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Location: Then and Now


Denver Health Main Hospital 1898

At the urging of a Vienna-born physician named John Elsner, the Arapahoe County Commission in 1873 established a new hospital on a city block bordered by what would become Sixth Avenue on the south, Seventh Avenue on the north, Bannock on the east and Cherokee on west.

The site of the new county hospital, which was established three years before Colorado attained statehood, has been Denver Health’s home ever since. Before the new county hospital was established, Dr. Elsner cared for patients in makeshift locations, including a tent and then a 29-bed hospital at the corner of Ninth and Champa. When the new hospital was completed, he gathered up his patients, including many who were living in hen houses and barns, and showed them to their new quarters.

The hospital resembled a two-story brick house and was surrounded by cottonwood trees and benches. It included a pharmacy, a dining room, living quarters for the doctor and his family, and wards for male and female patients. In 1902, when Arapahoe County was broken up into three smaller counties, the hospital would become part of the City and County of Denver. Residents continued to refer to it as the county hospital until 1924 when it was renamed the Denver General Hospital. It retained the name of the Denver General until 1997 when it became Denver Health and Hospitals Authority.


Denver Health Medical Center 2017Through falling and rising buildings, Denver Health has changed its appearance over the years, growing into a full system that expands beyond the main campus. Facilities and technology have improved, to better our patient’s care journey and make things a little easier on staff.

Former Director of Engineering Jon Clark says the biggest infusion for Denver Health is when we became an authority in 1997. As soon as we had authority, we were set for expansion, and Pavilions B, C, D, E, G, H, I, J, K and M came along, he says. Busting at the seams in Pavilion A meant the need for renovation and development and since then, Denver Health’s main campus grounds have grown to reach more than 1.7 million square feet and to providing 525 beds for patients.

Pavilion B was built to house outpatient orthopedic services, progressive care services, the medical intensive care unit and more. Clark says one of the largest expansions was going from an outdated 30,000-square foot unit for labor and delivery on the sixth floor of Pavilion A, to more than 240,000 square feet in Pavilion C. The pavilion, which was built in 2006, also houses a women’s care clinic, pediatric and neonatal and has served as a great addition for women and children.

When Denver first became a city and county, priorities were to immediately take care of people within the surrounding area, and when it later became a city hospital, and then Denver General, this area was the best for that. Clark says we’ve been able to fill a need for health care in this location others aren’t able to fill.

As Metro Denver continues on its journey to a population of more than three million, Denver Health will continue to keep up the pace. In November, Denver Health will be on the ballot for a General Obligation (G.O.) bond to build an Outpatient Medical Center where 660 Bannock currently resides – to better serve the one-third of Denver’s population we already serve and more. The center will act as a diverse facility for patients seeking care for everything from breast imaging and oncology, to orthopedics and behavioral health.