Details of the redevelopment of the St. Anthony Central Hospital property in Denver are still being hammered out, but the personal property in the closed hospital on 18.85 acres in west Denver has found a new home.
More than 50 tons of equipment — including about 180 adjustable hospital beds that could not be used at a new hospital in Lakewood that replaced the obsolete Denver institution near Sloan’s Lake — will be sent to the Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi. The Denver facility closed last year.
The humanitarian shipment is to be made on the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War-era “Christmas Bombings” by the U.S. in 1972 that accidently struck Bach Mai Hospital, killing patients and staff members. The 500-pound bomb that hit the hospital was intended for a nearby air strip. A memorial in the hospital’s courtyard honors those who died in the bombing. The shipment also comes at a time when the U.S. and Vietnam are working to improve diplomatic and commercial relations.
The Bach Mai Hospital has been a “sister hospital” to St. Anthony since 2004. Top administrators have promised the used equipment to Bach Mai ever since planning began for the replacement hospital that opened in June 2011 in Lakewood.
In recent months, Dr. Carl Bartecchi, a Colorado physician who oversees a training program in academic medicine for Vietnamese physicians and nurses at Bach Mai, helped lead a national effort to raise about $300,000 to transport the equipment to Vietnam. Of the money he raised, more than more than $120,000 came from doctors who work at St. Anthony Hospital. The equipment, which includes everything from blood pressure cuffs and surgical tools to operating tables and ventilators, also will benefit a second hospital in Hanoi, Viet Duc.
Dr. Bartecchi worked with colleagues and foundations from around the country, including the Mayo Clinic and the Michigan State University internal medicine program, to raise funds for the shipment.
It will leave Denver by truck later this week for Chicago, and then will be flown aboard a Boeing 747 to Hanoi. The cargo of life-saving equipment — including two motorcycle ambulances, one donated by the Evergreen Rotary, the other by Denver author Sandra Dallas — will leave O’Hare International Airport at approximately 7 a.m. on Friday, for the 18-hour flight to Vietnam’s capital city.
St. Anthony, which is part of Centura Health, a statewide health care system co-sponsored by Englewood-based Catholic Health Initiatives, has a long clinical and charitable affiliation with the 2,000-bed Bach Mai Hospital, a teaching facility for Hanoi Medical University that is so overcrowded that hundreds of patients must share beds. CHI’s Mission and Ministry Fund, which provides millions of dollars for community programs in the U.S. and around the world, has donated more than $650,000 since 2007 to the Bach Mai Hospital Project, a non-profit organization led by Dr. Bartecchi.
A clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and a veteran of the Vietnam War, Dr. Bartecchi teaches at Bach Mai twice a year. Through this program, U.S. physicians train their counterparts at Bach Mai twice each year in critical-care medicine, toxicology, cardiology, pediatrics and emergency medicine; the program also brings Vietnamese physicians to St. Anthony Hospital, the Mayo Clinic and Denver Health each year for training stints ranging from six to 12 months. Those individuals then return to Vietnam to train their colleagues.
A wide assortment of individuals and organizations have made this shipment possible, including an air-freight company, Chapman Freeborn, that offered to reduce the cost of the flight to Noi Bai International Airport outside of Hanoi. Financial assistance included support from the St. Anthony Health Foundation, St. Anthony Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, Michigan State University Medical Center, the McCaw Foundation and many private donors, including members of the American Vietnamese community.
Centura Health has entered into exclusive negotiations with Denver-based EFG Brownfield Partners, for the purchase and sale of the former St. Anthony Central Hospital Campus. EFG Brownfield Partners has been meeting with members of the community regarding the redevelopment. In 2010, the site was rezoned for medium- to high-density uses. The former hospital site is expected to be redeveloped into a mixed-use development with a wide-range of residential housing and some retail. EFG Brownfield is expected to buy the site next year.