Phil Castle, The Business Times
Chris Thomas leads a tour through lobbies, down hallways and into rooms, pointing out various features along the way. With the occasional exception of a few construction workers completing finishing touches and Thomas’ ongoing narrative, the spaces remain vacant and quiet.
It’s the last calm before a storm of activity.
If everything goes as planned, early on the morning of March 17 these spaces will fill with the bustle of doctors, nurses and others providing a range of health care services to patients. The old Community Hospital will close and a brand new Community Hospital will take its place.
Thomas has been waiting for this moment since he was hired as president and chief executive officer in 2008. The move has been a long time coming, but also afforded the opportunity for a slow and deliberate process to design and build a hospital from scratch, he said. “We had a blank sheet of paper.”
The lines that initially appeared on architectural drawings since have materialized into a four-story building near 23 1/2 and G roads on the west side of Grand Junction that’s not only much larger than the former hospital, but also laid out in a better and more efficient fashion, Thomas said. Form follows the new functions of the facility.
Thomas began a tour of the new hospital in a spacious lobby and long, curving hallway dubbed “Front Street” that affords quick access to various outpatient services, including colonoscopies, imaging studies and same-day surgical procedures. The hallway also connects with a medical office building that opened in 2014.
A separate corridor called “Main Street” runs the length of the new hospital, but will be used by health care providers rather than patients, Thomas said.
A cafeteria named the Flying Pig Cafe is located just off the lobby as are a gift shop, coffee shop, conference rooms and a library.
The first floor also houses an emergency department that can accommodate a 50 percent increase in visits over what was available in the old hospital. The department will be upgraded from a Level 4 to a Level 3 trauma center, meaning the new hospital has the capacity to handle more serious cases, Thomas said.
The radiology department is located adjacent to the emergency department, making it quick and easy to take the X-rays and other images used to diagnose injuries and ailments.
“Having them next to each other is a big deal,” Thomas said.
The second floor of the new hospital includes an intensive care unit, in-patient pharmacy, laboratory and pathology department.
The third floor houses a new childbirth facility with private suites that accommodate labor, delivery and postpartum care. An operating room is available to handle cesarean section deliveries A separate entrance and elevator to the third floor offer more convenient access to expectant mothers and their families. With the new facility, Community Hospital will offer labor and delivery services for the first time in 15 years.
More rooms are located on the fourth floor to care for patients who are ill or recovering from surgery. The fourth floor also houses an in-patient physical therapy facility.
The new hospital will initially house 44 rooms, all of them private.
While the new hospital offers a total of more than 140,000 square feet of space over four floors, the new facility is designed to easily accommodate growth, Thomas said. Facilities on the first floor can be expanded into what’s n0w a courtyard or added to the perimeter of the building. Offices and a conference room on the third floor can be relocated to enlarge the childbirth facility.
The construction budget for the new Community Hospital totaled $49.5 million, with an additional $10 million for land, permits and fees and another $9.5 million for equipment, Thomas said.
Part of those costs were defrayed by the sale in 2011 of the existing hospital on 12th Street to Colorado Mesa University for $7.1 million. CMU used a portion of the 8-acre site for a new residence hall and already has begun work on a project to renovate the former hospital to house the health sciences program.
The move to the new hospital is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. March 17, when patients will be transferred by ambulance from the old to the new facility. At the conclusion of what’s expected to be a two- to three-hour process, the Community Hospital that operated on 12th Street for 50 years will close.
Karen Martsoff, director of marketing and communications for Community Hospital, described the new facility in a single word: “spectacular.”
“We could just not be more excited about the continued growth and success of our hospital,” Martsoff said.