Hospital tells city of timeline for facility on G Road

With future demand, a shift in service needs and health care system changes in mind, Community Hospital has funding ready and is hoping to break ground soon on the first phase of its new facility off G Road.

“We’ve outgrown the old building,” Chris Thomas, hospital president and CEO, told the Grand Junction City Council on Monday during its work session.

Thomas explained details of a project that will move the hospital from the current property on 12th Street, purchased by Colorado Mesa University for expansion, and he discussed the need for the city’s help with drainage and road access. The new hospital and medical office building will be located on the 40 acres already owned along G and 23½ roads.

Phase one that will occupy about six acres of the property is budgeted at $20 to $25 million. It is a two-story, 90,000-square-foot medical office building that is a partnership, housing a number of local physician groups, including orthopedic doctors and obstetrician-gynecologists. It is expected to be complete in December 2013.

The second phase, with a possible timeline of two years, is a four-story hospital that will take Community from a level four to a level three trauma center, meaning an increased ability to serve. The 130,000- square-foot facility — about 40,000 square feet larger than the current one — is expected to cost about $60 million.

If the community does not gear up for the future, emergency patients could see waits of five hours or more, Thomas said.

“Community Hospital’s demise is greatly exaggerated,” he said, explaining that its services have shifted, but that revenue in the last couple years has been positive.

Technological changes have meant about 71 percent of Community’s services are outpatient. The other big shift is that Medicare and Medicaid together make up about half of the business the hospital does.

And those numbers are growing quickly. In fact, Medicaid is expected to increase by 40 percent in four to six years, and the majority of Mesa County residents could become eligible, at least on a sliding scale, Thomas said.

They are also seeing a large increase in patients who don’t have doctors.

“We think we are way underserved for primary care docs,” Thomas said, adding they are hoping to draw new ones to Grand Junction.

Along with the move, Community Hospital is working to have neighborhood physicians and services in other areas. For example, when the current services move from First Choice Outpatient Surgery Center, 2596 F Road, the building will be used as an outpatient therapy center. The move of the Western Orthopedic and Sports Medicine practice to the new building will mean a CMU student health center near the university.

Council members remarked that this an “exciting” project and expressed interest in working cooperatively with the hospital on road and drainage concerns.

Primary access to the new health care center will be off G Road in the short term, and a third lane is needed, Thomas said.

The city slated $300,000 in next year’s budget for G Road improvements and about $500,000 in the 2014 budget, but that won’t cover it all, city officials said.

Councilman Tom Kenyon said the area of G Road alongside this project should be a priority as ambulances will need access. However, that need is not anticipated to happen before the fall of 2014.

The eight acres where Community Hospital currently sits was bought by Colorado Mesa University for $7.1 million. On one portion of the property the university built a student residential facility that is now open. When the hospital relocates, the other pieces of the property are expected to be used for additional student housing and academic space, likely health science programs, said Dana Nunn, media relations director for the university.


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