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For about 35 years, Centennial Medical Plaza has served as an emergency room in what eventually became the east-central part of the City of Centennial. It performs some vital procedures: emergency room care, imaging studies that can detect patients’ medical conditions, and surgeries that don’t require hospitalization.

But the building is a “freestanding” emergency department — it’s not attached to a hospital. So if patients need “inpatient” care, the kind that requires staying overnight or longer, they have to be transferred to another Denver-area medical facility.

But the majority of the medical plaza’s patients live in the Centennial area, according to Sara Pierce, director of business development for the plaza’s new incarnation, the newly named Centennial Hospital.

“Our patients want to stay in Centennial and have another option that’s close to home, and we hope to be there for them,” said Tyler Hood, chief administrative officer for Centennial Hospital.

On March 1, the plaza — under construction since March 2019 for its expansion — will reopen as Centennial Hospital, adding 20 new inpatient beds and more than 80 new jobs this year, hospital officials said. The expansion adds to a previous staff of about 45, and the number of positions could expand in the future, Hood said. The campus sits at Arapahoe and Jordan roads, just west of Parker Road.

For Kyle Dahm, the building’s administrative director of nursing, the campus’s expansion is a chance to craft a hospital that area residents will want to choose.

“It’s the opportunity to build something from the ground up — the culture you want, the patient experience you want the community to have when they come here,” said Dahm, a Parker resident.

After working at the building since April and working for 16 years in the Denver metro area for HealthONE — the health care system of which Centennial Hospital is a part — Dahm sees the transition as a chance for nurses to dig deeper than getting lost in the bustle of the job. He’ll be “helping other nurses connect with their patients,” Dahm said.

During the project, hospital leaders have had personal contact with City of Centennial officials, Pierce said. Between real-estate and payroll tax, the hospital transition will expand and increase the campus’ overall economic impact to the city, Hood said.

“Sara and I have had routine meetings with Mayor Stephanie Piko — the city has been very supportive,” Hood said.

Centennial Hospital, like the plaza before it, is affiliated with The Medical Center of Aurora. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the plaza’s transition to a hospital generally won’t affect the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients in the Aurora medical center’s different campuses. But the hospital’s opening makes available 20 more beds — four of which are intensive care unit, or ICU, beds — and additional ventilators for the Medical Center of Aurora and HealthONE system, Hood said.

Centennial Medical Plaza opened in 1986 as the area’s first freestanding emergency room with outpatient services, according to a news release from the hospital. The business plan to transition into a hospital originated about five years ago, Hood said.

New and expanded services at the hospital will include orthopedic and spine surgery, sports medicine, general surgery, robotic surgery, and women’s services, the release said.

The campus’s medical office buildings continue to house new specialty health care providers including orthopedic and spine services, general surgery practices, oncology services, obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) physicians, and behavioral health resources, the news release said.