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Centura Health

Remembering the past, celebrating the future . . .

St. Francis Health Center, formerly St. Francis Hospital, was the first hospital in Colorado Springs. Established in 1887, the hospital began as a treatment clinic for injured railroad workers who were involved in the construction of the Midland Railroad's Colorado Springs to Leadville Line. It was founded by Dr. B. P. Anderson, a physician and surgeon for the Midland Railroad Company, at a time when the railroad was the driving force behind the growth of Colorado Springs and the rest of the west.

Assisting Dr. Anderson in the clinic were four Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration who had traveled west from Lafayette, Indiana. Dr. Anderson became familiar with the nursing skills of the Sisters of St. Francis during the Civil War. Two weeks after the Sisters arrived in Colorado Springs, a construction train derailed near Leadville, Colorado. About 60 of these injured workers were brought to the clinic in Colorado Springs. It became clear to Dr. Anderson and the Sisters that the city needed a larger medical facility to care for not only the workers and their families but also other residents moving into the Colorado Springs area.

Through door-to-door solicitation, the Sisters raised $20,000 to build the city's first hospital on the same site St. Francis Health Center occupies today. The new St. Francis Hospital opened in 1888 and began by treating the critically ill and injured (the area's first emergency/trauma patients) as well as those suffering from cholera, diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis and polio. It was in 1889 that St. Francis opened the first obstetrical unit in the area to complement its services for trauma victims and those suffering with contagious diseases.

The hospital's focus on emergency/trauma care remained one of its primary focuses for 107 years. Among some of the other emergency/trauma-related services established by St. Francis over the years have been: opening of the Langstaff-Brown Medical Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, in 1982; establishment of the Flight for Life Helicopter program in 1983; establishment of the city's first certified Level II Trauma Center and first hospital-owned ambulance services in 1987. The ambulance service was sold to AMR in 1992.

With the decision, in 1994, to relocate trauma services from St. Francis to Penrose Hospital, where all of the major tertiary services of the Penrose-St. Francis system were located, the new St. Francis went back to its roots as a health center with primary emphasis on outpatient surgery, rehabilitation and behavioral health.

Penrose Hospital was founded in 1890 as the Glockner Tuberculosis Sanatorium by Mrs. Albert (Marie Gwynne) Glockner shortly after her husband's death from tuberculosis. Serving as a consultant to Mrs. Glockner, and as the Sanatorium's first superintendent, was Dr. B. P. Anderson who founded St. Francis Hospital. It was in 1893 that Mrs. Glockner, who had previously returned to her family home in Columbus, Ohio, asked the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Ohio, to assume ownership of the Sanatorium. This seemed most fitting to Mrs. Glockner since it was the Sisters of Charity Congregation who had already established hospitals and sanatoriums in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Pueblo, Colorado.

Between 1900 and 1919, Glockner Sanatorium had undergone numerous development projects expanding its services to become a general acute care hospital. To meet the needs of the fast-growing community, the Sisters provided surgical facilities to serve a group of thoracic surgeons when lung removal was first used to arrest tuberculosis. When the first bronchoscopy west of St. Louis was performed, it was performed at the Glockner Sanatorium and Hospital.

It was in 1939, during the jubilee year of the Glockner Sanatorium and Hospital, that plans were announced concerning the selection of the Glockner medical facility as the site for the Penrose Tumor Institute (forerunner of today's Penrose Cancer Center). Spencer Penrose, who earned his fortune in copper mining and real estate development, saw a need for a cancer treatment center in Colorado Springs where people from the Pikes Peak region who were suffering from cancer (like he) could be treated locally with the latest technology.

Mr. Penrose died before his wife, Julie, officially dedicated the Penrose Cancer Center Pavilion in 1941 making the hospital one of the most famous hospitals in the United States offering comprehensive cancer research and diagnosis and the latest in cancer treatment: radiation therapy. In the same year, Mrs. Verner Z. Reed gave the Sisters a major donation to build a new nurses residence addition to the hospital in memory of her daughter, Margery Reed Mayo. The Margery Reed building now serves as a medical office building for Penrose-St. Francis physicians.

In 1947, Mrs. Glockner suggested that the name of the facility be changed to Glockner-Penrose Hospital in recognition of the generous contributions of Spencer and Julie Penrose through the El Pomar Foundation. Twelve years later, in 1959, upon the dedication of the 12-level bed tower addition to the hospital, Mrs. Glockner once again asked that the name of the hospital be changed to Penrose Hospital as a tribute to Julie Penrose who had contributed $3.2 million toward the building project.

Major building projects over the past 40 years have provided new surgery facilities, intensive care units, an outpatient care center, an emergency trauma department, and a new cancer center addition.

Penrose Community Hospital, formerly Colorado Springs Community Hospital, was founded in 1975. In 1978, Charter Medical Group, which owned the small 88-bed hospital located on the plains in northeast Colorado Springs, was looking for a buyer and was approached by Sister Myra James Bradley, then administrator of Penrose Hospital. Knowing the great potential for this little community hospital, Sister Myra James received permission from the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati to purchase the hospital and make it a part of the new Penrose Health System. Penrose Community Hospital specialized in short stay and outpatient medical-surgical care with a string orientation to family-centered services and maternal-child health.  It closed in August 2008 with the opening of the new St. Francis Medical Center.

St. Francis Medical Center opened in August 2008 and is the only full-service hospital in northern Colorado Springs.  The $207 million facility houses 156 patient beds as well as the region's largest Birth Center and a full-service Emergency Department.

Consolidation of Two Catholic Hospital Systems

As a result of the 1987 agreement between the Sisters of St. Francis of Colorado Springs and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Ohio, to consolidate their health care facilities nationwide, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services was officially created in July 1990 bringing the two Catholic Hospital Systems in Colorado Springs together.

It was in mid-December 1995 that the Sisters of Charity Health Services Colorado and Porter Care Adventist Health System formed a nonprofit statewide health system known as Centura Health.

Today, Centura Health is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives (one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the United States) and Adventist Health System.

As a nonprofit, faith-based organization, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and Centura Health invests every dollar we earn into furthering our mission. Centura provides expert compassionate care throughout the state, from Boulder County and the mountain communities, to Metro Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Canon City, and surrounding rural communities.

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