Work begins to turn soon-to-be-vacated hospital into CMU health science facility

Construction has begun on a project to turn a soon-to-be vacated hospital into the new home of the health sciences program at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

Work is underway to remodel a portion of Community Hospital on 12th Street as the first step in revamping the 50-year-old building and surrounding property in a project expected to cost $14.7 million.

For now, hospital administrators have moved into temporary quarters across 12th street. But in mid-March, the entire hospital operation is scheduled to move into a newly constructed facility on a site near 23 1/2 and G roads. The new building will offer a total of 140,000 square feet over four floors and room for what initially will be 44 private rooms.

CMU purchased the 8-acre Community Hospital site on 12th Street in 2011 for $7.1 million and already has used a portion of the property to construct a residence hall.

“Occasionally, opportunity and a vision collide at a fortuitous moment, and that is exactly what has happened with Colorado Mesa and Community Hospital,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “We each had a vision. Theirs includes a wonderful new facility. Ours includes room to expand our health sciences program and campus. We have closed on the property. They will soon move to their new building. Construction has begun, and we are both closer to achieving our respective visions.”

In revamping the old hospital, CMU plans to remodel about 24,000 square feet of the facility, add 10,000 square feet in new construction and demolish about 50,000 square feet of the older portions of the building.

The eastern portion of the project, which will include classroom and staff space, is scheduled for completion Jan. 1, with work on the remainder to be finished by August 2017. Inside, the project will include more classrooms and instructional laboratories. Outside, the grounds will include green spaces and an intermural field.

The state allocated $3 million toward this project last year. CMU is contributing a little more than $2 million and is requesting the remaining $9.2 million from the state to complete the work.

Debra Bailey, director of health sciences at CMU, said the new facility will add to a program in which 100 percent of nursing students who graduate have landed jobs. “Expanding the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs at Colorado Mesa University will increase employable graduates available and help Colorado take a step toward meeting the internal capacity to educate nurses and meet the needs of Colorado residents,” Bailey said.