St. Francis Medical Center’s $102 million expansion project is beginning to take shape.

The northeast Colorado Springs hospital welcomed the first newborns into its new partially completed neonatal intensive care unit this past week. It marks the first in a wave of hospital construction projects that are expected to unfold over the next six to nine months across northern and eastern Colorado Springs.

The rest of the St. Francis Medical Center’s expansion is expected to be completed in early 2019, including several new operating rooms in October and a new emergency room in February.

A few miles away, UCHealth Memorial Hospital North’s $128 million expansion is expected to be completed early next year. The project includes several new operating rooms and emergency treatment “bays.”

And the newest Children’s Hospital facility in Colorado Springs also is expected to open adjacent to Memorial Hospital North in early 2019. The five-story, $165 million hospital is expected to include a 50-bed neonatal intensive care unit, 48 beds for pediatric surgery and pediatric intensive care and 13 other inpatient beds.

The hospital boom comes as Colorado Springs’ population center continues to shift north and east — creating a dire need for more beds, Penrose-St. Francis leaders said.

“The growth of the city is really fueling a lot of these expansions,” said Calvin Eisenach, the hospital’s site administrator.

Construction crews broke ground on the project in spring 2017, after several months of delays due to funding issues with Penrose- St. Francis’ parent organization, Catholic Health Initiatives. The project involves building a four-level, 134,000-square-foot addition on the west side of the hospital.

Crews are still renovating the hospital’s existing neonatal intensive care unit a short walk from the hospital’s latest addition. Once completed this year, the entire unit is expected to grow from 30 rooms to 46.

Two of those rooms have been specially outfitted so that each can accommodate a mother and her infant. Such “couplet” rooms are meant to help mothers breastfeed while recovering from childbirth, and to allow them more time to nurture their babies.

The addition also includes a deck with views of the Front Range and an indoor walking garden.

The goal, Eisenach said, is to create a neonatal intensive care unit that’s as stress-free and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

“It allows patients to decompress a little bit,” Eisenach said.

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