Caitlin Row

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October 4, 2012
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Building anticipation for Community Hospital's new medical campus in Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - To provide expanded care, Community Hospital is getting ready to break ground on a new medical campus near Canyon View Park in Grand Junction. Its location will be at the corner of G and 23 1/2 roads.

With a new campus, the hospital has high hopes for improved programming and new services - like possibly a birthing unit. And more square footage in the facility will enable the trauma care and outpatient services to be upgraded.

The construction project will be completed in stages over multiple years - the first phase, a new medical office building, will likely open December 2013 or January 2014.

"The groundbreaking (for phase one) should occur shortly at the northeast corner of our new campus," Community Hospital CEO Chris Thomas said.

Phase 1 construction is slated to be a partnership with area physicians, and the building will cost between $20 and $25 million. Community Hospital services - like an imaging center, a small lab and physician/hospital office space - will be provided there as well.

While funding for medical office construction is already in place, Community Hospital officials are still working to secure money for the second phase - construction of a new hospital and trauma center with a $40+ million price tag.

Another $15 million in "extras" could increase hospital construction costs to $60 million, Thomas said to City of Grand Junction council members in a Monday, Oct. 1, work session. Starting construction, however, on the new hospital is fully dependent on securing funding and a timeline isn't in place yet.

Though still in its design stage, Thomas said the new hospital will feature more private rooms, upgrades, and the option to add more beds as the local population increases. It will also be 40,000 square-feet larger than Community Hospital's current, 90,000-square-foot building on 12th Street.

"We're focusing our design to meet outpatient needs," Thomas said, " ... and we're aiming at convenience."

Once the new hospital is fully functional, Community Hospital's separate First Choice Outpatient Surgery Center, located at 2596 F Road, will close and transfer its services to the updated medical campus, Thomas confirmed. The First Choice building will continue to be used for other hospital services, however.

While hospital officials aren't sure if a new medical campus means new jobs for Grand Valley medical professionals, it was noted that job growth would occur if expanded services dictated a need.

"We are working on the staffing needs and the new structure of the new facility," Thomas said.

New services may also be added to Community Hospital's care options, as need and space allows.

"We're doing market research on what the needs are in our community," Thomas said. "Birthing services are definitely at the top of our list of services needed. Our most requested service is baby delivery, so that's a definite possibility."

Community Hospital stopped doing expanded birthing services in February 2000, hospital spokeswoman Becky Jessen said, as part of a board-directed move toward adolescent and adult patient care services.

Finding funds for its new medical campus isn't Community Hospital's only concern regarding the large construction project.

Increased medical services mean increased traffic on G and 23 1/2 roads, and Community Hospital officials recently asked City of GJ council members for help managing street and traffic constraints. G Road will likely need to be widened to accommodate a third turn lane for the medical campus, and piping and drainage issues will need to be addressed as well.

GJ City Council expressed "excitement" for the new hospital project and seemed amenable to funding partnerships on street upgrades for the new medical campus area.

Community Hospital's current location - at 2021 N. 12th St. near Colorado Mesa University's campus - was purchased by CMU for $7.1 million. However, the hospital will continue to provide CMU's student health care as part of the deal.

Community Hospital is currently purchasing the Western Orthopedics and Sports Medicine space at 2020 N. 12th St., where the hospital will retain its presence on the college campus.

Western Orthopedics and Sports Medicine will move to Community Hospital's new physician office building upon its completion.

CMU has construction plans for Community Hospital's 12th Street location to be accomplished in three phases, a process which has already started with the completion of a new student dormitory at 12th and Orchard. Another dorm will be constructed in August 2014, Thomas said, and CMU will take over the current hospital building as soon as Community Hospital moves to its new location.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 9, 2012 06:18PM Published Oct 4, 2012 07:21PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.