For the Children
Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs will be the first pediatric-only hospital in southern Colorado.
It’s name—Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs—may be something of a mouthful, but the opening of the first pediatric-only hospital in southern Colorado is a big deal.
Greg Raymond, chief operating officer for Children’s southern region, has led the planning for the new hospital and says he’ll be excited to have the doors open. But, he says, “I’m always quick to point out that it’s not the building that’s going to bring the level of specialized health care to Colorado Springs. It’s all of the successful recruiting that we’ve had going back to 2012. It’s the physicians who’ve decided to relocate to Colorado Springs, to focus their practice exclusively on kids and live here, be involved in the schools, in the community… The building is a culmination of all the effort.”
Children’s Hospital Colorado has had a presence in southern Colorado since 2001; today, it provides pediatric services to UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central and Memorial North as well as therapy care, urgent care, and outpatient specialty care at its Briargate and Printers Park locations in the Springs and in Pueblo. The Briargate outpatient location, just across the street from the new hospital, had more than 250,000 patient visits last year and has experienced a 550% growth since opening in 2012; that makes it the second busiest location in Children’s system after its Anschutz Medical Campus location.
Looking to the Future
Once the $160 million hospital opens, Children’s expects to have more than 1,100 team members and 300 faculty, hospital-based, and community physicians as part of its pediatric team in southern Colorado. “I’ve been humbled,” Raymond says, “by the interest of people wanting to align with Children’s Hospital Colorado and practice in Colorado Springs, especially physicians. Pediatric-specialized providers, by and large, are in short supply nationally… The people who are walking up and down the halls, their expertise would blow you away.”
Children’s will continue to maintain the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) at Memorial Central. “What that will ultimately look like, I can’t tell you exactly because we’ll continue to partner with UCHealth to define that,” Raymond says. Also reflecting Children’s continuing partnership with UCHealth is the fact that the new hospital is on Memorial North’s campus. Sharing a campus results in cost savings, Raymond says, but he stresses that the new hospital will have its own, discrete identity and child-focused mission as part of the Children’s Hospital Colorado system.
The reason why having the new hospital and those other specialized services in the Springs is so important, Raymond says, is because research shows kids recover more quickly when they’re closer to home. He points to oncology services as an example; instead of traveling to Denver for multiple days of inpatient infusion treatment, young patients in the Springs can visit the Briargate location’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (which will relocate to the new hospital), go home after their treatments each day, “and play Xbox with their brother, have dinner, sleep in their own bed.”
Having services nearby also places less hardship on parents: less time driving, less time off work. “It’s much more than pediatric care,” Raymond says. “It’s quality of life.”
The new hospital will also be a community asset. “A Top 10 children’s hospital in the nation in Colorado Springs—it just continues to take Colorado Springs along this track of clearly being one of the top cities in the nation,” says Margaret Sabin, president of Children’s southern region.
Some children will still need to travel to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora for “a handful of therapies and procedures,” Raymond says. One example is heart transplants: Only about one such transplant a year originates from southern Colorado, so it makes more sense to do that operation in Aurora with an experienced team, he says. But for follow-up care, the specialists will be here, he adds.
A chief goal of Children’s is to keep kids out of the hospital when possible; that is reflected in the organization’s mission of “Child health. Reimagined. Realized.”
That drive to keep kids healthy and address issues early was a big draw for Sabin, who previously was president and CEO of Penrose–St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs and is a national leader in population health management. She sees collaborations with schools and other entities as a path to potentially making the Springs “the healthiest place in the world for children.”
“We all know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Sabin says. It has been wonderful, she says, “to join a team that’s thinking this way and a community that’s saying, ‘Me too.’”
When Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs opens later this spring, it will mark a medical milestone for the region.