A 'Future Proof' New Medical Center in Mountain Village

After years of negotiations, vetting, evaluations, elections and occasional controversy, the Telluride Hospital District (THD) announced in November 2014, the future site for a new regional medical center will be in Mountain Village. The course of identifying a new location for the Telluride Regional Medical Center (Telluride Regional Medical Center) began in 2006 when THD representatives began actively pursuing options for a new facility.

In March 2014, THD issued a formal Request for Information to five regional landowners—the RV lot in the Town of Telluride, two separate lots in Lawson Hill and two separate lots in Mountain Village—and their corresponding private and governmental jurisdictions. After a June deadline, site proposals were summarized and presented to a group chosen to represent unbiased voices from the community, specifically those with experience in architecture, engineering and construction to evaluate submissions and provide feedback on site suitability, cost, fundraising, future growth and risk.

Upon the recommendation of that group, THD announced in October 2014 they would move forward with site negotiations with only the town of Mountain Village regarding the town hall site and the Lawson Hill Property Owners Company's lots H and I.

Presently, Telluride Regional Medical Center is a 10,000 square foot remodeled residential building built in the 1960's on land that THD does not own. The codes to which the current facility was built to are outdated. According to Telluride Regional Medical Center administration, to bring the building to code, the facility would require expansion to approximately 17,000 sf., without any added patient care capacity or an eye for future growth.

In choosing a new location for a regional medical center THD board members 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.

"This has been a methodical eight year process, but after all the public meetings, consultants and internal debate, I feel the best decision for the district as a whole has been made," said Gordon Reichard, Telluride Regional Medical Center executive director.

"Choosing between Mountain Village and Lawson Hill has been difficult. Both sites have advantages and both stakeholders would make great partners for our district going forward," said Larry Mallard, THD chairperson.

Mallard is one of five board members who voted to make the decision official. The vote was unanimously in favor of the Mountain Village site.

Several significant factors were detailed in the THD board meeting explaining the decision including a preference to keep the facility on the gondola line, proximity to the ski resort and mountain bike course, the existing parking structure adjacent to the Mountain Village site that would double as a helicopter landing pad, the land deal presented by the town of Mountain Village and the ability to expand the facility for future growth.

"I like that Lawson Hill is closer for the down valley and mesa residents but at the end of the day most all our patients would have to get into a vehicle and drive to that site," said Mallard.

The most compelling advantage to the Mountain Village package is the land location and expansion capability. The Town Hall site is free to THD and came by way of unanimous support from the Mountain Village Town Council. THD will also be granted the option to expand the facility up to 25,000 additional feet to accommodate future growth.

"Future residents will not be faced with finding another location in 25 years," said Mallard. "This Mountain Village parcel allows us to future proof the facility as best we can."

THD's next step towards a new facility will include negotiating details of the land transaction and selecting partners to see the designing, building and fundraising for a new facility through to fruition.

"We hope to put together a group similar to our Community Advisory Council made up of residents and interested parties experienced in development and fundraising" said Mallard.

Luckily Telluride has a reserve of intellectual capital and being able to tap into that gives us the best chance of success."