Count on health care and air travel as blessings

Grand Valley business owners counting their blessings can add two more items to what’s likely lengthy lists —  an expanding health care industry and a regional airport with improving facilities and more connections.

This issue of the Business Times covers both those items in stories reporting the opening of a medical center at the Colorado Canyons Hospital in Fruita and updating developments at the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

While the stories are new, the subject matter isn’t. What remains most remarkable is the extent of health care and commercial air services in what’s still a comparably small community. It really is the best of both worlds.

The opening of the 20,000-square-foot medical center in Fruita constitutes only the latest expansion in health care services. St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction opened a new heart and vascular center. Grand Valley Oncology in Grand Junction received designation as an accredited cancer center. And it wasn’t all that long ago Community Hospital in Grand Junction opened its brand new facility.

There’s good reason for complaints over the rising costs of health care and health insurance — not to mention the paperwork and regulations that have besieged the health care industry.

There’s no reason, though, to complain about the accessibility in the Grand Valley of services previously only available in big cities. Health care administrators and provider reiterate that’s the point: Local care is better care.

Meanwhile, work continues to improve facilities and services at the Grand Junction Regional Airport. That includes renovations at the terminal as well as a massive, long-term project to construct a new primary runway.

Here’s something that’s worth repeating. Grand Junction Regional Airport offers regular, non-stop service to Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Seasonal service adds Chicago and Los Angeles to the list. That level of service makes Grand Junction unique among airports serving smaller markets.

But efforts continue to bring additional flights to the airport. There’s the possibility of turning seasonal service to Chicago to daily service as well as adding service to San Francisco.

Fares remain high for flights out of Grand Junction. But there are indications those fares are starting to come down.

Access to health care services can and often does constitute a matter of life-or-death. Access to air service is usually more a matter of convenience, but an important matter nonetheless.

It’s about business, too, in so many ways.

The health care industry and airport both play increasingly important roles in the Grand Valley in providing jobs as well as bringing people and money to the area. Construction projects at local health care facilities and the airport contribute even more to the economy. In addition, good health care and commercial air service rank among the important factors in promoting economic development and attracting businesses and still more jobs to the area.

Nothing’s perfect, of course. There’s no shortage of problems associated with health care or air travel. Just ask patients or passengers.

But access to the extent of health care and commercial air services offered in the Grand Valley are, truly, blessings.

Count them.