It’s not uncommon for Summit County residents to travel to the Front Range or to Vail when in need of a checkup or other health care services.
Residents often cite lower costs or better technology for venturing from home, but for Copper Mountain residents Jan and Monika Skultety, those perceptions are not always reality.
Two weeks ago the Skultetys welcomed their second child, Jaxon, to the world. As was the case with their first son, Charlie — now 18 months old — the Skultetys decided early to have Jaxon delivered at the birth center at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center — their hometown hospital.
However, the decision to stay in Frisco wasn’t driven by simple convenience or a rivalry with a certain town that begins with the letter “V,” but because of the quality of service. St. Anthony Summit has everything expecting parents could want, the Skultetys said, including a friendly and professional staff, as well as a birth center with technology that rivals any hospital in the state.
“Unless you had a reason to go there — like for the birth of a child — you’d never know what a top-notch facility it is,” Jan Skultety said. “It’s clean as a whistle; it’s the most high-tech place I have ever seen. It’s unreal and I think we’re all extremely fortunate to have St. Anthony Hospital here in Summit County.”
The Skultetys moved to Summit County in 2000 from Europe. Jan Skultety, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Frisco, moved to the United States from Slovakia. Monika Skultety, who is an employee of Tucker’s Tavern at Copper Mountain, hails from Poland.
Growing up, the Skultetys said a trip to the hospital could be a stressful experience. Although it might not be the fairest of comparisons, Jan Skultety said St. Anthony doesn’t even feel like a hospital compared with those in Slovakia.
“We’re both from Europe and we know about the hospitals there,” added Monika Skultety. “We have family back there and we hear about the condition of the hospitals. It’s makes you appreciate the level of service here.”
Dr. Javier Gutierrez, an OB/GYN with High Country Healthcare, delivered Charlie and Jaxon Skultety. Gutierrez moved to Summit County in 1998, jumping ship after spending one year in Vail.
Gutierrez remembers the early days when the local birth center was really just a conglomeration of three trailers. Back then an average of 150 to 200 deliveries took place in Summit County.
That all changed on Dec. 7, 2005, with the opening of St. Anthony and its “purpose built,” eight-bed labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum unit. Hospital staffers expect to hit their new annual average of about 400 deliveries this year.
A relatively new concept in health care, the LDRP model shifts the focus away from the physical act of delivering a baby to centering the experience on the needs of the family, said Trixie VanderSchaaff, director of women’s services at St. Anthony. That means there are no set visiting hours and no limitations on the number of visitors a patient can have.
The rooms also resemble those in a hotel and include Jacuzzi tubs, HD TVs, refrigerators and sofas — complete with a pullout bed for family and friends. The hospital features the latest infant warmers, as well as wireless fetal heart monitors, which provide mothers the freedom to roam their room or the halls of the birth center without being confined by wires to their bed.
But delivering babies at 9,000 feet sometimes presents challenges, and perhaps the most significant feature of the local birth facility is the ability for doctors and nurses to stabilize and transport a mother and her baby should there be an unforeseen complication.
The ability to stabilize and transport patient mothers and their newborns is thanks to Flight For Life, which serves 15 counties in the central mountain region, calling St. Anthony its base of operations.
“Should something happen that is beyond the scope of the hospital’s abilities, we have the personnel and the resources to stabilize and transport a baby to a different hospital,” VanderSchaaff said. “If a mother needs transport, it happens very quickly. The need is the same at other hospitals in Steamboat Springs and Vail, but because Flight for Life is here (for them) it’s a much longer process.”
Although the latest technology and access to a facility that feels more like a home than a hospital are attractive perks, Jan Skultety said it’s the people that set St. Anthony apart.
“You’re greeted warmly the moment you walk in the door by everyone, including the security guards and even if you’re walking in at 4 a.m.,” Jan Skultety said. “And Dr. Gutierrez, he’s my hero. He must have delivered thousands of babies and you can tell when you see him working by the bedside — just chewing his gum without a moment of panic in his eyes. We’re really lucky to have him serving Summit County.”