New heartbeat at St. Mary’s

Hospital starts construction on cardiac center

St. Mary’s Medical Center staff members break ground on a new $48 million center for heart and vascular health on Thursday morning.

St. Mary’s Medical Center and its parent company officially broke ground Thursday on a new $48.5 million center for heart and vascular health that hospital officials say will allow patients to stay local and not have to travel to Denver or Salt Lake City for some procedures.

The 46,316 square-foot building will include a hybrid operating room that allows for less invasive heart procedures, a catheter lab and a total upgrade of the cardiovascular medical area. Construction is scheduled to take 18 months for the new building on the main campus of St. Mary’s. It’s currently slated to open in January 2019.

“We’ve had great cardiac care and cardiologists for years, who have been operating the best they can with limited space. Now, we’ll have the most innovative space and new equipment in the entire region,” St. Mary’s President Brian Davidson said after a groundbreaking ceremony that drew top officials from parent company SCL Health and representatives from state and local government.

Davidson estimates 60 to 100 patients each year dealing with heart arrhythmia or other heart issues are sent to either Salt Lake City or Denver for their care. He expects that in addition to those patients being able to stay in town, the new building could serve double that number of patients.

“It’s huge,” Dr. William Anderson, SCL Health director of cardiovascular surgery, said of the new facility. “What we find is that patients are often very reluctant to make the trip, even for what might be life-saving care, so to have this here, it really pushes the agenda forward.”

That agenda, Anderson said, is to focus on patients and meet the needs of the community. He said St. Mary’s was an ideal location for the new center not only due to its geographical location, but also because of its cardiology program already in place. SCL Health is funding the entire buildout.

“We really think that it’s worth it and feel that this place can really grow, and the only way this place grows is by treating patients appropriately,” Anderson said. “This will allow us to treat those patients at a higher level than before.”

St. Mary’s will hire between eight and 10 new staff for the new center. Those include an electrophysiology specialist, a structural heart specialist and two vascular surgeons, one of whom is already on board.

The construction is projected to have a $90 million benefit to the Grand Valley economy, with more than a third of that money coming from outside of the area, according to a study conducted by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Additionally, the new employees at the hospital are expected to bring in $1.6 million in payroll benefits to the local economy, which could grow to $3.8 million in a few years. The dollars will help bolster the sales tax and property tax bases, which helps the economy overall, Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart said during the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We’re seeing signs of economic development improvement in many places and many industries across valley, and a shot in the arm like this comes at a very opportune time,” Taggart said. 

The project is the largest undertaking at St. Mary’s since the $339 million 12-story tower was completed, according to Davidson. It is the largest capital project in Grand Junction since Community Hospital opened its new facility in 2016 and is the biggest project on the horizon in the valley, according to GJEP Executive Director Kristi Pollard.

“This is a $48.5 million capital project. It’s one of the larger ones we’ve seen in the Grand Valley in quite a while here,” Pollard said. “It’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal.”


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