Battlement Mesa area welcomes expanded medical facility
BATTLEMENT MESA — Parachute Mayor Judith Beasley can remember times when there was no health care in the Parachute/Battlement Mesa area.
She also recalls when land she stood on last week was mere pasture, rather than Battlement Mesa subdivision acreage where construction has kicked off on a $16 million medical facility being built by the Grand River Hospital District.
Beasley was among dignitaries from the two communities who joined in celebrating the start of construction on the project last week.
“It lifts your heart to know we’re going to have something so beautiful,” Beasley said, motioning to architectural renderings of the 36,000-square-foot facility.
Even more appealing than its aesthetics for local residents is the promise it holds for expanded, close-to-home health care, particularly for the many retirees who live in Battlement Mesa.
Said one of them, Dave Devanney, “As we get older and older, health care becomes more of a priority for us. It’s nice to have some high-quality health care nearby.”
Grand River, which also runs facilities including a hospital and nursing home in Rifle and a student health center in Parachute, already operates a clinic and an Occupational Health and Safety Center in Battlement Mesa. The two are located in leased space in a strip mall across from where the new facility is being built on Sipprelle Drive.
Space there can be cramped, said Dr. Kevin Coleman. He sometimes finds himself having to use the procedure room to do exams when other exam rooms are full, meaning the other doctor has to wait for it. Patients also sometimes must wait in a common room, which besides lacking privacy can facilitate the spread of germs.
The new facility will have 18 exam rooms and provide space for up to eight primary care providers, compared to three now. The 11 acres also have enough room to add three more buildings over time.
For Coleman, 44, a Hotchkiss native now living in Battlement Mesa, the new facility is exciting to him not just as a physician but as a resident.
“It means a lot for the people of this community. That’s what I’m most happy for,” he said.
Construction on the new building is expected to be finished by February of next year.
The project has been more than five years in the making. Grand River finalized purchase of the property in 2007 and drew up plans in 2008, but then put things on hold due to the recession. But the community continued to express its interest in seeing the center get built, and eventually the project was taken back off the shelf.
“People have really wanted this for a long time,” said Grand River Chief Executive Officer Jim Coombs.
Said Lois Kame, administrative director of clinic services, “It was huge for this community to move forward.”
Demand for medical services in Battlement Mesa has been growing. Coleman said the clinic saw 9,000 patients last year, and this year it’s on pace to serve about 10,000. Some come from as far away as Grand Junction.
Some of that may be related to workers commuting to the area for oil and gas jobs. But Grand River officials say waiting lists resulting from an apparent shortage of primary care providers in the Grand Junction area also seem to be a factor.
Kame said another factor may be that as a tax-funded district, Grand River takes “all comers” in terms of patients, including those on Medicare and Medicaid, unlike some health care providers.
The new facility will have an expanded lab, new radiology services and enhanced occupational, health and rehabilitation services.
Already, its Occupational Health and Safety Center offers everything from drug screening to tests of fitness for duty.
Parachute resident Toby Miller, a truck driver, said he and coworkers take advantage of the facility for physicals and other services. After receiving treatment for tendinitis last week, he said he’s happy about the new construction project and appreciates the convenience of the care he’s able to receive even now in Battlement Mesa.
“That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I don’t have to go to Grand Junction to get this done.”