The Nov. 8 opening of UCHealth’s Boulder Health Center marked a milestone of both continuity and change.
The move from the Family Medicine Clinic at 350 Broadway to the new center at 5495 Arapahoe Avenue covers only about 5 miles. There are reminders of the Broadway facility, from the many familiar faces providing care to paintings by Lonnie Granston, MD, who with Family Medicine colleague Corydon Sperry, MD, provided important physician leadership for the move.
But at 36,000 square feet, the new building is much larger than its predecessor. It includes upgrades, such as separate space for echocardiograms and cardiac stress testing; an expanded physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation space; an additional soundproof room for hearing tests; a dedicated area for the center’s anticoagulation nurse; expanded lab facilities; a radiology suite with a dedicated waiting area; and redesigned, better-lit procedure rooms in the Family Medicine Clinic.
The 5-mile move also reflects a long-term view of Boulder’s future. “From a population and demographic perspective, the growth is on the eastern edge of Boulder,” Sperry said. He acknowledged that the new location could be a bit less convenient for patients who work for and around the University of Colorado, but added that the central Boulder practice offered no expansion opportunities because new buildings couldn’t be zoned medically.
The new center includes several specialty practices housed in the Broadway location, but adds Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, which had been in separate facilities. The Center for Nurse Midwifery plans to open a practice in January.
A new retail optical store also occupies the first floor, as does a full-service outpatient pharmacy, complete with over-the-counter medications patients can select from open shelves. Energy bars and chocolate will soon be available, said Pharmacy Manager Brian Bennett, PharmD, a senior clinical instructor with the CU School of Pharmacy. He noted that the pharmacy is the only one in Boulder that is part of the CU Exclusive Health Plan network.
Bennett said he’s enjoying the new space, which includes a consulting room for patients who have questions about their medications. He also appreciates the natural light, a non-existent amenity in the basement of the Broadway building, where the pharmacy formerly resided.
“I’m loving the windows,” Bennett said.
The Arapahoe facility breaks new clinical ground with the first off-site outpatient clinic offered by the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR). Among other outpatient services, the clinic will provide addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine care from Ruth Huhn, MD, and Patricia Pade, MD, respectively, as well as addiction therapy from Brie Neil, a licensed professional counselor.
CeDAR’s clinic in Boulder will also provide “collegiate recovery” services to students dealing with substance use disorders, said Jay Voigt, MEd, LPC, outpatient manager for CeDAR’s behavioral health service line. Voigt said CeDAR began offering the care in response to requests for help from Wardenburg Health Services, the primary care provider for CU Boulder students.
The new CeDAR clinic is one of several pieces in an evolving system aimed at integrating primary and behavioral health care and treatment for addiction. Huhn said she will provide general psychiatric care for depression and mood disorders, but she is also able to prescribe medication-assisted therapies to treat addiction. She said she looks forward to consulting and collaborating with Family Medicine physicians in the clinic, although the details of how best to do that still have to be worked out.
“We want to be integrated in the Boulder clinic rather than simply co-located,” Voigt said. “Having a strong foothold is important to us and we want to work together to find the best way to treat patients and improve their health.”
Ready for redesign
Meanwhile, Family Medicine, which is on the second floor of the new building, will be redesigning its care model, following the lead of practices at UCHealth Metro Denver and Northern Colorado in adopting the Primary Care Practice Redesign Model, said Anne Donovan, practice manager for the Boulder Health Center.
The approach centers on team-based care, with medical assistants (MAs) playing a key role in taking on greater patient care responsibilities, thereby freeing up physicians to devote more time to direct clinical care.
Donovan said the Boulder Health Center will be in a “second wave” of clinics moving to the new model, allowing some time to get settled in the new facility. But the clinic was configured with the practice redesign in mind. It has four “pods,” or centralized areas, serving six rooms for exams, treatments and consultations. The compact design encourages “team-based care” delivered by two physicians, five MAs, a psychologist and a pharmacist, Donovan said.
“We are bringing the care team together in a new way that we believe will be a win for patients, medical assistants and physicians,” she said. Donovan noted that the entire staff from Family Medicine made the move from the Broadway facility intact.
Ready for rehab
The center’s layout also puts Family Medicine in close proximity to a 4,200-square-foot space for physical, occupational and hand therapy. It’s about 60 percent larger than the space in the Broadway clinic and includes, among other upgrades, new equipment for Pilates, parallel bars for neuro and amputee patients, and two additional private treatment rooms, said Hillary Duffy, MPT, practice manager for Outpatient Rehabilitation at UCH.
Like the rest of the new center, the therapy and rehabilitation space aims for airiness, said Director of Rehabilitative Services Matt Gallagher, PT, DPT, MBA. “The Boulder facility had an outdated layout,” he said. “We now have more open space, which will encourage collaboration between the therapists.”
Gallagher said he anticipates growth for the practice. “We see the Boulder market as health conscious and active and looking to tap into wellness and therapy to continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle,” he said.
The volume base is well-established. Duffy said the practice currently handles about 8,000 visits a year and has the potential for 10,000 if demand dictates it. It will hit the ground running at the new center. The morning before the opening, Chad Kittles, PT, Boulder’s supervisor of Rehab Services, pulled up the first day’s schedule on his computer. Appointments ran steadily from 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
As the preparations for the next day’s opening bustled around her, Donovan spoke with enthusiasm about the opportunities that lie ahead for the new center.
“The culture of this facility and the collegiality between providers give us the potential to make this a special environment,” she said. “The energy that I have felt from the various department heads has been amazing in rolling up their sleeves and voicing their opinions.”
“We’ve established a strong collaborative relationship in Family Medicine with many different specialists,” Sperry added. “In this new space, we have more opportunities for an even greater presence.”
Practices in the Boulder Health Center
The following practices comprising Boulder Specialists have taken up residence in the new Boulder Health Center:
- Family Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Occupational Therapy and Hand Therapy
- Otolaryngology (ENT)
- Physical Therapy
- Rehabilitation Medicine/Neurology
The Center for Nurse Midwifery is slated to open a practice in the center in January. The Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation opened its outpatient clinic there Nov. 8.