Hospital District Concludes Phase One Pre-Design Phase for New Facility, Approves Conceptual Plan

May 7, 2015 (TELLURIDE) — Nine years ago, Telluride Hospital District (THD) officials and administrators began their search for a new site for the region’s health care needs, driven by the aim to find a site that could accommodate the area’s projected growth and before the region’s limited buildable sites were developed. Last month the THD took one step closer to bringing that vision to fruition when they closed Phase One of a new facility’s pre-design phase and voted on a conceptual plan.

Mahlum Architects, a firm selected by THD to execute the initial planning and pre-design phases for the proposed new medical center in Mountain Village, presented their findings and recommendations from their services engagement at a special board meeting held at Mountain Village’s Town Hall.

THD Board President, Larry Mallard, said he believes the $24 million project will transform the region’s health care for the better.

“When I look at what we have now and the quality of care we provide and what we’ll be able to accomplish at the new facility, I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Mahlum’s presentation included projected costs and three models for conceptual plans: a building that would facilitate only what TMC offers today (20,000-square feet); an extended model that would allow for expanded services (26,000-square-feet); and an expanded conceptual plan that allowed for three additional options of varying shelled space (40,000-square-feet).

Shelled space refers to square footage that is built into the original design, remain unused, and easily be utilized for medical center expansion or for other health care synergies, like physical therapy or mental health services, later.

After discussion, the THD board made a motion to approve the proposed expanded version of the conceptual plan. The three board members present—Larry Mallard, Carol Kammer and Dan Garner—voted in favor, as did Andrew Karow and Richard Cornelius via proxies for a unanimous decision.

Community benefits of the new facility will include overnight hospital beds; a procedure room for minor surgery, such as colonoscopies; new imaging technology; expanded primary and urgent care; room to expand in the future; and financial stability from new revenues.

The new facility will also increase the clinic’s capacity dramatically. Supply and demand issues plague the current Telluride Medical Center (TMC), a 10,000-square-foot remodeled residential building built in the 1960s, in the Depot District of Telluride.

According to TMC’s Capacity Report, TMC is currently experiencing unprecedented growth having accommodated 18,623 patient visits last year, up 11% over the previous year. Patient visits are up 22% over the last five years. TMC reported that in 2014, primary care patient visits pushed the organization to over 96% of capacity.

TMC’s current facility capacity is 220 primary care visits per week (about 11,500 per year). In 2014 annual patient visits for primary care reached 11,077, over 96% utilization of current capacity.

“In practical terms, what this means is that our staff is working at unsustainable levels, routinely working four to five hours beyond their shift to keep up with demands,” said Gordon Reichard, TMC executive director.

TMC has two exam rooms per provider for primary care; according to TMC’s Capacity Report these exam rooms can be occupied for upwards of an hour for purposes other than actual direct contact with the provider.

Medical industry standards recommend three exam rooms per patient.

“We don’t have any dedicated space for imaging waiting, behavioral health consultations or interpretations. These constraints keep patients in exam rooms and create scheduling bottlenecks,” said Reichard.

To help alleviate capacity issues in the short-term TMC administrative offices are scheduled to move off-site sometime this summer to allow for the Primary Care Department to accommodate another provider and to repurpose three administrative offices as exam rooms.

The future site of the region’s medical center—located behind The Market at Mountain Village and Mountain Village Town Hall—was also the preferred site of THD board, a Citizen Advisory Committee, and an independent consultant hired to evaluate potential sites for a medical facility in the region.

Mountain Village Town Council unanimously agreed in January to convey roughly a one-acre parcel to the THD at de minimus cost.

According to Mallard, Phase Two will begin once the new facility funding has been secured and will include many community input opportunities for the facility’s actual design. A funding and feasibility study is planned for this summer and will likely inform the THD board’s decision regarding General Obligation Bond from taxpayers.

THD and several independent consultants have concluded that it is not feasible to remain in the current facility.


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