Medical group proposes new orthopedic surgery and urgent care facility in Dillon
A group of long-time local and regional health care providers are looking to take their talents to Dillon sometime in the near future. The group gave a presentation to the Dillon Town Council during their work session on Tuesday afternoon, providing preliminary designs for a new year-round urgent care and orthopedic surgery center.
The proposed 80-100,000 square foot facility would include mostly familiar faces. The project comes as a result of collaboration between Vail-Summit Orthopaedics, the Steadman Clinic, Vail Health and Howard Head Sports Medicine, all of which have been established in Summit or Eagle counties for decades. The move comes just weeks after St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco announced that it would contract Denver-based Panorama Orthopedics instead of relying on surgeons from Vail-Summit Orthopaedics.
“There have been some changes at St. Anthony,” said Tom Braun, president at Braun Associates. “Long story short, we felt it was in our best interest, and our physicians’ best interest to be autonomous and have our own facility so we can provide the kind of care we have been doing and continue to do in Summit County.”
The group — represented at the meeting by Braun and Craig Cohn, vice president of real estate development at Vail Health — proposed locating the new facility on a five-acre parcel adjacent to the Dillon Ridge Marketplace, near City Market and across from the Skyline Cinema.
“Craig and his team started looking for property in Summit County a year and a half ago,” said Braun. “We looked at least 10 sites all over the county, but it kept coming back to this site. This part of the county is very appealing, access is very good and it’s appropriate for the uses we want to pursue.”
The main focus of the facility would be orthopedic surgery, but it would also open the door for the urgent care facility — which Braun noted the group wouldn’t pursue as a free standing facility, but would work as part of the campus — as well as physical therapy and other services.
“A new facility can allow for new services,” said Braun. “For example, changes we made over in Eagle County allow us now to have hip, knee, joint replacement operations going on that we didn’t used to have. We can build this facility to provide different services as well.”
While the project is still in its infancy, Braun and his team believe the facility would be a major boon to the town in a number of ways. First, is the potential for capturing some of the “leakage” of patients heading to the Front Range for surgery.
“We have identified a lot of leakage,” said Braun. “A lot of traffic leaves Summit County to go to Denver for surgery. We’ve identified that through the research we’ve done and we feel there’s potential to capture that and keep them here in Summit County.”
Braun also said the facility could help to capture traffic from destination vacationers, providing a community benefits in the form of increased lodging numbers from a potential influx of destination patients. Braun further noted the potential economic benefits from direct local spending. He promised the addition of 40-60 new high-paying jobs to the community and a new home for long-time regional physicians, which would in turn serve as an economic driver for existing retail and restaurants.
For their part, the town council seemed cautiously optimistic about the proposal. Talking points for the council included the size of the building and wanting to make sure it would match up stylistically with the rest of the area. Another major point of concern for some was the possibility of a Summit Stage transfer point at the facility.
“I think it’s very important to have a bus transfer point,” said Kyle Hendricks, town counselor. “I think Dillon is a very good place for that and I don’t want to lose that possibility for this. So if those things could work together I think that’s great. If not, I have a problem with it.”
Mayor Carolyn Skowyra liked the proposal, but challenged the idea that the hospital could easily capture the “leakage” of patients traveling to Denver, and noted that another 60 employees may exacerbate the existing housing concerns in town.
“I think this is a good community partner to bring into Dillon,” said Skowyra. “It’s a world-class medical group that we could say lives here in town. And one of the things we hear from our economic development team is we need more high paying jobs.
“But I feel like insurance companies encourage people to go to Denver for cheaper services, and employers do the same thing. … You’re still going to have that leakage. The other thing is that 60 new employees are 60 housing units that we don’t have. So that may add to our housing shortage. But overall I do like the concept, and I think the pros outweigh the cons.”
The group hopes to return soon with a formal concept plan for the project, and will seek to engage the public in the process before moving forward. Still, if agreed upon by the council, the group hopes to begin construction sometime next summer.
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