As Vail Valley Medical Center’s comprehensive plan for renovating its Vail campus wends its way through the town’s approval process, we’d like to applaud what looks like a job well done.
From what we’ve seen, the plan takes a thoughtful approach to serious problems that have developed during the medical center’s history.
The biggest of those problems is space, of course. For years now, the medical center, along with Colorado Mountain Medical, the Steadman Clinic, Howard Head Sports Medicine and others have gamely worked to make the best use of the center’s four acres of land. Since that land sits where it does — squarely between Vail Village and Lionshead — the medical center is pretty firmly locked in at the site it has.
That’s led to expansions in Edwards and Eagle and talk several years ago about perhaps moving the medical center’s main campus out of Vail. That balloon was quickly deflated, and town officials have made it a priority to do what they can to keep the medical center in town.
That’s why we believe the medical center’s trip through the town’s approval process will be relatively smooth. That’s not to say we believe that everything in the current plan will receive the town’s blessing — priorities will no doubt diverge on at least a few points, with a new helipad for air ambulances potentially being the most sticky issue. Still, we think there’s enough interest in the big items to bring the medical center and town together fairly quickly.
Those big items are important for all involved, especially moving most medical center traffic — particularly emergency traffic — from West Meadow Drive to South Frontage Road. That’s a matter of public safety and can’t happen soon enough in our view.
Moving the medical center’s emergency department entrance, creating a new front door for the hospital and moving Colorado Mountain Medical are all worthwhile goals, too.
We’re also encouraged that the medical center’s leadership moved ahead of the approval process to recognize that using town land just west of Town Hall for a parking structure would not be affordable. Better to see that now than later and act decisively.
The good news is that while key plans for the medical center’s future require town approval, which will allow the public to take a thorough look. We hope deeper scrutiny sustains our positive view of the plan’s highlights.