Healthy start for new hospital |

Healthy start for new hospital

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc

FRISCO – Most people don’t get a standing ovation in their lifetime. But Keenan Cooper received one just 27 hours after coming out of the womb.A dozen hospital staff members gave Keenan and his mom, Holli Guzzardo, a standing ovation Wednesday morning because they were the first patients at the Birth Place at St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, Summit Medical Center closed its doors, and the new hospital opened. The first patient came into the hospital at 8 a.m. with a minor emergency. Soon after, another skier injury came in from Breckenridge Ski Area. Doctors operated on the skier, a procedure that would have required transportation to St. Anthony’s in Denver had the new hospital not opened Wednesday, said Paul Chodkowski, hospital administrator.

Guzzardo delivered Keenan at the old Summit Medical Center Tuesday morning but needed to stay overnight Wednesday night to monitor her son for infection. At 11 a.m., she moved to the new hospital.”The whole staff was definitely excited to be coming into a new facility,” Guzzardo said. “The quality is not even comparable. The rooms are two to three times the size, there’s more storage, higher ceilings, a view and a Jacuzzi tub. This is more soothing. It’s like I’m on a mini vacation.”Nurses at the Birth Place adjusted to the new wide-open space Wednesday afternoon. They joked about how they naturally wanted to huddle together, because they were used to working at the Birth Place, which had less room. They raved about their new surroundings.

“We do hospital work in a Hyatt environment,” said nurse Sheila Tatum.By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, hospital staff had treated 31 patients, which was about average activity for the Summit Medical Center, Chodkowski said.As doctors and nurses – which Chodkowski purposely overstaffed on the first day to ensure everything ran smoothly – treated patients, some family members waited on a leather sofa in front of the large stone fireplace. Bernie Barger and his wife drove up from Centennial when they heard their daughter needed emergency surgery on a large growth on her ovary. As they sat waiting to hear how the surgery went Wednesday afternoon, Barger joked, “Aren’t we at a resort?” and his daughter, Misty Higby, mentioned that the atmosphere helped get her mind off worrying.

“It’s more relaxing than an operating waiting room,” Barger said.Throughout the day, receptionist Claudia Martinez answered phone calls, mainly from people asking if the new hospital was open and where it is located.”It’s been hectic,” Martinez said. “No one knows if we’re open or not, so they keep calling.”

As patients came and left, firefighters from Lake Dillon Fire Rescue studied the 95,000 square-foot building so they could respond effectively in case of a fire.”Administration, staff members and physicians all have worked very hard to make this day a reality and provide the community with a state-of-the-art medical facility,” Chodkowski said. “Our staff has responded and provided an extremely positive transition from the existing site, with professionalism and their tradition of caring they’re so noted for.”Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13624, or at

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