Grand River Health to add surgery, more clinic space at Rifle hospital |

Grand River Health to add surgery, more clinic space at Rifle hospital

A $12 million operating room expansion at Grand River Health in Rifle will tuck into the grassy area in the U-shape in the middle and connect with the right side of the building, where a nearly $5.9 million medical office building third floor build-out is planned. The projects are expected to begin next month and continue until October 2015.
Debi Billings/Grand River Health |

Grand River Health expansion projects

The surgery expansion will include:

two new operating rooms,

minor renovation to two existing operating rooms, and

an endoscopy room.

Services in the expanded area will include pre-operation, recovery, a post-anesthesia care unit, pre-admitting testing, central sterile, sub-sterile, nurse stations and support spaces. The renovation portion is roughly 9,000 square feet. The expansion will add 5,000 square feet and another 9,000 square feet will be shelled space that can be built out later.

An outpatient clinic will be constructed on the third floor of the existing medical office building and include:

exam rooms,


nurse stations,

a staff lounge and locker rooms,

procedure rooms,

reception desks,

lab areas, and

support spaces.

Two 50-space parking lots, one on the southern side of campus for employees and the other on the north side for patient and visitor use, will also be built.

Source: Grand River Health

A nearly $18 million expansion project is scheduled to begin next month at Grand River Health in Rifle, after a more than doubling of physicians on staff in two years and to respond to community desires, according to officials.

The expansion project is split into two phases: A 23,200-square-foot, close to $12 million, surgery expansion and renovation project and an approximately 22,100-square-foot, nearly $5.9 million, medical office building third floor build-out and construction of new parking areas at Grand River Medical Center, 501 Airport Road, in Rifle.

Two companies responded to the Grand River Hospital District’s request for proposals: FCI Constructors of Grand Junction and Adolphson & Peterson Construction of Aurora. The district board selected FCI as the general contractor. Davis Partnership Architects of Denver is the architect.

Russell Kirkham is director of support services for the district and will oversee the projects. He said FCI has done several projects for the district, including the new medical clinic in Battlement Mesa, where they employed 80 percent local subcontractors with local workers.

“And they came in right on schedule, too,” Kirkham noted.

Work on the medical office building is expected to start in July and should last a few months, he said. Both projects are scheduled to be completed by October of 2015.

More doctors, more services

Grand River CEO Jim Coombs said two years ago, the hospital and medical center in Rifle and health center in Battlement Mesa had 19 doctors on staff. Today, that number stands at 46.

“Some of that was due to converting about eight people in the emergency department from independent contractors to employees,” he said. “The rest, though, was responding to the community and what people wanted to see us offer in terms of more health care services. And we’ve got people sitting on top of people right now, so we need the space to see people efficiently.”

The district’s Community Relations Director, Annick Pruett, noted the specialties and services the expansion projects will provide are ones the community – during multiple focus groups – said they wanted Grand River to provide.

“Being able to offer these services to our community close to home is a huge satisfier to our patients,” she wrote in an email. “And after in-depth financial analysis, it made sense to bring these physicians to Grand River versus referring them to other offices in Grand Junction or Glenwood Springs.”

“We decided to do it now, while we are at about 70 to 80 percent of capacity, instead of waiting until we were turning people away or having long waits” Pruett added.

Coombs said each physician helps create up to eight other support jobs. The district employs around 350 full-time equivalent employees, including those in Rifle and Battlement Mesa, along with the E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle.

Since January of 2011, the district’s payroll has increased by $106,000 a month, Coombs noted.

“These are fairly expensive salaries we’re paying, too,” he added. “But people are utilizing these services.”

District finances healthy

The district’s 2012 annual report lists more than $61 million billed to patients or their insurance, another $26 million billed but not received from the government, negotiated discounts with insurance companies, uncollectable accounts and charity care. That resulted in total net patient revenue of close to $36 million.

“We’re doing reasonably well with our bill collections,” Coombs added.

He also said patient volumes have been growing by 10 to 15 percent in recent years.

Total district revenue in 2012 was more than $54 million, while the district spent nearly $46 million on patient care, according to the report.

The district, along with others that collect property taxes, was affected by recent declines in revenue from natural gas activity, Coombs said. The district gets around 20 percent of its revenue from that source, he added.

The district’s annual reports show an approximate $5 million decline in property tax revenue last fiscal year compared to the 2012 fiscal year, while the district’s payroll increased from more than $18 million to approximately $25 million. Pruett noted some of that increase was due to the shift from paying contracted emergency department physicians in 2012 that are now on the district’s payroll as employed physicians.

Conservative budgeting by the district’s board of directors over many years helped make these projects and the new Grand River Health West medical clinic in Battlement Mesa possible without increasing debt, Coombs said. The 2012 report lists debt of nearly $7.8 million, which Coombs said is mostly from building the current hospital in 2003.

Adding new medical services helps the Rifle community grow, Coombs said.

“People want good health care and they don’t want to have to drive long distances to get it,” he added. “And physicians don’t want to worry about their paychecks, like they would at a struggling hospital.

“I get weekly calls from doctors from all over, wanting to come here,” Coombs continued. “And more than 90 percent of our employees support these projects.”

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