as well as several others by other local hospital operators, were put on hold in April amid a statewide stay-at-home order imposed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Aurora-based pediatric health care nonprofit continued work on and has completed construction on 16 unfinished patient rooms at its hospital on the UCHealth Memorial North campus in Briargate and expanding its Briargate outpatient and specialty care clinic with 27 additional exam rooms. All of the Children's projects were unveiled a year ago and expected to cost $20 million.
"These locations were put on hold until we could better understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on our organization," Greg Raymond, chief operating officer of Children's Colorado Springs hospital, said in a news release. "Throughout the fall, we reassessed the strategy and direction of our Colorado Springs sites along with several others that remained closed through the summer."
Construction is scheduled to begin by the third quarter on the clinic at 2375 Telestar Drive, which is scheduled to open in mid-2022. The centerpiece of the clinic is a new daytime pediatric inpatient behavioral health program capable of treating up to 20 children for an average of 10 days. Patients would return to their homes in the evenings and overnight before coming back for eight hours of treatment each day.
The 23,000-square-foot facility, which will replace Children's Printers Park therapy clinic, also will include developmental pediatric clinics, an outdoor playground recreation area and physical, occupational, sports medicine, audiology, speech and learning therapy areas.
Construction will resume as a result of "significant donation" from a local donor the hospital declined to name that requires Children's secure additional matching donations.
The grant and match, which total $3 million, also will pay to nearly double the size of the hospital's Building Resilience for Healthy Kids program to 6,000 students in 11 elementary and middle schools in five Colorado Springs-area school districts. Students receive one-on-one health coaching in the program, which started with a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation and was tested last fall in four schools in Colorado Springs School District 11 and Harrison School District 2.
That program is designed to prevent more severe behavioral health issues that would require treatment in Children's six-bed behavioral health unit in its Emergency Room or the planned daytime in-patient unit, Raymond said. The need for the additional behavioral health services is demonstrated by the number of youth suicides doubling during the pandemic (April-December), from the same period during the previous year, he said.
"The mental health of children in our community has been a topic of discussion for years," Margaret Sabin, president of Children's operations in southern Colorado, said in the release. "Yet, here we are seeing suicides, suicide attempts and suicidal ideations increase again. Our children deserve the services they need here — in their community — and they deserve them now. They need them now."
Children's also said in the release that it plans to cancel a lease for 8,500 square feet of office space at 421 S. Tejon St., where the hospital planned to open a downtown urgent care clinic, due to "decreased demand." The clinic was expected to include orthopedics and specialists in ear, nose and throat, digestive issues, cardiology, neurology and diagnostic imaging.