Eagle County opening new medical center
EAGLE – Eagle’s newest medical center – a $13 million joint venture by two competing hospitals – will be up and running by Nov. 1. Rather than choosing between competing medical facilities scattered about town, downvalley residents now will head to a single location for routine doctor visits and primary medical care. Doctors affiliated with both Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and Vail Valley Medical Center will work at the new Eagle Healthcare Center. Within the 34,000-square-foot building, the doctors offices will be distinctly separate, with each entity operating on its designated side of the building. However, the two medical groups will share common facilities within the building such as a radiology lab and physical therapy space.The state-of-the-art building, located on a 14-acre parcel on Sylvan Lake Road in Eagle Ranch, is the first phase of an eventual medical campus. When the project first came through the town’s planning process, there was a laundry list of items to be included in the facility. From the start, there has been talk from some of the Eagle Healthcare Center’s governing board of a medical campus that would eventually include multiple medical office buildings, a small hospital wing and an assisted living center. These days, the hospital group spokesmen are being more cautious about projecting the medical campus’ future.Valley View Hospital CEO Gary Brewer and Vail Valley Hospital’s Stan Anderson, the senior vice president of operations, say there are a number of factors that will determine what, and when, future facilities will be built on the site. Those triggers include cost, population size, public demand and the availability of physicians, surgeons, specialists, nurses and other hospital staff.”One day I think you will have a great hospital here – I just think it is a little early now,” said Brewer. “If the numbers were there, we’d do it in a heartbeat.”Anderson said the parcel is planned to accommodate a small hospital, two medical office buildings, and potentially some assisted living.”The timing of all those projects, whether county sponsored or joint venture, are related to community needs,” he said. A couple of years ago, the medical group agreed to let Eagle County use two acres of the site for an eventual assisted living facility. That facility would not be built by the hospital groups, but rather by some other public-private partnership between local government and private investors. However, subsequent studies have suggested that two acres probably isn’t big enough to accommodate such a facility. That issue is still being studied.Brewer says the lot size is a factor. Technically, there are 11 buildable acres on the site. Medical facilities require sizable parking lots.Anderson says there is enough room at the site for something along the lines of a small, critical access hospital at some point in the future.”There is potential … but you don’t re-create the medical centers of Glenwood or Vail there,” he notes.Both men admit the mechanics of having two competing organizations can be complicated.”We try our best to look at it and see what is best for Eagle,” says Brewer.Meanwhile, the governing board for Eagle Healthcare Center will continue to evaluate community needs, and work at bringing in new facilities.”Our goal is to try to bring as much health care as possible to people in Eagle and Gypsum,” says Brewer.
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