St. Mary’s investment keeps profits at home

Grand Junction’s medical offerings continue to evolve at a healthy clip with a goal of keeping patients in the Grand Valley for specialized care instead of sending them to Denver or Salt Lake City for treatment.

Just a month ago, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Fruita’s Colorado Canyons Hospital announced a partnership for a long-term recovery program. St. Mary’s patients who are ready to leave the intensive care unit, but not yet ready to go home, can convalesce at the Fruita hospital after a $4.5 million expansion is completed.

The Transitional Care Program will keep St. Mary’s patients from either having to be transferred to a larger city or taking up a bed in the ICU and racking up a bigger bill when they would be better suited elsewhere.

That theme was repeated in a new St. Mary’s venture with a decidedly bigger economic punch. Hospital officials and civic leaders broke ground Thursday on a new $48 million center for heart and vascular health.

St. Mary’s President Brian Davidson estimates 60 to 100 patients who are dealing with arrhythmia or other heart issues are sent to either Salt Lake City or Denver for their care. The new 46,000 square-foot building will include a total upgrade of the cardiovascular medical unit, allowing for less invasive procedures.

The project — a reinvestment of profits earned at the hospital as opposed to proceeds from a local fundraising campaign — is a boon to the community in several ways. It’s expected to have a $90 million economic impact, with a majority of work to be completed by local contractors.

It allows the hospital to treat patients at a higher level and keep them at home, which enhances the family and community support so helpful for recovery. When family must travel great distances to support an ill patient, it can be more than a hardship during Colorado’s notorious winters.

The expanded heart unit also means more high-wage jobs will come on line, which could provide $3.8 million in payroll benefits to the local economy within several years.

It’s a great investment and appropriate, too, given the healthy amount of money St. Mary’s pushes to its bottom line every year.

Nonprofits, as a matter of law, have no owners. They’re owned by the communities they serve. St. Mary’s is part of a corporate structure that makes it a subsidiary of SCL Health, which was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. But that’s not ownership.

We can take pride that an enormously profitable hospital is putting some of its proceeds back into its operation for the betterment of the community. Keeping dollars in this community is just as important as keeping patients.


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