Centura Health says that it will likely open one or more neighborhood health centers in Boulder County, similar to this Weld County facility in Dacono. It is close to completing its purchase of Longmont United Hospital as well. Courtesy Centura Health

Centura’s push into Boulder County to grow

LONGMONT — Centura Health’s pending acquisition of Longmont United Hospital is likely just the beginning of a deeper push into Boulder County for the health-care system.

A Centura official said recently that plans also would come to light within the next six months or so for neighborhood health centers serving the county. At least one would be located in Boulder County specifically, although the exact location is unknown so far.

Sharon Burnette, group director of marketing and communications for Centura, said it’s difficult to tell exactly what those plans look like until the closure of the LUH transaction, which she said is expected sometime around early June.

“At this point, we just want to get through the next 30 days,” Burnette said.

Burnette said everything still is on track for the LUH acquisition, with the two sides working through final details.

“We don’t anticipate any problems at all,” Burnette said. “We just still don’t have final approval yet.”

Centura’s only presence in Boulder County so far has been Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville. The rapid push by Centura to open neighborhood health centers is part of the system’s larger Colorado Health Neighborhoods initiative to bring more access points closer to patients, particularly for primary care.

Peter Powers, Longmont United’s vice president for strategic planning and operations, said LUH officials do anticipate a neighborhood health center in Longmont at some point.

“The neighborhood health centers underscore the importance of access to primary care,” Powers said.

Centura, a joint venture of Catholic Health Initiatives and Adventist Health, which has 15 hospitals in Colorado and western Kansas, has been aggressive in opening the neighborhood health centers. An 11,000-square-foot facility opened in Dacono in October in between openings of centers in Westminster and Thornton last year. Another, in Arvada, opened May 9, and two more in Golden and Lakewood are slated for June openings.

The neighborhood health centers vary in size and scope of services offered depending on the specific needs of each community, Burnette said. Those services can include primary care, specialty providers, wellness and health-related classes, diagnostic imaging and 24-hour emergency rooms.

While the neighborhood health center on Church Ranch Boulevard in Westminster is 47,000 square feet and includes a freestanding ER, the Dacono model is more typical.

The Dacono center includes primary care, women’s care services, lab services and imaging. Burnette said there are also plans to rotate specialists to the site on certain days of the week based on needs. The center does not feature urgent care, so appointments must be made. But Burnette said the clinic does offer same-day appointments and more flexible hours, with some late evening and Saturday hours.

The standard 11,000-square-foot model that Centura is building at many of its sites generally includes 10 to 12 employees. The size of those centers grows to about 22,000 square feet if they include a freestanding ER as does the new location in Arvada.

Burnette said she couldn’t speculate on whether a future neighborhood health center in Boulder County might include a freestanding ER or how big it would be.

“I think the real message is we’ll explore all markets to determine what the need is to greater access points,” Burnette said.

Centura’s acquisition of LUH and the possibility of a neighborhood health center are parts of what has turned into a health-care arms race of sorts in the 90,000-person community of Longmont.

UCHealth last month submitted preliminary plans to the city for a 172,000-square-foot hospital with 50 to 75 beds, on which it hopes to break ground this year. Late last year, UCHealth also purchased the Longmont Clinic, just across Mountain View Avenue from LUH. And UCHealth also recently inked a deal to acquire a majority stake in Texas-based Adeptus Health’s First Choice Emergency Rooms in Colorado. One of these is planned for the intersection of Main Street and 21st Avenue in Longmont.

LUH officials expressed concerns at the time UCHealth announced its plans to build a Longmont hospital that doing so seemed to be a counterintuitive duplication of services in Boulder County, which also has hospitals in Boulder, Lafayette and Louisville. But LUH officials said then – and Burnette maintained recently – that UCHealth’s ambitious plans pose no threat to Centura’s acquisition of LUH.

“For us it is business as usual,” Burnette said, “and we will continue to move forward with this arrangement.”

For LUH, the benefits of being part of Centura would be many, Powers said. Those include economies of scale that come with being part of a larger system, giving LUH access to more sophisticated technology such as Centura’s electronic medical records system. Powers said he also expects that certain services would be added as a result of the acquisition, but said such specifics haven’t yet been worked out.

He did add that the Centura acquisition should bring costs down for LUH patients.

“Centura has proven that they are a very high-quality, low-cost provider,” Powers said. “The value that Centura is able to deliver was a strong point for us. In the future, I think the high-cost systems will have problems competing because they will be shut out of networks.”

One thing that likely wouldn’t change, Powers said, is LUH’s service area. Right now that includes Longmont and the “Tri-Towns” area of Frederick, Firestone and Dacono. It also reaches into Berthoud and Loveland on a smaller scale.

“Our service area now wouldn’t change,” Powers said. “We would just be hooked into a much larger system.”

Joshua Lindenstein can be reached at 303-630-1943, 970-416-7343 or jlindenstein@bizwestmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joshlindenstein.

LONGMONT — Centura Health’s pending acquisition of Longmont United Hospital is likely just the beginning of a deeper push into Boulder County for the health-care system.

A Centura official said recently that plans also would come to light within the next six months or so for neighborhood health centers serving the county. At least one would be located in Boulder County specifically, although the exact location is unknown so far.

Sharon Burnette, group director of marketing and communications for Centura, said it’s difficult to tell exactly what those plans look like until the closure of the LUH transaction, which she said is expected sometime around early June.

“At this point, we just want to get through the next 30 days,” Burnette said.

Burnette said everything still is on track for the LUH acquisition, with the two sides working through final details.

“We don’t anticipate any problems at all,” Burnette said. “We just still don’t have final approval yet.”

Centura’s only presence in Boulder County so far has been Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville. The rapid push by Centura to open neighborhood health centers is part of the system’s larger Colorado Health Neighborhoods initiative to bring more access points closer to patients, particularly for primary care.

Peter Powers, Longmont United’s vice president for strategic planning and operations, said LUH officials do anticipate a neighborhood health center in Longmont at some point.

“The neighborhood health centers underscore the importance of access to primary care,” Powers said.

Centura, a joint venture of Catholic Health Initiatives and Adventist Health, which has 15 hospitals…