Children’s Hospital breaks ground in Ranch

Children's Colorado Ambassadors Christina Fischer, 16, left, and Olivia Smith, 10, hold their shovels high alongside Children's Hospital Colorado president and CEO Jim Shmerling at the May 23 groundbreaking for the hospital in Highlands Ranch. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
An artist rendering shows what the South Campus of Children's Hospital will look like once it is completed in the winter of 2013. The hospital is being built at the northwest corner of Lucent and Plaza in Highlands Ranch by Saunders Construction Inc. of Centennial. Courtesy photo
Getting ready to get dirty at the May 23 groundbreaking for Children's Hospital Colorado in Highlands Ranch are from left, Leonard Dryer Jr., Chief Financial Officer for Children's, Scott Bonner, Vice President of Health Care Service for Saunders Construction Inc., Mike Allen, Superintendent for Saunders, Jena Hausman, Chief Operating Officer for Children's, and Mark Hoover, Sales Team, Wagner Rents. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
Children's Hospital CEO and president Jim Shmerling, fourth from left, is joined by hospital staff, ambassadors and community leaders for the ceremonial groundbreaking May 23 of the South Campus of the Children's Hospital at the northwest corner of Lucent and Plaza in Highlands Ranch. The hospital is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
Children's Colorado Ambassador Christina Fischer, 16, stands next to an artist rendering of the South Campus of Children's Hospital. Ground was broken May 23 at the northwest corner of Lucent and Plaza for the project. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
Children's Hospital CEO and president Jim Shmerling, fourth from left, is joined by hospital staff, ambassadors and community leaders for the ceremonial groundbreaking May 23 of the South Campus of the Children's Hospital at the northwest corner of Lucent and Plaza in Highlands Ranch. The hospital is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
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Representatives from Children’s Hospital Colorado, former patients and community leaders dug their ceremonial plastic shovels into the dirt May 23 in Highlands Ranch.

The groundbreaking came roughly two months ahead of schedule on the hospital’s $100 million, 175,000-square-foot South Campus at the northwest corner of Lucent Boulevard and Plaza Drive, just south of C-470.

“What we see here now is a piece of dirt, what you are going to see here in less than two years is a tremendous facility,” said Bob Hottman, chair of the hospital’s board of directors. “The amount of services we are going to bring and the amount of resources we are going to bring to this community is just phenomenal.”

Services planned for the four-story hospital include inpatient and outpatient services, a 24/7 urgent care with 22 beds, a full diagnostic imaging center, a lab, a number of specialty clinics, a sports medicine clinic complete with a physical therapy gym, and four operating rooms for surgery.

The project, which was awarded to Saunders Construction Inc. of Centennial, is expected to take about 18 months to complete. Once the campus is open, Children’s will shut down two specialty satellite clinics in Littleton and two in Centennial. The 125 employees who currently work at those locations will be relocated to the Highlands Ranch campus, where they will be joined by approximately 175 new hires.

“We are going to bring all those services together from all those locations to one convenient location right here in Highlands Ranch,” said Jim Shmerling, president and CEO of Children’s. “There are a number of positives that come from that. To have services, that are sort of freestanding, become a part of a bigger campus, it means staff has access to more support, they can consult with one another, and the opportunity for them to work more closely together to improve patient care makes it more efficient for them and makes it more convenient for families.”

The groundbreaking, complete with bulldozers and a ceremonial sandbox where the initial dirt was pulled from, was attended by an overflowing crowd of representatives from throughout the community, including former patients young and old.

Connie Cowles-Biederbeck, an employee of Centennial Water & Sanitation District, who has been in the Highlands Ranch area since 1979, was born with congenital mitral stenosis in 1957. After a successful surgery at age 3 she spent nearly every month of her childhood going in for checkups at the Denver Children’s.

“It’s really touched me that they are coming here,” she said. “They do such amazing work and without them I wouldn’t be here for a number of reasons … and now we’ll have this facility right in our backyard for everyone who lives on the south end. It’s truly amazing.”

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