Construction on Denver Health Southwest Community Health Center and Urgent Care facility is complete. The $37-million clinic is located at 1339 S. Federal Blvd., the former site of an abandoned Albertsons warehouse. Almost 30 months after planning for the clinic began, the 45,000-sq-ft facility, part of the Denver Health system, opened on April 18.

The Southwest Community Health Center offers 40 exam rooms and is the first in the Denver Health system to provide on-site urgent care. Other clinic services include: family medicine and primary care, women’s health, WIC food and nutrition, mental health care, pediatric care, dental care, labs, a full-service pharmacy, radiology and enrollment.  

The building has expansive atriums and lobbies and a large, interactive children’s play zone. There’s also a large multipurpose community conference room that can be used for activities such as cooking classes and local meetings.

Universal signage and intuitive wayfinding allow multilingual patients to easily make their way around the facility. Departments that need to be most accessible to the community—like urgent care, pharmacy and dentistry—are located near the main entrance. The building features high-quality finishes and design elements that include wood, slate tiles, expansive skylights and vaulted ceilings.

The opening of the new clinic coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first Denver Health community health center, built in the Five Points neighborhood.

“The hard-working people living in this community are the ones who are building this city with their hands,” said Paul López, Denver city councilman, District 3. “These are the people for whom the American Dream just isn’t paying off. In fact 2010 data showed that residents in our area were expected to prematurely die eight years earlier in comparison to other districts. So the need for medical service is overwhelming.”

Collaborative Partnerships

When Denver Health determined the need to offer comprehensive health services to the diverse and economically challenging Southwest neighborhood, they chose RTA Architects for facility planning and design.

Pete Gutierrez, Associate COO, Denver Health Ambulatory Services, said, “Together with RTA, we are aiming for more than just a building. You have to spur the community to help them rise up. You have to give them hope by surrounding them with people who truly care about their well-being and provide facilities to support that. The Southwest Family Health Center will absolutely turn this community around.”

RTA says it began the design with an immersion phase and spent several days at an existing Denver Health community health center to document the current state of patient, staff and procedure flows.

“We went in with our eyes and ears wide open and really looked at Denver Health’s needs, desires, processes and mission,” said Kevin Gould, RTA principal-in-charge. “The ultimate goal was to optimize flow and value for the patients and staff of the new Southwest Community Health Center and to create a space that will be embraced as a centerpiece of the community.”

Following the immersion phase, RTA and a multi-disciplinary Denver Health team held a 3P (production, preparation, process) event to create and test potential designs.

“The 3P event was great. Each department had an opportunity to really spend time with the architects, and people walked away feeling like they had truly been heard,” said Tina Quintana, Denver Health Clinic administrator.

The project was constructed by Hensel Phelps of Greeley.