The only hospital in the country’s highest incorporated city is thriving after near-closure 7 years ago
Leadville officials hope the hospital can be an economic engine for the once-booming mining town
The Colorado Sun
When the only hospital in Leadville started to close down seven years ago, officials in the highest incorporated city in the country worried they would lose their “heart and soul.”
There were layoffs in the nursing department. Extended care patients were moved to nursing homes. A Leadville City Council member feared retirees would flee to other areas with more accessible medical care.
“To lose people who can’t live here anymore because they don’t have health care that they can rely on, that would have been a big blow to us,” said Greg Labbe, the council member who is now Leadville’s mayor.
But instead of closing, the once-booming mining town has seen the historic St. Vincent hospital in Leadville come back from the brink of financial ruin with the opening this month of a new facility where ailing patients can have surgery and access specialists they used to drive an hour to see.
It’s nothing short of a “stunning accomplishment” for a struggling hospital started by Kansas nuns in the 1870s, Labbe said. And it’s a boon for the mountain city, which saw the decline of a mine empty its commercial district decades ago, only to claw its way back through outdoor recreation, heritage tourism and pandemic-fueled population growth.
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