Grand Valley hospitals collaborate to offer transitional care

Grand Valley hospitals collaborate to offer transitional care

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Mark Francis, president and chief executive officer of Family Health West, discusses a collaborative effort between Colorado Canyons Hospital in Fruita and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction to offer transitional care. Construction is under way on a $4.5 million addition to Colorado Canyons Hospital to accommodate transitional patients. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Mark Francis, president and chief executive officer of Family Health West, discusses a collaborative effort between Colorado Canyons Hospital in Fruita and St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction to offer transitional care. Construction is under way on a $4.5 million addition to Colorado Canyons Hospital to accommodate transitional patients. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Two Grand Valley hospitals have joined in a collaborative effort to treat so-called transitional patients who no longer require intensive care, but still need rehabilitation and other services.

Construction is under way on a $4.5 million expansion at Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center in Fruita that will add nine rooms and other facilities to accommodate transitional patients.

St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction has joined in the effort in aligning its patient care with the program.

Mark Francis, president and chief executive officer of Family Health West, which operates Colorado Canyons Hospital, said the program and addition fit well with other resources the organization offers, including various forms of rehabilitation as well as assisted-and skilled-care living facilities.

Dr. Brian Davidson, president of St. Mary’s, said the transition program will offer “the right care in the right place at the right time.” In the process, that care will cost half as much and perhaps less, he said.

The Western Healthcare Alliance — a Grand Junction-based collaborative of 29 hospitals in Colorado and Utah, including Colorado Canyons and St. Mary’s — suggested the program.

Mark Francis
Mark Francis

“We are so pleased to have spotted this solution for transitional patient care. We are even more thankful that St. Mary’s and Colorado Canyons embraced the model and are collaborating to develop a local program for our own communities,” said Angelina Salazar, a spokeswoman for the Western Healthcare Alliance. “We believe it is the start of something that can work for many hospitals in our state.”

Francis and Davidson announced the collaborative transition program and then joined in a groundbreaking ceremony where the addition will be constructed on the north side of Colorado Canyons Hospital.

Transitional care offers a way to treat patients whose medical conditions have stabilized, but aren’t yet ready to return home. Other patients could need specialized rehabilitation or ventilation programs.

Brian Davidson
Brian Davidson

The problem, Davidson said, is there have been limited opportunities to obtain that kind of care in the Grand Valley or Western Colorado. Consequently, St. Mary’s and other hospitals tend to continue caring for those patients when their needs could be better met elsewhere and at a lower cost. “It’s not our core competency.”

The situation also has led to circumstances in which St. Mary’s has had to turn away patients because there was no room for them in its intensive care unit, he said.

The collaboration with Colorado Canyons will fill that gap and keep patients closer to home and their families, Davidson said. “It just made sense. It’s the right thing to do.”

Francis said the expansion will add 8,000 square feet of space to Colorado Canyons Hospital, including nine patient rooms as well as physical and respiratory therapy facilities and a renovated pharmacy.

Construction is scheduled for completion in January and will cost about $3.5 million, Francis said. The project also will include about $1 million in equipment.

An additional 15 to 25 staff positions will be needed when the addition opens, he said.

The expanded facilities will add to an operation Francis described as a medical home that offers health care services to everyone from newborns to the elderly.

In addition to the hospital, Family Health West operates outpatient clinics offering arthritis care, infusion services, orthopedics and sports medicine, pain management and podiatry. Family Health West also operates assisted- and skilled-care living facilities.