Penrose expansion, renovation near completion

The hybrid operating room and cardiac ICU at Penrose Hospital are projected to open this month.

The hybrid operating room and cardiac ICU at Penrose Hospital are projected to open this month.

Three expansion and renovation projects totaling $44 million will be completed this summer at Penrose Hospital, including a new hybrid operating room, an orthopedics center and an expanded cancer center.

“Part of our vision is to serve the community on a larger scale,” said Margaret Sabin, CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. “We felt the community was demanding that.”

The hybrid operating room, scheduled to open this month, is the first of its kind in southern Colorado, and perhaps even the state, according to Sabin.

“The hybrid operating room is something we’re pretty spectacularly excited about,” she said, adding it will allow doctors to perform a greater variety of surgical procedures. “We will have more patients able to benefit from this technology. Not just from Colorado Springs, but from the greater geographical footprint we serve. We’ll pull people to Colorado Springs from all over the state and, in some cases, outside the state.”

The hybrid operating room will be equipped to handle minimally invasive procedures, including bypass surgeries, stent placement, aneurysm repairs and valve replacements.

“It promotes a multidisciplinary approach to surgeries so cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are in the same room at the same time,” Sabin said. “Usually the cardiac surgeon does surgery and the cardiologist will do non-invasive procedures elsewhere. Now they’ll be working together in these procedures.”

Sabin said that multidisciplinary approach applies to neuro and vascular surgeries as well.

Chris Valentine, Penrose-St. Francis director of marketing and communications, said that historically, surgeries have required big incisions in order for surgeons to see. New imaging technology means decreasing the need for big incisions.

“Something like a [transcatheter] aortic valve replacement, where heart surgery is performed by using a wire through the leg, is only approved for patients not able to have open-heart surgery,” Valentine said. “If a doctor considers a patient to be too high a risk to receive open-heart surgery and sends them to another hospital, Penrose would be that hospital.

“And the room is still an operating room if the minimally invasive techniques didn’t work.”

Sabin said there are currently 300 patients a year traveling to Denver for procedures that soon will be available here, according to Colorado Hospital Association discharge data.

“We’re losing people from our region and we don’t want to do that,” Sabin said. “If people have to leave to find [care], that’s not good for the local economy. We felt because of the beautiful place we live and our commitment to quality, we can attract top-notch docs. We already have top-notch docs, from Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic. We’re committed to being the tertiary care facility for southern Colorado and even Denver.”

“Our regular ICU is full,” Valentine said. “We wanted a place for cardiovascular ICU patients, so we’re building a wing next to the hybrid operating room with six ICU beds for heart patients. It should open around the same time as the operating room.”

Orthopedic center

Penrose is also set to open its orthopedic center, affiliated with the Penrose–St. Francis Joint and Spine Center.

St. Francis Medical Center was constructed in 2008 with areas set aside for future growth. The sixth-floor build-out is dedicated to orthopedic patient care, Sabin said, explaining that in order to support the project, two additional orthopedic operating rooms will be added.

“It has beautiful views, a gym and two rooms have been expanded to allow for family stays,” Sabin said. “It has a touch of elegance.”

Sabin said the hospital’s orthopedic surgeons provided input and have “designed this place to be something they’ll be proud of and something their patients deserve to be treated in.”

Cancer center

The Penrose-St. Francis cancer program is continuing to grow, Sabin said, resulting in the addition of a new linear accelerator used for radiation oncology and an expansion including additional office space for Penrose Cancer Center staff. A bridge is also being constructed to connect the hospital to the Penrose Pavilion, where a number of cancer services are housed, Valentine said.

“We’re very cognizant of how our partnership with Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers has fueled our growth,” Sabin said, adding, “There’s a little gap in [funding] for this project, which is focused on patient center design. That’s our lobby and the private patient recovery rooms. Sometimes you have to do things in pieces. There’s not always going to be enough money to go around, but the end product will be beautiful.”  nCSBJ