‘New era’ in healthcare dawns in Eagle
The days of driving 60 miles round trip for specific medical services may be coming to an end for downvalley residents. A quiet land dedication ceremony last week started the clock ticking on a new medical campus west of the Eagle Ranch commercial district on Capitol Street.Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and Vail Valley Medical Center in Vail have forged a partnership that, over the next 20 years, is expected to develop a facility that will eventually include medical offices, an 82-bed hospital wing and a 32-bed assisted living facility.Eagle Ranch developers “gifted” the 14 acre parcel of land, originally slated for development of homes, to the two hospitals for the development of the Eagle Healthcare Center.”It wasn’t that long ago that if you saw a doctor in Eagle, he or she was a visiting doctor … we have come a long way – this is a big step forward for the town of Eagle,” said Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell at the handing-over-of-the-deed ceremony last week.”This is the dawn of a new era in terms of the provision of medical service for the residents of Eagle and the whole western Eagle County community,” he added.Phase I: medical officesThe Eagle Healthcare Center will be a phased development, with some aspects of the project, such as the hospital bed wing, diagnostics treatment center, and the assisted living facility slated for the later phases.Construction will begin within 18 months on the first phase, a 20,000-square-foot medical building that will include doctors offices, diagnostic imaging and physical therapy. Cost of that first building is expected to be in the $5 million range.”The first phase will lead into other services as the community grows,” said Stan Anderson, senior vice president for Vail Valley Medical Center. At this point, officials are not ready to suggest dates when construction might begin on future phases.
Currently, each hospital operates separate medical clinics in Eagle. Gary Brewer, chief executive officer for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood, said directors of the two hospitals saw value in consolidating services and creating some economic efficiencies by sharing a physical facility and equipment.”When you walk in the front door here, you won’t see two companies competing. You will see a clinic, and it will be Eagle’s clinic,” he added.Doug Tisdale, chairman of the newly created Eagle Healthcare Center board, said the two hospitals realized they could do something together far better than either entity could do alone.”This is a case where, clearly, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he said.Joint ventures are common these days, Anderson said. For example, Vail Valley Medical Center shares a joint facility with a Breckenridge medical group. Making it happenOfficials from both hospitals are quick to credit the generosity of Eagle Ranch and West Eagle LLC, the Eagle Ranch development company, for donating the 14-acre parcel of land for medical center use. Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney credited former Eagle Mayor Roxie Deane, who is also the manager of Valley View Hospital’s Eagle Valley Medical Center, with setting the “spark” between a developer with land and two hospitals with money.Stavney said the project will create some high-end employment opportunities that will also benefit the western end of the valley.Because the parcel was originally designated for single-family housing, building the meidcal center required approval of the Eagle Town Board.”For us it made sense. It was one more additional element that makes the community more whole, makes it the kind of place people want to live,” said Eagle Ranch General Manager Gary Martinez.The hospitals will seek final approvals within the next 12 months, and construction should start within 18 months. If the review process goes well, that process could be accelerated.”We have done a lot of things in the past few years … but when we get these buildings built, it is going to be one big step toward making the town of Eagle a full-service community,” said Powell.
Eagle correspondent David L’Heureux contributed to this story.==========================================Eagle Healthcare CenterHere’s what is planned for the phased development. Build-out is expected to continue over a period of about 20 years:• Site area: 14 acres• Four medical office buildings• 28,000 square feet of hospital services facilities• 75,000 square foot hospital bed wings (80 beds) and ancillary spaces• 18,000 square foot assisted living facility (32 beds)==========================================
==========================================A clinic, a banner and a needWhen it comes to medical facilities, Eagle has an innovative history.In the mid-1960s, community leaders were frustrated by the lack of medical facilities and the lack of a local doctor. Employing something of an “if we build it, they will come” philosophy, Eagle kicked-off a huge fund-raising effort for construction of a medical facility on a parcel of land located at the corner of Sixth Street and Broadway, where the library now stands).Eagle Valley Enterprise editor Marilla McCain was one of the community ringleaders, and she kept up an aggressive publicity campaign, urging the local community to donate. Fund-raising events ranged from rummage sales staged by the Dandelions (the female counterparts of the Lions’ Club) to dinners, dances, memorial contributions and generous donations from individuals and businesses.By the end of 1964, the campaigned had raised $16,782 in cash. Local tradesmen stepped up to offer skills and labor to construct a facility valued at $30,000. The clinic, a modest brick building, was constructed over a period of about a year. A nonprofit governing organization, the Eagle Clinic Board, was set up to run the facility. Sure enough, a resident doctor and dentist settled in.In 1970, however, the doctor left town.Community leaders put their heads together. Pharmacist Al Hoza suggested billboard advertising. That idea evolved into a banner declaring “Eagle Needs a Doctor” that was strung across Highway 6 on the west end of Eagle.The Denver newspapers picked up the story; then a United Press International reporter took a picture of the banner, and wrote a story about the need for a doctor. The story was released from New York, and the Eagle Valley Clinic Board soon received responses from people all over the United States, but only two inquiries from doctors. Eventually, the Clinic Board worked out an agreement to contract medical services into the clinic from both Vail and Glenwood Springs.In 1996, a new medical clinic was built in the Eagle Commercial Park, and the old clinic site was sold to the library district. The community-built clinic was torn down.- Kathy Heicher==========================================