SCL Health starts work on new Lutheran Medical Center near Denver

September 1, 2021

SCL Health is building a $650 million replacement hospital for its Lutheran Medical Center in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge.

The system broke ground on the project on June 9. The hospital is expected to be in full operation in 2024. The new site of about 28 acres is on Interstate 70 about 3½ miles west of the current hospital.

An architect’s rendering shows the new Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Plans call for the replacement hospital being built by SCL Health to be in full operation in 2024.

This project addresses the growing need for high-quality health care in Jefferson County, Colorado, and the surrounding communities, SCL Health said in a release about the new hospital. The population of the county grew 9% from 2010 to 2019, census data shows.

"This replacement hospital will meet the demand for a more flexible and patient-centered facility that delivers high-quality, advanced care more efficiently," said Lydia Jumonville, SCL Health president and chief executive.

The medical center now is licensed for 338 beds. The new hospital will have about 210 beds, in line with actual use, SCL Health said.

Most patient rooms will have the ability to be converted to intensive care unit standards if needed. The hospital's design will maximize workplace efficiencies, including through the use of decentralized nursing pods to put nurses closer to the bedside. Most areas will have floor-to-ceiling glass, allowing for more natural light.

With 2,000 staffers, Lutheran Medical Center is the largest employer in Wheat Ridge.

Lutheran Medical Center has been in its current location for more than 100 years. It has evolved from a tuberculosis sanitarium into an acute care hospital with a Level II trauma designation, a stroke center and a neuroscience critical care unit.

Once the replacement hospital is open, Lutheran Medical Center will stop acute hospital operations at its current site, SCL Health said. Lutheran Hospice will remain at that location. The system expects the remaining property to be sold and developed, guided by the city of Wheat Ridge's master planning process.

Lutheran Medical Center's behavioral health program will continue, likely in a new location.

"The replacement hospital will expand access to emergency and critical care for families in Jefferson County and the West Denver suburbs," said Grant Wicklund, Lutheran Medical Center president. "We will elevate care in our community, with a state-of-the-art medical facility to meet the health care needs for the next 100 years."

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