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The Penrose Legacy: Penrose St. Francis


El Pomar Foundation has a rich history with the Penrose-St. Francis Medical system. Much of what the hospital is today can be attributed to Spencer and Julie’s vision and generosity.  Established in 1887, the St. Francis Health Center was the first hospital in Colorado Springs. The hospital, founded by Dr. B.P. Anderson, a physician for the Midland Railroad Company, opened originally to serve injured railroad workers.  After a train derailed near Leadville, Dr. Anderson and the Sisters of St. Francis, that had joined him to care for the workers, decided that the city of Colorado Springs needed a much larger medical facility and raised $20,000 to build the hospital on the site that the current St. Francis Health Center stands today. After the trauma services were relocated to Penrose Hospital in 1994, the facility returned to its original use as a medical health center. 

Founded in 1890 as the Glockner Tuberculosis Sanatorium, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Ohio took ownership of the facility in 1893. Over the years, the hospital continued to add services and in 1939 it was announced that the Glockner Medical Facility would become the site of the Penrose Tumor Institute.  Spencer Penrose saw a need for a cancer facility in Colorado Springs, where residents suffering from cancer could access state of the art treatment locally.  In 1947, the hospital was renamed Glockner-Penrose Hospital to recognize the contribution of Spencer and Julie Penrose through El Pomar Foundation.  After Julie Penrose gave $3.2 million to the addition of a twelve-story tower, the name of the hospital was again changed to honor the Penrose’s generosity.

75 years later, El Pomar continues to support Penrose-St. Francis in its pursuit of excellence in innovation and medical care.  To date, Penrose St. Francis has been listed as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals by HealthGrades every year since 2008.  In order to continue providing citizens of Southern Colorado with top of the line care, Penrose St. Francis is moving towards constructing a hybrid operating room, the only one of its kind in southern Colorado. .

“This Hybrid Operating Room is a large surgical suite that combines state-of-the-art technology with a sterile operating room environment,” said Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.  It allows physicians to switch minimally-invasive operations into open surgical procedures when needed, without having to transport the patient.  Critical time can be lost when a patient needs to be transferred to a separate operating room.  Sometimes these moments can save the patient’s life.

 “This new procedure room will only enhance the world-class care that is synonymous with the Penrose name and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. About 300 patients per year currently travel to Denver or out-of-state for procedures that can now be performed locally in this Hybrid Operating Room. We expect people from throughout the region and even into western Kansas will travel to Penrose Hospital for procedures in the new Hybrid Operating Room.”

 71 other grants for a total of $2,197,000 were approved at the May Trustees meeting. Click on the here to view the complete list of approved grants.

To search El Pomar’s online grant archive, click here.