Collaboration to Serve Communities

Construction involves a massive effort in collaboration: with building owners, owner’s representatives, architects and design teams, consultants, and communities across Colorado. Creative collaborations also create the opportunity for projects like the Family Health Center at Mitchell High School, a community resource forged from a mutually beneficial partnership. We are inspired by how Peak Vista Community Health Centers and Colorado Springs School District 11, through their generous teamwork, maximized the beneficial impact of this primary health clinic inside Mitchell High School.

In 2019, Peak Vista had identified a need for a family health clinic in southeastern Colorado Springs. Pam McManus, Peak Vista President and CEO at the time, told the Gazette the area was identified in their research as the most under-served area in the city where many residents lacked immediate health care access. However, financial constraints prevented Peak Vista from building a new clinic in that area.

District 11, meanwhile, faced declining enrollment at Mitchell High School. When they connected with Peak Vista and learned about plans for the clinic, District 11 was already considering new ways to connect the school to the neighboring community.

“I want our schools to be the hubs of our community, and the partnership with Peak Vista aligns with what we are envisioning,” Dr. Michael Thomas, former District 11 Superintendent, told the Gazette when the project was announced. “We want to take a holistic approach to educating students.”

Through their partnership, Peak Vista and District 11 collaborated on plans for a new clinic at Mitchell High School with Nunn Construction and RTA Architects as a design/build team. The project renovated a former club meeting space and three unused classrooms into a clinic providing medical, dental, and behavioral health services to the school’s families and surrounding community. While District 11 funded the remodel for the clinic, Peak Vista covered the clinic’s staffing and operating costs.

Early in the project, Pam told KKTV: “This one is a very innovative partnership in that there have been school-based health centers across the country or even in Colorado, and we have several, but this one will be the first one where it’s truly a family health center located in a school.”

Nunn faced an accelerated schedule with only four months to completely demo the interior of the wing in Mitchell High School and build the new clinic spaces. Despite a water pipe bursting during a particularly deep freeze, threatening delays, our team had the project ready to open for patients at the end of December 2019. According to Peak Vista, the clinic had 219 medical, 25 dental, and 19 behavioral health visits between January 6 and January 21, 2020.

“We want to take a holistic approach to educating students.”

Having seen the busy clinic and very fruitful results of this partnership, we look forward to seeing what similar collaborations can achieve for future projects. For Peak Vista and District 11, we applaud their creativity and actualizing their vision in combining facilities that not only helped strengthen the missions of each organization but also the residents of southeast Colorado.

Photo courtesy of Jerilee Bennett, the Gazette

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