Vail Daily column: Envisioning Vail’s hospital of the future |

Vail Daily column: Envisioning Vail’s hospital of the future

Doris Kirchner
Valley Voices

Vail Valley Medical Center has been a cornerstone of this community for nearly 50 years, and in that time, we’ve grown into one of the world’s most advanced mountain hospitals. While the care and services at VVMC are outstanding, the infrastructure is due for modernization. Fortunately, the hospital is in a position to address this opportunity, and we are at the brink of building a state-of-the-art medical campus to serve our community and guests for years to come.

As president and CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center, it is my privilege to share the news of our recent submittal of a master facility plan application to the town of Vail. Once approved, this plan will guide us in remodeling and building Vail’s hospital of the future. We are scheduled to break ground in the summer of 2015.

During the past two years, we’ve worked closely with hospital staff and our medical partners to map out a master facility plan that will make Vail a center of health and wellness. We’ve also worked closely with town of Vail staff, community stakeholders and neighbors. Through public meetings and open house events, we’ve listened to valuable input regarding road access, parking, emergency helicopter transport, our aging population, and cost of care, among other important topics.

As a nonprofit, community hospital, we are able to consider our community’s needs and respond responsibly. This is a benefit that makes us unique in today’s healthcare environment. As a nonprofit fiduciary, funds don’t go to shareholders, big bonuses or a corporate office in another city or state. Our profits stay local and are reinvested in the community through better services, new physicians, state-of-the-art equipment, improved access, healthcare jobs, community outreach and charity care.

In recent years, your collective input has led to better access at new urgent care facilities in Gypsum and Avon. We listened to your ideas and built a world-class surgery center more conveniently located in Edwards. Because of you, we offer top-of-the-line cancer care at Shaw Regional Cancer Center using a new image guided linear accelerator and 3D mammography. Most recently, your input led to new specialties such as endocrinology and internal medicine, as well as advances in cardiology care. In fact, right now we’re working on a new cardiac catheterization lab, which will open in early 2015 — no longer will you have to travel out of the valley in critical moments to receive life-saving cardiac care.

While cost of care is a shared concern, Vail Valley Medical Center continually looks for ways to improve operational efficiencies and collaborate with insurance providers to lower your costs. Our new medical campus will not increase your cost of care.

Our mission is to provide superior health services with compassion and exceptional outcomes, and the master facility plan will support our mission in countless ways. Some noticeable improvements will include increasing parking (including covered parking), moving emergency traffic off West Meadow Drive to create a safer pedestrian environment and making emergency care more convenient. Additionally, the list of objectives for the master facility plan includes:

• Relocate main entrance and visitor/outpatient traffic/parking to South Frontage Road.

• Relocate Emergency Department and ambulance traffic to South Frontage Road; ambulance and walk-in to be separated.

• Locate helipad with sensitivity to neighbors and direct internal connection to new Emergency Department.

• Expand parking to better serve patients, visitors and staff (including covered parking).

• Accommodate patients in the most appropriate setting (and with privacy).

• Optimize access and way-finding for patients and visitors.

• Improve operational efficiencies through proper sizing, adjacencies.

• Modify service vehicle access to a concealed loading zone.

• Accommodate appropriate medical office space on campus.

• Create a flexible framework to accommodate future changes.

The master facility plan is truly a product of everything we’ve learned, combined with a flexible infrastructure to handle a shifting and unpredictable future. During ver the next year, as the plan is vetted, things may change. Patient care will be uninterrupted during construction, but we may experience some inconveniences. We are committed to keeping the community informed of our progress and invite you to be a part of milestones along the way.

In 2019, at the culmination of the construction process, we will celebrate as a community, thankful for the vision, hard work and generous support of many. We will continue to play an important role in the lives of our patients who need everything from critical care to annual wellness visits to assistance in welcoming new babies to the valley.

This is an exciting time in the history of Vail Valley Medical Center, and I encourage you to join us as we embark on the future of Vail’s hospital. You can view a PDF copy of the submitted master facility plan on our project webpage at, and join our mailing list by emailing to stay informed along the way. Thank you for your support!

Doris Kirchner is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Medical Center.

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