Sky Ridge kicks off massive expansion

Project will add beds, parking, women’s services, operating suites

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Two months shy of its 10th birthday, Sky Ridge Medical Center is undergoing its fourth expansion.

This one — a $117 million project that will add 90 beds, a women’s center, medical office building, four operating suites and a parking garage by late 2014 — is by far its largest.

Sky Ridge kicked off the massive expansion during a June 26 morning ceremony in a hospital parking lot that soon will be part of the construction site.

Officials from Lone Tree and Douglas County, including state Rep. Frank McNulty and his Sky Ridge-born daughter Victoria, watched as dozens of colorful balloons soared into the air and past a construction crane to mark the project’s official start. Several of them and key medical staff also spoke during the event, many crediting the hospital for much of south suburban Denver’s robust economic health.

“When we sold the land, it was in fact the key piece to launch RidgeGate from cows to people,” said Keith Simon, RidgeGate’s director of development. “There’s no doubt RidgeGate is really the key catalyst to development.”

“It has been and will continue to be the foundation of the economic engine here in Lone Tree,” Mayor Jim Gunning said, noting the subsequent addition of Lone Tree’s Kaiser Permanente and the University of Colorado medical facilities. “With that of course comes jobs, very stable jobs.”

SkyRidge CEO Maureen Tarrant verified Gunning’s contention, noting that Sky Ridge jobs pay an average of $33 an hour.

Sky Ridge’s reputation extends far beyond Lone Tree, however, said chief of cardiology Dr. Barry Molk.

“It’s nationally recognized. It’s nationally envied,” he said, with high-quality physicians and equipment that “have allowed us to work at the highest level of sophistication.”

Dr. Will Choi recently visited a 3,000-bed hospital in Korea and said the 185-bed Sky Ridge performs more spine surgeries.

“We’re definitely on a global scale in terms of spine care at Sky Ridge,” he said.

More than 28,000 babies have been born at Sky Ridge since its August 2003 opening. To help meet that continuing demand, the project will expand the center’s neonatal intensive care unit, add labor and delivery and post-partum rooms and advance its level of care to include infants as young as 24 weeks.

Sky Ridge recently earned an “A” from the Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit that measures and reports hospital performance. It also is ranked in the 94th percentile nationally for quality and service based on an assessment by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sky Ridge also has a reputation for aesthetics, landing in 2012 on a list of the nation’s 20 most beautiful hospitals.

The expansion will expand the current footprint by about one-third, adding more than 350 new jobs at completion, and about 400 jobs during construction. Sky Ridge now employs more than 1,100 people, with 1,300 physicians on staff.