Building a healthy affiliation: Project brings together medical practices and hospital

An architectural rendering shows what the new office building at the Canyon View Medical Plaza in Grand Junction will look like when the $25 million structure is completed early next year. Construction is expected to begin later this year on the second phase of the project — a new, $45 million facility for Community Hospital.

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Dr. Mitch Copeland foresees a lot of advantages to relocating the orthopedics and sports medicine practice with which he works to a new and larger medical office building that will be shared with other Grand Valley practices.

“There’ll be a lot of facilities under one roof, a lot of services under one roof,” Copeland says.

Chris Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Community Hospital, says he’s equally anxious to not only operate some of the facilities and services under that same roof, but also construct a brand new hospital in an adjoining building.

The end result of the collaborative effort at the Canyon View Medical Plaza should include increased efficiencies and decreased costs for health care providers and the hospital, Copeland and Thomas say, as well as increased convenience and decreased costs for patients.

Given the sweeping changes coming to the industry as federal health care reforms demand improved outcomes at lower costs, the timing couldn’t be more significant, Thomas says. “We’re all going to be pushed, every piece of the system.”

Construction is expected to be completed early next year on a $25 million medical office building, the first phase of the Canyon View Medical Plaza located near G and 23 1/2 roads in Grand Junction.

The two-story, 90,000-square-foot building will house Western Orthopedics and Sports Medicine as well as Urological Associates of Western Colorado, Surgical Associates of Western Colorado and Mesa Women’s Health Care.

Mitchell Copeland

Community Hospital will operate an outpatient imaging center, retail pharmacy and urgent care clinic in the building.

The doctors and hospital also will open a new surgery center in the building, replacing the First Choice Outpatient Surgery Center the hospital operates on Patterson Road.

Construction is expected to begin late this year on the second phase of the project — a new and larger Community Hospital.

With four stories offering a total of 136,000 square feet, the new facility not only will be 50 percent bigger than the existing hospital on 12th Street, but laid out in a far better fashion. Thomas says.

Since the buildings take up only a portion of the 40-acre site, there’ll be ample room to expand or even construct additional buildings, Thomas says. “We really tried to make something that is a 50-year, 60-year decision.”

Chris Thomas

A new location and building for Community Hospital long has been planned, but the schedule was set when Colorado Mesa University purchased the 8-acre site the hospital currently occupies at 12th Street and Orchard Avenue. The $7.1 million deal expedited the construction of the new hospital while providing more space for a growing university campus.

Community Hospital in turn purchased the building across 12th Street that currently houses Western Orthopedics and will use that space to retain a presence in the area.

At the Canyon View Medical Plaza, the new medical office building represents a venture involving the doctors who will practice there, Community Hospital and a developer. The new surgery center represents a separate venture involving the doctors and hospital, Thomas says.

Copeland says the new building will offer what Western Orthopedics needs in a much larger facility with a good location, easy access and plentiful parking.

Western Orthopedics will occupy about 16,000 square feet in the new building, nearly double what’s available in what’s become cramped quarters in the existing building, Copeland says.

With the added space, Western Orthopedics likely will expand its staff, starting this fall with a doctor who specializes in treating the hands and wrists, Copeland says.

The new facility also will feature a new magnetic resonance imaging machine and digital X-ray equipment that produce better images faster and at a lower cost, he adds. And a new procedure room will allow doctors to perform minor procedures on patients without having to leave the office.

The new building housing Community Hospital will adjoin the medical office building.

While Community Hospital will remain licensed to offer 78 beds, the new building initially will include 44 private rooms, Thomas says.

The new facility will be geared toward providing such out-patient services as colonoscopies, imaging studies and same-day surgeries that account for more than 70 percent of activity at the hospital, Thomas says.

At the same time, though, Community Hospital will offer additional services in the new building, he adds. “We’re going to deliver babies again.”

Thomas also expects an emergency room designated as a level four trauma facility to be upgraded to level three to handle a larger range of injuries.

Thomas says one of the things he’s most excited about in constructing a new hospital is the opportunity to design it from scratch to not only better meet the needs of patients, but do so more efficiently and at lower costs.

Proper patient flow is a priority, he says. A single, curving corridor will run through the medical office building and hospital to offer easy access to all the facilities from just two entrances. The goal, he adds, is to quickly get patients in, provide the services they need and then send them home.

Most of the medical services will be located on the first floor of the hospital for ease of access, while patient rooms will be located on the upper floors away from that activity.

Back on the first floor, an urgent care clinic will be available to treat minor illnesses and injuries. And a unit will be set up patients who might need an hour or two of observation after treatment in the urgent care clinic or emergency room, but don’t need to be admitted to the hospital. “We’re trying to take care of patients in the most cost-efficient setting,” Thomas says.

Flexibility will be built into the design and, ultimately, the hospital, to expand or relocate certain facilities with a minimum of disruption, he adds.

Locating such a range of medical practices, services and facilities in one location offers considerable convenience to patients, Copeland and Thomas say.

Copeland says a patient who requires an MRI or X-Ray image, laboratory testing, a treatment or surgery and then a prescription for pain medication will be able to access all those services with nothing more than a short trip down a corridor.

At the same time, though, the doctors and hospital will realize efficiencies and savings associated with shared services — information technology and janitorial services, for example.

Thomas says the close proximity will allow doctors and hospital staff to work more closely together in making decisions about not only what’s best for patients, but also what’s most cost-effective. “We’ll get to figure out how we work together better.”

Thomas estimates that doctors, hospitals and other health care providers will have to cut costs 12 percent to 14 percent over the next four to five years as federal health care reforms are implemented.


For more information about the Canyon View Medical Plaza and a web camera monitoring construction there, visit