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Colo. hospital begins move to upscale Aurora campus

DENVER Movers transported hospital equipment and ambulances bused six transplant patients Thursday to the new University of Colorado Hospital - a place that feels, at first, more like an upscale hotel than a medical center.

The hospital's inpatient-care building at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora sports a lavish landscape of flower beds leading to a lobby replete with leather couches, overstuffed chairs and a freestanding fireplace.

The hospital feel comes through, however, when roaming the hallways with their speckled carpets and beige walls accented by pastels of green and pink.

Hospital personnel began their three-day push Thursday from the old hospital campus at East Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard to the new location on the old Fitzsimons military base near East Colfax Avenue and Interstate 225. They expect to finish moving all 150 patients by Sunday to the new, 396-bed facility.

"It was 45 years at Colorado and Ninth. It was kind of like growing up in one place and then moving to another," said Bruce Schroffel, hospital president and chief executive.

Moving costs are pegged at $7.4 million.

But the Colorado Boulevard facility will not be closed down until the university's faculty moves into its new offices in October.

Hospital administrators lauded the new complex as the most significant boost to the metro area's economy since the construction of Denver International Airport, which opened in 1995.

The expansion could, however, clog the roadways, as $40 million needed to add a lane and two exits for the hospital to I-225 has not been secured. The hospital has pledged $3 million toward the project and is looking to the state and federal governments to supply the rest, Schroffel said.

Schroffel said that because many nurses and doctors get to work at 6:30 a.m., "it'll add traffic but not necessarily at peak times."

He said that the exits will be constructed in no less than three years and that the hospital is pushing the Regional Transportation District to send buses to the new complex. RTD is not sure there is enough need to warrant a new bus route.

By the end of the week, ambulances will have logged about 15,000 miles hauling patients in 6.2-mile segments from the old buildings to the new ones.

The state-of-the-art campus, which Schroffel called the most advanced in the United States, was principally funded by more than $91 million from the Anschutz Foundation, led by Denver financier Philip Anschutz.

And it shows: The Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion is attached to the Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion, which is right next to the Anschutz Centers for Advanced Medicine and the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion. Much of the hospital's walls are decorated with reproductions of paintings from Anschutz's art collection.

Hospital personnel spent about two years planning for the move to ensure a safe transfer for all the patients.

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