Construction under way on primary care clinic

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Construction is under way on a Grand Junction clinic intended to increase access to primary health care services and decrease the use of emergency rooms.

Bryan Johnson

“The right care in the right place makes for more effective care,” said Bryan Johnson, president of St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction.

SCL Health, the organization that operates St. Mary’s, plans to open a new primary care clinic in mid-2021 and eventually employ 28 health care providers there. SCL Health opened a primary care clinic earlier this year in leased space near St. Mary’s, but will relocate the practice when the new facility opens.

Located at 2566 Patterson Road, the new clinic will initially occupy about 10,000 square foot. But an additional 10,000 square feet of space will be available for subsequent expansion. The project is expected to cost $4.5 million.

Dale Beede, the broker of Straight Up Real Estate in Grand Junction, is developing the property. PNCi Construction serves as general contractor.

“Nearly 100 percent of this complex is being built and sourced locally,” said Frank DeSantis, president of PNCi Construction. “We are proud to be able to keep this project with local workers and tradesmen. It’s a big benefit to our local economy.”

Lee Syphus

Lee Syphus, vice president of medical group operations for SCL Health in Western Colorado, said the clinic will meet local health care needs in increasing access to primary care services.

Syphus said the results of a community health needs assessment conducted in Mesa County identified the inability to schedule appointments at doctor’s offices as soon as needed as the top barrier to getting care. “We see what as a call to action.”

Moreover, about a quarter of emergency room visits involve cases that could be handled in a primary care clinic, he said.

Johnson said the clinic will fill gaps in care without using emergency rooms and what he said is the most expensive setting in which to provide services.

Dr. Elizabeth Buisker, medical director of the St. Mary’s Medical Group, said a more proactive approach works better. “When my job is done well, we keep people out of the hospital.”

In addition to providing health care benefits, the new clinic and other facilities like it offer other benefits, said Robin Brown, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Health care facilities help in recruiting and retaining businesses in Mesa County, Brown said. “This is another example of that investment.”