UCHealth Memorial Hospital North is growing so fast the Briargate-area facility had to accelerate its expansion timeline and build additional rooms sooner than planned.
On Oct. 18, the 89-bed hospital will open the first phase of its $128 million expansion project — a nine-room addition to its Emergency Department that will increase its capacity by 50 percent.
The project features the latest emergency medicine designs, including a CAT scanner adjacent to trauma rooms; large computer monitors in trauma rooms so doctors can look at CAT scans or other images immediately; heating panels in the ceilings to keep patients warm; and supply cabinets organized from the patient’s head to toe. The designs incorporated recommendations from trauma surgeons, the emergency services medical director and Emergency Department staff, said Shawna Zautcke, clinical nurse manager at Memorial North, during a tour on Tuesday.
The rest of the project is scheduled to open Feb. 25 and includes oncology treatment areas plus 46 additional beds and is connected to the new Children’s Hospital, also under construction. Eighteen of the 46 beds were to remain unfinished for awhile, but the hospital’s patient volume is increasing so fast that Memorial North had contractor GE Johnson Construction finish the rooms and equipment for the rooms is on order, said Tamera Rosenbaum, Memorial’s vice president and associate chief nursing officer.
The project also includes the first 24-hour outpatient pharmacy in northeast Colorado Springs and expansions of the laboratory and kitchen.
“We are growing so fast that we have to hire a nurse every day of the year to keep up with our growth in Colorado Springs. That doesn’t include operating-room or emergency- department technicians,” Rosenbaum said. “We also have to increase our new employee orientations from biweekly to weekly, starting late this month.”
UCHealth Memorial employs 5,180 people in southern Colorado at Memorial Hospital Central, Memorial Hospital North, Grandview Hospital, Pikes Peak Regional Hospital in Woodland Park at its free-standing emergency rooms, urgent-care clinics and other operations. That makes the four-hospital system the largest civilian employer in the Colorado Springs area. No additional employees have been hired to work specifically at the expanded Emergency Department; UCHealth instead added to a pool of nurses and other staff members who move among its hospitals, Rosenbaum said.
The Emergency Department expansion, built in Memorial North’s existing tower, also includes two new operating rooms and two unfinished operating rooms. The hospital is remodeling existing space for a second cardiac catheterization-interventional oncology laboratory — scheduled to open in April — and two additional gastrointestinal suites to open in July.
The 130,000-square-foot expansion won’t be the last at the 128-acre Memorial North, which opened in 2007. The master plan for the campus, which also houses Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group, calls for a second hospital tower, a second medical office building and a parking garage.