February 16, 2015 (TELLURIDE) – Last month Mountain Village Town Council ratified a land conveyance agreement with the Telluride Hospital District (THD) bringing a new regional medical center one step closer to a reality.
Mountain Village Town Council sanctioned the transfer of the roughly one acre property from the Town of Mountain Village to THD unanimously on January 15, at zero cost. The arrangement however, is contingent on several caveats including that construction of the new facility begin within five years of the closing date, ample parking is provided for patients and the THD commit $500,000 in earnest money, according to Telluride Medical Center Director (TMC), Gordon Reichard.
The property offered by the Town of Mountain Village for a new regional medical center is located behind The Market at Mountain Village and Mountain Village Town Hall. The site offers pedestrian access via a gondola terminal, bus service, as well as convenient access for Ski Patrol and a location for a helipad on the northwest end of the parking structure adjacent to the where the new facility is envisioned.
In choosing a new location for a regional medical center THD Board of Directors rated sites on suitability for building and construction costs, total facility cost to the community, availability of funding mechanisms, potential for future growth, convenient access to primary care and carbon footprint in building design.
The THD Board also considered public input and independent recommendations from a Community Advisory Committee and Frauenshuh Consulting, a medical site selection-consulting firm.
The Mountain Village site was announced as THD’s top choice in November.
“We expect to close on the property early this summer but only after the last few hurdles are cleared,” said Reichard.
TMC’s current facility, a 10,000-square-foot remodeled residential building, was refashioned to accommodate the medical center under the 1978 Universal Building Code. TMC estimates that bringing the entire facility up to current Medical, Life Safety, Building and Energy Codes would increase the facility to approximately 17,000 square feet, without adding any patient care capacity to accommodate today’s population or sufficient space to accommodate future population growth.
According to Reichard, to plan for projected future growth, a 25,000 square foot building is required and will include two additional exam rooms, a procedure room for the emergency department, as well as three new primary care exam and visiting specialists’ rooms. This proposed facility, anticipating future needs, would also include one overnight observation bed, a surveillance area (built jointly with the town and county), and a larger imaging department, along with support space for the added patients and staffing needs.
TMC’s current growth is unprecedented. In 2014 the organization accommodated 18,623 patient visits, up 11% over the previous year.
Two significant areas of growth, according to Reichard, are the number of patients seen at TMC over age 65 and those 14 and under. Last year’s visits from the baby boomer demographic were up 55% over 2009, while patient visits from the 14 and younger segment grew by 31% over the same five-year span.
To meet growing demands while still operating within the current facility, TMC has added new staff, extended Saturday’s visiting hours and created a makeshift exam room.
“We’re bursting at the seams here,” said Reichard about modifications made to the conference room to accommodate the twelve visiting specialists who collaborate with TMC.
Despite a real need for an expanded facility and general support from Mountain Village Town officials, THD’s path to a new regional medical center includes a thorough process yet still to navigate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must first approve a Wetlands Permit and Mitigation Application in addition to securing other process authorizations from the Mountain Village Design Review Board and from a Task Force commissioned by the Town of Mountain Village to oversee development of the Town Hall Center Subarea.
The Town of Mountain Village will offer the public opportunities to weigh in on the process of hosting the region’s only medical facility sometime this spring.
According to Reichard, THD will release a business plan for the new facility, which will include details to finance the new facility with a combination of philanthropy, public and private financing, and revenue stream from the services provided at the new facility in the coming months.
TMC is the region’s only 24-hour emergency, Level 5 Trauma Care Center and is presently located in Telluride’s Depot District on land that THD does not own.