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It’s the people that set Centennial Hospital apart from other hospitals, says Lewis Franzen, a 70-year-old hospital volunteer.

“Centennial Hospital is smaller and has a strong community feel. It’s a special place with employees who genuinely care about their patients,” Franzen added.

Dr. Scott Sharp, an ear, nose and throat physician at Centennial Hospital, highlighted the hospital’s operating rooms as boasting “new state-of-the-art equipment” — but the way the staff treats patients also stands out to him.

“Patients have a very personal experience, including a high level of care without a high level of chaos,” Sharp said. There’s “great collaboration and communication between all members of (the) patient care team.”

The hospital capped off its first year in business in March, and after growing out of its beginnings as a smaller medical plaza, it appears to be achieving high levels of patient satisfaction, according to its management.

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

But the building was a “freestanding” emergency department — it wasn’t attached to a hospital. So if patients needed “inpatient” care, the kind that requires staying overnight or longer, they had to be transferred to another Denver-area medical facility.

In March 2021, the plaza finished an expansion and reopened as Centennial Hospital, adding 20 new inpatient beds.

The hospital, like the plaza before it, is affiliated with The Medical Center of Aurora. The Centennial campus sits at Arapahoe and Jordan roads, just west of Parker Road.

The transition to opening as Centennial Hospital added new services, including orthopedic and spine surgery, sports medicine, robotic surgery, and women’s services. General surgery had already been offered at the plaza and continues to be a part of the hospital’s services, according to Tyler Hood, the chief operations officer for Centennial Hospital.

The hospital also offers behavioral health services, a blanket term that generally includes mental health care.

“In 2019, we offered some initial behavioral health services,” Hood said. “When Centennial Hospital opened in 2021, we expanded our services to better serve and meet the needs of our community.”

The hospital’s opening last year didn’t stop its process of adding or expanding types of care: After the hospital opened, cardiology services have been added, Hood said.

“And we are expanding those services in June of this year with expanded cardiac imaging capabilities,” Hood said. “We are also adding outpatient wound care services, outpatient physical therapy and enhanced surgical oncology services to campus in June.”

Aside from the technical aspects, Hood wants the public to know the hospital has achieved “excellent patient quality and service scores” in its first year, he said.

“This is our foundation and something we plan to build upon as we expand services and add service lines to campus in 2022,” Hood said.

Positive feedback is something Dr. Sharp has noticed — his favorite part of working at Centennial Hospital is the “fantastic collaboration” with his team, he said.

“I get more positive feedback about my patients’ experiences at Centennial Hospital than any other facility I’ve worked at,” said Sharp, who lives in Denver. Sharp also serves as the Centennial representative on the medical executive committee at The Medical Center of Aurora.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues a mild period in Colorado, Sharp said the hospital’s “COVID-19 numbers” have declined significantly over the last three months following the omicron surge, in line with national and state statistics. 

“Certainly, there is a feeling of less stress, both from a hospital system and personal standpoint, compared to early in the pandemic or late 2021,” Sharp said. “However, it is still clear that we are not out of the proverbial woods and that we still remain cognizant.”

Franzen has been a volunteer at the Centennial campus for eight years, and he’s still enjoying it.

“I do a little bit of everything — from taking patients to where they need to be to helping put charts together,” said Franzen, who lives in Aurora. “I consider myself a generalist and love to help wherever it’s needed.”

When he was getting ready to retire, he told a friend — who was a nurse at Centennial Medical Plaza — that he was looking for something to do to stay busy. Volunteering was a great fit, Franzen said. Franzen worked at Sky Ridge in medical records from 2004 to 2008.

His favorite part of volunteering at Centennial Hospital is helping during times of surgery, he said.

“When someone has a loved one who is having surgery, they’ll go to the waiting area. I check on the family member to see if they need anything and visit with them,” Franzen said. “I really enjoy meeting and spending time with people from the community. I like to think that I help them relax and feel a bit more at ease. I consider myself to be a great listener, and being able to make a difference in either a patient or their loved one’s day is what fills my cup.”