Hospital development skips Southeast

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An early rendering shows UCHealth’s Eastview Medical Center, an ambulatory surgery center scheduled to open in September 2023.

Courtesy UCHealth

UCHealth is adding a 123,000-square-foot outpatient facility to its Colorado Springs system, at Powers Boulevard and South Carefree Circle. Centura Health is building its third Colorado Springs hospital campus at Interstate 25 and Interquest Parkway.

These add to a constellation of hospitals and health care facilities revolving around the central and northern parts of the city. The hospitals, though, do not extend into Southeast Colorado Springs, despite the fact it’s the most underserved part of town when it comes to health care.

When UCHealth’s new outpatient facility — Eastview Medical Center — opens in September 2023, it will help serve Southeast residents, who now primarily use Memorial Hospital Central when they need care, said Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of UCHealth’s Southern Colorado Region.

But Cory Arcarese, health care advocate and former owner of Value Care Health Clinic, questions why neither health system has plans to build a hospital in Southeast Colorado Springs.

Their reasoning is revenue-driven, Arcarese believes, along with “cultural unawareness.”

“It would not be as profitable as other places in the city, … but even a small, 20-bed hospital would make such a difference,” she said.

Yuhas said he hears that question a lot.

“I know everybody would like to have a hospital there, but adding a hospital in Southeast … would just increase the cost of care to the state and the community by bearing the burden of another high-cost facility,” he said.

The answer, he said, “is creating more lower-cost access points” such as primary and specialty care, urgent care and other outpatient services.

UCHealth is concentrating on organically building inpatient capacity at its current facilities; completing the new outpatient facility, which will serve east Colorado Springs and eastern El Paso County; and opening more affordable outpatient sites, including in the Southeast, where services will be expanded in Fountain (more on that in a moment).

Bill Lueck, director of operations in new development for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services (Centura’s division for Colorado Springs), mentioned Centura’s plans to renovate Penrose Hospital, which is Downtown; to expand St. Francis Hospital in the city’s northeast; and to complete the new hospital on Interquest, in the north. Lueck said Centura is “evaluating all of our options but see these current growth areas as where we can best suit the community’s needs.” Lueck did not outline any plans for Centura to create new or expanded facilities anywhere in Southeast.

He did not directly answer the question of the possible need for a new hospital in Southeast but said through Centura’s “triumvirate of acute-care facilities [in the city’s center, north and northeast] we’re excited about our ability to serve the whole community now and well into the future.”


UCHealth Eastview Medical Center will join a system that includes Memorial Central, Memorial North, Grandview Hospital, and Pikes Peak Regional Hospital in Woodland Park.

Eastview is an ambulatory surgery center with six ORs, surrounded by medical and surgical specialty clinics including outpatient imaging, rehab, breast imaging, orthopedics, urology, women’s care, breast surgery, neurology and ENT.

“These outpatient services are being positioned to help support the demands and needs across eastern and southeast [Colorado Springs],” Yuhas said.

UCHealth is planning to add 40 medical-surgical beds at Memorial Central in an expansion to be completed in winter 2023, Yuhas said.

Memorial North is adding 16 labor and delivery and postpartum beds.

“We are the busiest maternity program in the state,” Yuhas said. “Our OB program grew 4 percent this past year; we deliver about 5,500 babies a year, most of them at Memorial Hospital North.”

UCHealth Interquest Medical Center at Interquest and Voyager parkways will open in March 2023, with orthopedic and primary care clinics and lab, rehab and imaging services.

In addition, three new primary care locations are planned in northern Colorado Springs, Black Forest and Fountain.

“We’re getting ready to expand our services offering in Fountain, where today we have our busiest freestanding emergency department,” he said. Besides primary care services, UCHealth will activate a full suite of imaging services including MRI, CT, X-ray and ultrasound that will serve residents of Southeast Colorado Springs as well as patients in Fountain, Security and Widefield.

UCHealth already has an urgent care facility in Southeast Colorado Springs.

Circle Square Urgent Care at 2727 Janitell Road, next to Harrison High School, “is the busiest urgent care center in the entire state — it’s actually busier than most hospital emergency departments,” Yuhas said.

“We are actively looking at ways to expand our outpatient and ambulatory footprint so that we can be a part of the solution of reducing the cost of care and giving people more convenience,” he said.

Yuhas said outpatient visits across all UCHealth Colorado Springs facilities were up 9.4 percent in the fiscal year ended June 30, compared with the previous year.

“We continue to be the largest private-sector employer in southern Colorado,” he said. “We grew 9 percent in positions filled this last year, to just under 7,000 employees.”


The $170 million St. Francis Hospital-Interquest is expected to open in July 2023 and will specialize in orthopedic and spine care. It will have 72 inpatient and critical-care beds, a 14-bed, full-service emergency department, 10 ORs and 30 beds for surgical preparation and recovery.

Designed as a “hospital of the future,” it will feature smart technology including screens and apps that patients will use to control everything from the window shades and temperature in their rooms to food orders.

“We will have extremely robust telemedicine capabilities,” Lueck said. Caregivers will be able to consult with other providers through two-way devices in the ORs.

“We also think this technologically advanced workspace will attract providers to the region,” he said.

St. Francis-Interquest will directly employ about 200 people, about 40 percent of whom will be transferred from existing Centura locations. Another 200 people, including private-practice physicians and contractors, will be working at the hospital, bringing total staff to about 400.

Centura will use a Bluetooth and wifi-enabled system throughout the hospital “that will allow us to track both people and things, so we will know where our caregivers are, where our patients are, where our supplies are,” Lueck said. “That will help us be more efficient in the use of these people and things.”

“Even a small, 20-bed hospital would make such a difference.”

— Cory Arcarese

Lueck said construction on the four-story building is mostly complete on the outside. Crews are working to complete the 10 ORs on the fourth floor and the critical-care beds on the third floor. Public spaces including the chapel and lobby, food service and the emergency department will be the last to be finished.

“We expect a certificate of occupancy April 20,” Lueck said.

Centura is completing a 60-bed expansion at St. Francis Hospital on Woodmen Road that will bring the facility to 347 beds.

“We feel we are very well positioned at St. Francis Hospital to cover growth out east and to the north,” Lueck said.

Centura also is planning renovations at Penrose Hospital. The renovations are still in the planning stages but will involve modernizing the facility and possibly expanding some services.

“Our ED in particular is one area we’d like to see expanded, but those plans are very preliminary,” Lueck said.

Centura also operates several ambulatory and acute-care sites, rehab and imaging centers, and primary and specialty care practices, including an urgent care clinic in Fountain. Overall, Centura employs about 4,000 people in Colorado Springs.


The health care landscape in Southeast Colorado Springs has improved since Arcarese founded and operated Value Care Health Clinic in 2013, when Value Care was the only facility that offered affordable primary care.

Matthews-Vu Medical Group took over the clinic in 2019 and moved it from the original location on South Academy Boulevard to larger quarters at 1550 Pulsar Drive.

Besides UCHealth’s urgent care clinic, Peak Vista Community Health Centers operates a busy clinic on Jet Wing Drive; Concentra Urgent Care has a facility on South Academy Boulevard; Diversus Health’s two centers provide mental health, counseling and addiction services; and SET Family Medical Clinic, which is associated with Centura, serves low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients.

“These people have made commitments, but a hospital is needed,” Arcarese said. “I think traditionally these hospitals make their decisions on where are we growing and where are the people that are paying and have the higher insurance.”

She acknowledges that a hospital would be extremely expensive to build, “but their investment would be very worthwhile,” she said. “It would have a significant impact for a lot of people, especially if there’s an emphasis on outreach and education.”

The Latino population in Southeast Colorado Springs and El Paso County is particularly underserved, she said. While many people in that community have insurance, “they may not have the education, culturally, to do preventive medicine. People are naïve about such things as annual wellness checks. And you’d need a bilingual staff.

“Undertaking a hospital in Southeast would require a lot of cultural awareness,” she said, “but they could make it work financially.”

Creating even a small hospital, like UCHealth’s 30-bed Grandview, requires a huge amount of infrastructure, Yuhas said.

“It’s not just building beds; you’ve got ORs and labs and rehab and pharmacy, and all these ancillary services that go into building a footprint of a hospital,” he said.

Besides being extremely complex and costly to build, “it would erode and compete with the services at Memorial Hospital Central and pass on those costs to the consumer and the payers,” Yuhas said.

“The answer is trying to figure out how we care better for this community in more locations closer to home at a lower cost,” he said.

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