Gazette: Southeast (An Eight-Part Series on Southeastern Colorado Springs)

Posted 11/30/2017

Multimillion-dollar price tags, expansive suites and cutting-edge technology are the norm for new hospitals and health clinics in Colorado Springs.

Not in the city’s southeast. Here, primary health care for thousands of patients is in a gray, low-slung building originally made for defense contractors, not doctors. Missing it is easy — the turn-off from South Academy Boulevard arrives long before its front doors are even visible.

“Because there’s so many apartments around us, people walk to us, they push strollers over here, they ride bikes over,” said Cory Arcarese, founder of Value Care Health Clinic.

They come seeking the nurse practitioners who tend to some of the city’s most impoverished residents — the clinic a rarity in an area with some of Colorado Springs’ most glaring health disparities and some of the fewest nearby options for care.

Largely devoid of the same health care resources as the rest of the city, the southeast’s residents on average suffer unusually high rates of poor physical health and mental distress — ailments that often go untreated due to the ever-rising cost of care. The disparities highlight a deep divide between the southeast and the rest of the city while offering a clear example of the physical and mental repercussions that poverty, crime and food insecurity can inflict on a community, health care experts say.

AspenPointe, a key mental health provider for Medicaid patients, recently doubled down on serving southeast residents.

The nonprofit recently spent $9.5 million acquiring a 70,000-square-foot building near Jet Wing Drive and Fountain Boulevard to expand its psychiatric, counseling and group therapy services. It plans to spend at least $200,000 more renovating the building, which formerly housed the defense contractor TASC.

AspenPointe made the move for its clients’ convenience, said Kevin Porter, an AspenPointe spokesman.

“We know that that area in particular has a high concentration of Medicaid-eligible individuals and families,” Porter said. “So it makes sense to be as close to them as possible, in order to reduce barriers like transportation.”

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