More than 40 workers laid off at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

 

The size and bed count of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services' planned hospital atop the Fillmore Street hill may change in the coming months.

But a hospital spokesman on Friday said Catholic Health Initiatives, Penrose-St. Francis' parent organization, remains committed to building the high-rise complex on Colorado Springs' west side.

The hospital system has hired a consultant to conduct a six-month study that will finalize plans for the campus on the northeast corner of Fillmore and Centennial Boulevard, said Chris Valentine, a Penrose-St. Francis spokesman.

Possible changes to the planned 320-bed, $550 million hospital were first reported by The Colorado Springs Business Journal, which quoted the hospital system's interim CEO, Brian Erling.

"You do have to take a step back and say, 'Gosh, are you going to spend half a billion dollars and end up with only a handful more beds and a handful more [operating rooms] to meet the community need? Was that really the best use of that much money?'" Erling told the Business Journal. "So we're asking those questions - and the answer might be yes, that is a good use of the money, let's build the hospital over there; it just needs to be a bit bigger."

However, Valentine disputed that the project is being reconsidered.

"We're still on that path; we have commitment from our parent company to invest in Colorado Springs," Valentine said. "And the question now is what type of hospital - how big it is, what's in it - do we build."

The not-for-profit hospital system has been operating in the red for several years, topping out at a loss of $585 million in fiscal 2017, Modern Healthcare reported in February.

Locally, that has resulted in layoffs and construction delays. In Pueblo nearly 300 people were laid off at the CHI's St. Mary Corwin Medical Center. And in 2016, the expansion of St. Francis Medical Center near Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard was delayed due to capital concerns, Valentine said.

Nevertheless, Valentine said hospital leaders plan to hire an architect and general contractor for the project this fall or winter.

"There's no 'go-or-no-go' discussion right now," Valentine said. "It's 'What do we go with?'"

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