BATTLEMENT MESA – A new medical clinic means much more than better health care for residents of Battlement Mesa, according to a retired longtime administrator of the Battlement Mesa Co., which oversees the unincorporated community of approximately 4,450 people.
Lynn Shore helped negotiate an agreement many years ago to bring a medical clinic to Battlement Mesa, overseen by St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
“This is more significant,” Shore said after a March 13 ribbon cutting at the new Grand River Health Medical Clinic West. “The primary reason a lot of residents leave is to have better health care and be closer to those services. So this will help retain our older residents and also attract families with kids.”
The 39,000-square-foot, two-story clinic includes family health, imaging and laboratory services, occupational health and rehabilitation therapy services. Construction on the $16 million building began in March 2013 and the facility welcomed its first patients on March 3 of this year. It allowed the transfer of Grand River’s Battlement Mesa clinic and occupational health and rehabilitation therapy from leased, small quarters in the nearby shopping center.
The Grand River Hospital District, Grand River Health’s still-official name, paid $1.2 million to the Battlement Mesa Co. for the approximately 11-acre site, located at 201 Sipprelle Drive.
FCI Constructors of Grand Junction was the general contractor on the project. The company said at the peak of construction, approximately 110 workers were on site. Of 23 subcontractors hired, 18 were from Western Colorado, representing approximately 85 percent of the value of the subcontracted work.
Shore said after a local resident has surgery, having the new clinic means they will no longer have to travel to Grand Junction or Glenwood Springs to rehabilitate.
“I really think this will attract other medical and health care businesses, too,” Shore added. “There’s specialties, medical supplies, things like that. It’s just a huge boost to our community.”
Meeting a desire and need
In remarks before a ribbon cutting and tours of the clinic, Grand River CEO Jim Coombs noted a survey of district residents many years ago identified a desire to have a clinic “in a building like Rifle,” where the district’s hospital and medical center are located.
“We’re very pleased we can check this off our list,” Coombs said. “We also built this with the future in mind, so we can expand.”
District Board President Kip Costanzo said the 2008 economic downturn delayed the project until last year.
“With some creative budgeting, we were able to pull it off,” he added.
Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson, who represents Battlement Mesa, called the new clinic “awesome.”
“This is a blessing to us all and may it always be that way,” he said.
Chief of Staff Dr. Kevin Coleman said he and the close to two dozen employees in the new clinic are “looking forward to building this clinic into something even more special.”
The primary clinic has 12.5 employees, occupational health has 4.5, therapy services three and lab radiology will have four in about one month.
Five years ago, the Battlement Mesa clinic treated 7,000 patients, Coleman said. This year, the clinic has already seen 11,000 patients.
Coleman noted the clinic has space for specialty care doctors, “so they can see you here, instead of you having to drive to them.”
“We owe you something, so we will all do our very best to give you the best qualify medical care possible,” he said. “It’s all about possibility and promise.”
New equipment = new services
Occupational Health and Therapy Director Jim Zimmerman said his department features new equipment and weights, treadmills and private exam rooms. The department conducts pre-employment and “fit-for-duty” physicals of new and injured workers, along with drug testing.
“We also assess someone’s physical condition to make sure they can do the job they’re seeking,” Zimmerman added. “So if there is lifting required, we have weights and a sled they push across the floor.”
Prospective truck drivers are given a test to carry a snow chain to a tire that’s 20 feet away, put on and then remove the chain, without letting the chain touch the floor, he noted.
Zimmerman said his department also tests respirators to make sure they protect workers, such as those in the natural gas industry, from toxic fumes.
The new clinic offers much more space, Zimmerman said, and he and his staff don’t have to share space with physical therapy and rehabilitation services.
The director of that department, Paul Schultz, said new equipment includes parallel bars that can be adjusted for height with the push of a button, to help someone regain muscle in their legs following surgery.
Six treatment rooms are available, but Schultz said he only has one and a half therapists right now.
“So we can grow into this,” he added. “All our therapists are linked by lap tops so they update a patient’s information right then. That saves time doing paperwork later.”
A wound care room is also available if a worker comes to the clinic with an injury, Schultz said.