Despite gloomy economy, Denver hospitals booming |

Despite gloomy economy, Denver hospitals booming

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DENVER – Hospitals around Denver are booming in the bad economy, with several on an expansion spree worth at least $2 billion even as the ailing economy trims growth in other industries.

At least five hospitals in and around Denver are expanding or replacing old facilities. They’re adding beds, new treatment procedures and modernizing old equipment.

Fueling the trend are low interest rates and increased health insurance coverage expected because of the new health care law. Hospitals are also scrambling to meet rising demand caused by population growth, The Denver Post reports.

“Hospitals are trying to anticipate what will be needed and what demographics will drive it. Time frames are so extended in health care. You can’t do it quickly,” Steven Summer, president and chief executive of the Colorado Hospital Association, told the newspaper.

Through wise investments and planning, some Denver-area hospitals appear to be thriving.

University of Colorado Hospital is so flush with cash that it plans to build its $420 million expansion without debt. Children’s Hospital could pay cash for its entire $228 million addition but is borrowing $60 million to take advantage of low interest rates and to preserve its endowment, hospital officials said.

Demand has spiked at both hospitals since they moved to the former Fitzsimons campus in Aurora a few years ago. Both borrowed heavily to build their new facilities.

Other hospitals expanding around Denver:

n Exempla St. Joseph in downtown Denver plans to build a $600 million replacement building just west of its current location.

n St. Anthony Central in west Denver will move to a new $435 million facility in Lakewood near the Federal Center in mid-2011. When St. Anthony Hospital opens, it will have much more room and a modern facility to replace its 118-year-old building, said chief executive Peter Makowski.

n Exempla Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge opened the first phase of a $225 million expansion in June that will add 295,000 square feet. The remainder of the five-story North Pavilion will open in stages over the next year.

n HealthOne, a joint venture of health giant HCA Inc. and the nonprofit Colorado Health Foundation, is set to open its new Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s. The $128 million, 160,000-square-foot building expands and enhances Presbyterian’s ability to provide pediatric and neonatal intensive-care services.

The thriving hospitals are good for Denver’s economy. According to The Post, hospitals employ roughly 40,000 workers in the Denver metro area and countless more in indirect employment.

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