Completion of last two floors ends towering effort at St. Mary’s

Dr. Logan McDaneld explains the use of an epilepsy monitoring unit on the newly completed ninth floor of the patient tower at St. Mary’s Medical Center. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Dr. Logan McDaneld explains the use of an epilepsy monitoring unit on the newly completed ninth floor of the patient tower at St. Mary’s Medical Center. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A construction project that lasted for a decade, climbed 12 stories into the Grand Junction sky and ultimately cost nearly $340 million has been completed.

Patients were scheduled to move on July 27 to the ninth and 10th floors of the patient tower at St. Mary’s Medical Center, the final phase of the massive Century Project to expand and renovate the hospital.

“We’re very excited, obviously,” said Doug Aden, chairman of the St. Mary’s board of directors.

Dr. Brian Davidson, president of St. Mary’s, said the project creates what he called a “modern healing environment” for patients and staff.

Construction on the 12-story patient tower at St. Mary’s, along with other additions and renovations at the hospital, began in 2007 and was completed in January 2010. The top four floors were initially left vacant, however, until additional space for patient care was needed.

Work on the top two floors began in 2013 and was completed in 2015 with a rehabilitation unit on the 12th floor and surgical nursing unit on the 11th floor.

Even as the 12th and 11th floors were completed, work was under way on completing a medical unit on the 10th floor and neurological unit on the ninth floor.

The tenth floor unit cares for medical patients, those with illnesses or injuries that require hospitalization.

The ninth floor unit cares for patients who’ve suffered strokes or other brain injuries as well as those suffering from epilepsy.

Dr. Logan McDaneld, a neurologist who serves as medical director of the stroke center at St. Mary’s, said the unit offers services patients previously had to travel to Denver or Salt Lake City to obtain.

Those services include around-the-clock monitoring for seizures that will help in diagnosing and treating epilepsy.

All of the patient rooms on the 10th and ninth floors are private with large bathrooms. Many of the rooms are fitted with mechanical lifts to make it easier to move patients into and out of beds. Sofas and chairs in the room transform into beds for family members who want to spend the night.

Small stations spaced along the hallways allow nurses and other staff to work closer to the patients for which they care.

The floors are decorated with artwork depicting the scenic beauty of the Grand Valley, although windows afford unmatched views of the Bookcliffs, Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa.

The top four floors added a total of 118 patient rooms to St. Mary’s and were completed at a combined cost of $65 million.

The entire tower added 434,000 square feet of new space to the hospital. An additional 75,000 square feet of space was renovated.

The price tag for the completed Century Project came in at $339 million, Aden said. That’s an investment in the long-term health care needs of the region that’s also contributed to the overall economy, he said.

By one estimate, the Century Project infused more than $30 million annually into the economy over the past decade.

FCI Constructors served as general contractor on the Century Project, work that kept crews busy for a decade, said Ed Forsman, president of the Grand Junction-based company. More than 90 percent of project was handled by local workers, suppliers and vendors, he said.

Dan Prinster, vice president of business development for St. Mary’s and primary manager of the Century Project, said the project has enabled the hospital to expand its service lines and in turn bring in additional staff to handle those specialties.

While the Century Project is complete, Prinster said work continues in renovating older sections of the hospital — including what’s proposed as a $50 million project to create a new cardiac center.