Childhood obesity and a shortage in physicians, nurses and psychiatrists rank among the Pikes Peak region’s most pressing health care needs, members of Memorial Hospital’s board of directors said Monday.
The board voiced those concerns during a meeting with the Colorado Springs Health Foundation’s board of directors, which is in the process of hosting a series of listening sessions across the Pikes Peak region to determine where to focus its money.
The foundation was created as a part of University of Colorado Health’s 40-year lease of Memorial Hospital. It’s been tasked with overseeing all money paid by UCHealth to Colorado Springs, including lease payments and a $259 million down payment that remains tied up in escrow due to a legal battle over pension liabilities.
A few other listening sessions have already been hosted by the foundation’s board of directors to gauge the region’s most pressing needs, and more are being planned for the coming weeks. Input from those meetings will be used to help the foundation focus its efforts when awarding grants across the Pikes Peak region for public health purposes.
On Monday, Memorial’s board repeatedly voiced concerns about childhood obesity – framing it an issue that affects education and a child’s success later in life.
“The place you can have the biggest impact is on those young children – getting them started in shape, in a way that helps them to be more fit, which makes them more attentive in class, which gives them the opportunity to learn,” said Gene Renuart, a member of Memorial Hospital’s board of directors and a retired Air Force general.
Also, Memorial board members lamented a deep shortage on physicians, nurses and psychiatrists, as well as a lack of mental health services for people in Teller County.
Renuart advised the foundation not to spread its money too thin by trying to help everyone at once.
“My personal view is to pick two big ones (issues) and go for it,” Renuart said.