Vail wants to keep hospital in town |

Vail wants to keep hospital in town

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” The Vail Valley Medical Center has an economic impact on Vail, Colorado, and the town wants to find out just how much.

The Vail Town Council will discuss commissioning an economic impact study on the hospital next Tuesday, and the results might make a case for keeping the hospital in town, Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler said.

The hospital, which is between Vail Village and Lionshead, has outgrown its space and has discussed expanding downvalley.

The study would look at all the medical center’s impacts, not only in patient services, but from it’s associated clinics, such as Steadman Hawkins, and it’s employees who live, shop and eat in town, Zemler said.

“It’s good to know what economic contributions they make to the town of Vail,” he said. “We’re lobbying for it to stay and expand in Vail.”

The council will also continue talks about possible uses for $9.7 million originally collected for a town conference center.

The money was collected over three years from a lodging fee and a sales tax approved by voters. The town went back to voters after it became clear that more money would be needed, and residents did not reapprove the taxes.

The original intent was for the conference center to put “heads in beds” at local lodges and bring visitors to town, especially during the off-season. Now, the council must decide how best to use the money ” if council members decide to use the money for another purpose, the issue would go to a public vote, possibly as soon as this November.

Several ideas have been thrown out, including a rec center or a wellness center.

A group of local residents, including physician Jack Eck, former town councilman Greg Moffet and several businessmen from the lodging community, are suggesting the money be used for a center focused on “medical education and lifestyle issues.”

The center would provide continuing medical education and programs for people interested in improving their health and habits, and the town could partner with the medical center to build it, said a letter to the town council.

Discussions about possible uses will resume this Tuesday. The next step after the council narrows down how the money night be spent, is to take public input, study the feasibility of options, and eventually create a ballot question for residents.

“There might be some focus groups down the line, too,” Zemler said. “The purpose (of Tuesday’s meeting) is to ask the council, ‘What do you want us to test?'”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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