New Community Hospital takes shape on Grand Junction medical campus
Community Hospital’s new medical campus near Grand Junction’s Canyon View Park is finally taking shape. After completing and then opening a medical office at the corner of G and 23 1/2 roads last April, a new, on-site hospital is currently under construction.
According to Community Hospital CEO Chris Thomas, the hospital is scheduled to open in March 2016. It will offer more space, new equipment, “a better, more efficient layout,” two patient-friendly entrances, and it will be physically connected to the medical office.
“The elevator and stairwell shafts are up and the first floor is done,” Thomas confirmed. “Weather has been bad for skiers and great for construction. We’re on budget and ahead of schedule.”
Community Hospital’s construction costs for the new, state-of-the-art structure carries a price tag of about $49 million.
“That doesn’t include architect fees, permits, licenses, etc.,” Thomas noted. “It’s $58 million will all the moving pieces rolled in; if you add new equipment, that’s another $10 million. It’s going to be nice.”
As part of Community Hospital’s new campus, it will offer a long-awaited labor and delivery program.
“We will start delivering babies at the hospital in 2016,” Thomas said. “We partnered last April with physicians of Colorado West WomanCare; their offices are in our new medical building.”
Babies who need urgent care in a neonatal intensive care unit after delivery would still go to Grand Junction’s St. Mary’s Hospital, or hospitals in Denver and Salt Lake City.
Other new programs offered at Community Hospital include an affiliation with University of Utah Health Care, which started in 2013.
“It really gives Community Hospital support,” Thomas said. “We send nurses there for training, and we’re using them to recruit physicians.”
To keep as much medical care in Mesa County as possible, Community Hospital also uses a “robot” in the emergency room to “tele-help” — meaning out-of-state doctors can use a camera to access and talk with patients at the Grand Junction location.
“We will eliminate transfers as much as possible, and specialists are available whenever we need them,” Thomas said.
Another big change to Community Hospital is its expanded cancer treatment center, which kicked off in November 2014.
Four doctors in the area made the program possible, Thomas confirmed — Dr. Joanne Virgilio (medical oncology), Dr. Diane Melancon (internist, oncology), Dr. Ruth Higdon (GYN surgical oncologist) and Dr. Gayle Miller (radiation oncologist). And within the first seven weeks of starting the program, Community Hospital celebrated its 1,000th patient visit.
“This fall we will start doing radiation oncology,” Thomas said. “We’re doing medical oncology now. Both of those programs will be in joint venture with the Huntsman Cancer Institute, part of the University of Utah Health Care system. It’s a huge opportunity for us to have those four physicians who have already been here in this community.”
Karen Martsolf, Community Hospital’s spokeswoman, confirmed that more than 600 employees — including 65 new, full-time hires — work at the Grand Junction hospital.
“We have 257 physicians on our medical staff with 44 specialties represented,” she said.
WHAT ABOUT THE OLD HOSPITAL?
Community Hospital’s current location (2021 N. 12th St.) was purchased in 2011 by Colorado Mesa University to the tune of $7.1 million due to its proximity to campus.
“The sale will help to expedite the planning for a replacement facility for Community Hospital while providing more space for the growing MSC campus,” a 2011 press release stated.
Colorado Mesa University “will take possession of the hospital in summer of 2016,” Thomas confirmed.
According to Dana Nunn, Colorado Mesa University’s spokeswoman, the school will continue to evaluate needs to determine use of the structure. Its health/science department could potentially move into the hospital building, but that is subject to change.
For more information about Community Hospital, visit http://www.yourcommunityhospital.com.
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