$10M veterans outpatient clinic to be built at Fillmore and Centennial

       A new medical facility that will more than double the outpatient space for area veterans will be built at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard, with a planned opening in the fall of 2014.
       In a press release last week, area U.S. Represen-tative Doug Lamborn announced Congressional authorization for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to build the $10 million, 80,000-square-foot Colorado Springs Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
       “After years of hard work, by many different people, I am pleased that the veterans of Southern Colorado will be getting an even better local medical facility than they had before,” he said in the release. “When combined with the surgical services available at the Air Force Academy, this new clinic ensures that veterans in our community can get a more complete package of medical care in Colorado Springs.”
       The site will be on 18 vacant acres beside the currently closed and dead-ended extension of Centennial Boulevard south of Fillmore Street. It's part of the 45-acre site that Colorado Springs Health Partners (CSHP) bought, graded, built a road on and, for several years, planned to use for a medical campus. But CSHP could not come up with a viable plan and has since moved to a building at Union and Fillmore.
       The two current Springs outpatient VA clinics, at 25 N. Spruce St. and 320 E. Fontanero Street (Suite 200) have just 36,000 square feet between them, according to Jordan Schupbach, public affairs officer for the VA's Eastern Colorado Division.
       “We're certainly at a place where we need more room,” he said. “But we'll also be dramatically increasing the services.”
       Dale Ander-son, the military liaison for Lamborn's office, said veterans will especially appreciate the full radiology suite (“they won't have to go Denver for MRI or cat scans anymore”), a bigger lab (meaning fewer tests having to be sent elsewhere for analysis), expanded mental health care and - both new - a pharmacy and dental component.
       “Fewer veterans will have to drive to Denver,” he said. “Veterans down here have been waiting a long time for that to happen.”
       Before construction can start, an environmental study must be completed. Anderson said that should occur by early June, followed by a 30-day public comment period.
       The project can then be put out to bid for developers, Anderson said.
       With the expanded space and offerings, the number of unique patients in the Springs is slated to rise from 13,470 to 18,000 a year when the new clinic opens, Schupbach said.
       The current clinics are both currently “overloaded,” Anderson said.
       Having 18 acres in all leaves the possibility of adding onto the new facility in the future, in case it too starts getting crowded. The plan is to assess the area's population growth in 2018, Anderson said.
       The $10 million cost is being paid out of the VA's budget, so no special appropriations from Congress were required, Anderson pointed out.
       In a complicated process, a property developer will buy the site and lease it to the VA for 20 years, he said.
       The location was considered ideal because of the easy access from the interstate and up Ute Pass, Anderson said. Also, it's “a great piece of ground,” he said. “It's got a 360-degree view.”
       The clinic will be open to all veterans, Schupbach confirmed. For questions of individual eligibility, he provided a phone number: 327-5660.

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