COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - In April 2019, the new Children's Hospital Colorado being built in Colorado Springs will open its doors to its first patients.
Just a few years ago, one of those patients could have been Carter Gates, a 12-year-old boy who lives in Colorado Springs.
On Wednesday, Carter became the first kid to step inside what will soon be a state of the art children's hospital in the city.
Carter got a VIP tour of the construction site, while also giving the crews working there a special perspective.
"In 2013 I was diagnosed with leukemia. I had 3 1/2 years of treatment," Carter told dozens of workers who gathered around to hear him speak.
Carter went on to tell them about how thankful he was for the treatment he got at Children's Hospital Colorado, but also talked about the struggles of traveling all the way to Denver for treatment.
"Some days I had to go every single day from Monday through Friday and other days it was just taking forever with traffic and I never felt good after my chemo. I was nauseous, and uncomfortable," said Carter.
But the facility on the Memorial North campus means kids like Carter in southern Colorado no longer have to travel north to get treatment.
As Carter shared his story, it was all smiles among the crews listening, with many saying it was a chance to connect with the project.
"It was great to see Carter out here and we were able to kind of put a face to a project, more so than any other construction project I’ve been involved with," said Jason Boyle, a project manager with Sturgeon Electric, one of the companies working on the site.
Those sentiments echoed by Jim Jansen, a project manager with GE Johnson, who recalled seeing his crews listening to Carter's story.
"They are tough construction guys right? And just to see their hearts melt when they get around these kiddos that have conditions that require them to be in a hospital, it really shows they care, and love that these guys have for the people around them," said Jansen.
There is also a sign on the sight with Carter's picture and story right at the front of the construction sight.
"It means a lot because they have my poster up right over there and they say every time when they feel a little bit down they look at it and think 'okay, we are doing this for Carter, we are are doing it for the kids,'" said Carter.
According to Colorado Children's Hospital staff, Colorado Springs is one of only three metropolitan cities of its size without a dedicated children’s hospital.
Once it is complete, the new Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, will be the first pediatric-only hospital in the region. It will be the most comprehensive children’s hospital between Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and Kansas City. It will also include the region’s first co-located inpatient and outpatient services for children with cancer.
When the facility is complete, it will be 294,000 square feet, and have five floors plus a basement.
The new hospital is slated to be finished in January of 2019, with patient services starting in April 2019.