Pact signed for 25-bed hospital near Frisco |

Pact signed for 25-bed hospital near Frisco

Christine McManus

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County is one giant step closer to gaining a new local hospital.

St. Anthony’s Hospitals and its parent company, Centura Health, plan to begin constructing a 75,000 square-foot hospital in June at the County Commons near Frisco, with an opening date scheduled for December 2005.

The big announcement Thursday was long awaited by residents and by paramedics, nurses and doctors who work at the existing Summit Medical Center in Frisco.

All emergency patients who need hospitalization currently must go to Vail or Denver, after their conditions are stabilized.

“The (existing) Summit Medical Center has needed to transform itself into a community hospital for a long time,” said George Zara, chief executive officer of St. Anthony’s Hospitals. “We’re all very excited about expanding upon our 25 years of local service to Summit County residents. This is just the beginning.”

After the $40 million hospital is finished, all Summit Medical Center services, employees and equipment will move one mile southeast from Summit Boulevard and School Road to the County Commons.

Even with a $1 million upgrade completed last year, the center is crowded and has not kept up with the population growth the past decade.

New hospital services

The hospital would include 12 medical and surgical beds, four intensive care beds, inpatient surgery, a Level III trauma center (upgraded from the existing nonsurgery Level IV), a larger and more efficient 16-bed emergency department, nine maternity beds, inpatient pharmacy, expanded radiology, Flight for Life helicopter pads, kitchen/cafeteria and a 200-car parking lot.

“This will give Flight for Life better quarters and the ability to offer 24-hour flight services eventually,” said helicopter nurse Julie Kelble, who worked on many of the 420 daytime flights between the central Rocky Mountains and Denver from July 2002 to June 2003. “More patients will be able to stay here in the county.”

“We’re going from two labor rooms to nine, which we’re very excited about. We’ll also be doubling our nursery size,” said Jill Boyle, labor and delivery supervisor whose community nurses must know how to take care of mothers and babies in all stages of labor, unlike nurses at major metro hospitals who specialize in just labor, post-partum or nursery care, for example.

Possible medical campus

The hospital site eventually might be the anchor of a medical campus where residents can visit doctors who specialize in obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, family medicine, physical therapy, cardiology and dental care, said Dr. Peter Janes in a press release from St. Anthony’s.

Although the doctor was out of town during the announcement Thursday, he and Dr. Dennis Flint are working with other doctors to develop a medical office building.

Doctors, developers and other health providers want to build a total of three other buildings at the County Commons on 19 acres the county commissioner acquired this year in a land trade with the U.S. Forest Service.

A 30,000-square-foot medical office building, a 10,000 square-foot ambulatory surgery center and an 11,000 square-foot community care clinic are in the works.

“By having the hospital, medical office building and ambulatory surgical center centralized, we will create one of the best campuses for health care in the region,” Dr. Janes said.

New jobs

Nearly 90 employees work at Summit Medical Center. The hospital would need an estimated 30-40 additional employees.

About 200 construction jobs will be created during the 18-month construction period from June 2004 until December 2005.

Other services

No abortions or voluntary vasectomies will be performed at the hospital or planned buildings. People who want such services still must go to Denver, Vail or Boulder. Centura and St. Anthony’s have ethical and religious directives based on Roman Catholic principles that prohibit such services.

The County Public Health department will continue to provide family planning services such as birth control, sexually transmitted disease prevention education and cancer prevention/detection services.

That portion of public health responsibilities will likely merge into a community health clinic that might eventually be located in the medical office building near the hospital.

Letter of intent signed

Summit County Commissioners signed a letter of intent to lease 12 of the 19 acres behind the library at the County Commons to St. Anthony’s Hospitals, where lodgepole pines stand now.

The parcel sits on the west side of the bike path. The bike path will be relocated farther to the west, behind the new complex.

County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said the county will follow through this time on the hospital, unlike a botched attempt to bring a 50-bed hospital to the county in 1973.

The commissioners and others in the medical community have worked for years to bring a hospital to Summit County. The commissioners credited county manager Ron Holliday and county planner Lindsay Hirsh for following through with negotiations between doctors, St. Anthony’s and the county.

Real estate planning

St. Anthony’s owns the current Summit Medical Center and the land beneath it, and the adjacent doctors office building.

Officials said competing health services are not planned for the site once the center moves into the new hospital. St. Anthony’s owns community health care facilities in Denver, Winter Park, Frisco and Granby.

The new hospital will be built with major expansion plans in mind for the future as Summit County’s population grows.

Public comment sought

The Ten Mile Planning Commission will begin to review a rezoning proposal Nov. 13, after an open house from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Commissioners encouraged the public and health care workers to the open house.

Christine McManus can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or

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