T-Ride Med Center: Task Force Recommendations

Task Force makes Med Center recommendations to Mountain Village Council and Design Review Board

telluride-medical-center

The latest of several public meetings hosted by the Town of Mountain Village to evaluate initial site plans for a new medical facility in Mountain Village were held last week.

The first meetings included a two-day design charrette session lead by the Town Hall Center Subarea Task Force, a group of local citizens appointed by Mountain Village Town Council and chaired by Penelope Gleason.

The charrettes focused specifically on the facility’s scaling and mass, which was presented by Mahlum Architects, the firm the Telluride Hospital District (THD) commissioned to execute the pre-design planning phase for the proposed medical center.  The charrettes were also an opportunity for citizens, Mahlum Architects and other stakeholders to discuss plans for the site and to collaborate on a vision for development.

While exact facility designs have not been made and additional approvals are still pending, Mountain Village Town Council unanimously agreed in January to convey roughly a one-acre parcel to the THD at zero cost. The site–located behind The Market at Mountain Village and Mountain Village Town Hall–was also the preferred site of THD Board, a Citizen Advisory Committee, and an independent consultant hired to evaluate potential sites for a medical facility in the region.

On Thursday, April 2, following the design charrette sessions, the Mountain Village Town Council and Design Review Board (DRB) convened to hear the recommendations of the Subarea Task Force. Those recommendations included the need to address several matters: vehicular and pedestrian access, parking, construction mitigation, and ski in/ski out access for Ski Patrol.

Mountain Village Mayor Dan Jansen said he was grateful for the neighbors, residents and business representatives who served on the Task Force as they added some critical additional perspective to the design process.

“They have delivered a concise and thoughtful set of recommendations for our DRB and Town Council to consider as we all work together to build a great new medical center that will serve the needs of our region for decades to come.”

Gordon Reichard, executive director of the Telluride Medical Center (TMC), said he is sensitive to community concerns that such a project could elicit, adding he was happy that the Town of Mountain Village was just as eager to nurture a process that the whole region could embrace by garnering as much public input as possible.

This week’s meetings were only the beginning of several public input opportunities to be held over the next six months.

On April 23, Mountain Village Town Council and DRB will meet again for a hearing on the Conditional Use Permit for the medical helistop and the conceptual plan for the new facility.

Between the public meetings, Mahlum Architects and THD officials will continue to meet with various groups in an effort to help formulate a plan for the property, Reichard said.

TMC’s current facility in the Depot District of Telluride was a residential building, built in the 1960’s, and renovated to serve as a medical facility in 1978. The codes are outdated and in recent years, the region’s health care demands have outgrown the 10,000-square-foot space, according to TMC. The property is owned by Idarado Mining Company and is sub-leased to the THD.

Over the last five years patient visits have grown 22% and in 2015 visits are up an additional 19% over last year.

To meet current demands TMC has increased providers, extended hours and converted the conference room into an exam room.

Reichard expects that administration personnel are likely to be relocated outside the building in the coming months to ensure TMC can continue to meet patient demands and reasonable space and access expectations of both patients and health care providers.

Mahlum Architects estimates that for TMC to continue to provide existing services, strictly as they do presently, it would take 20,000-square-feet to meet building and health codes — an estimate that makes no adjustment for current or future projected growth.

Reichard said one of the biggest challenges he faces in making the case for the new facility is that most patients don’t realize how maxed out the current space is.

“We’re still providing outstanding care to our patients, but our growth isn’t sustainable and we already can’t always accommodate patients for same-day care.”

In January and February TMC reported that the primary care department was at or over 90% capacity.

With an eye on the dwindling number of suitable lots in the region and a building lease with an expiration date, THD representatives began the course of identifying a new location for a regional medical center in 2006.

After much controversy, several elections and an extensive vetting process, the THD announced that the future home for the medical center would be in Mountain Village last November, the same month voters in Telluride designated the Pearl Property- a site identified as the only possible home for the new facility within the town of Telluride- for a public use other than a medical facility.

“That last election really foreclosed any opportunity for the medical center to remain in the town of Telluride,” said Reichard.

One caveat of Mountain Village’s land conveyance is that THD break ground on the new facility within five years of the closing date, which is expected early this summer.

The envisioned new home for the region’s medical center will offer pedestrian access via a gondola terminal, bus service, as well as convenient access for Ski Patrol, expanded primary care services, overnight hospital rooms, a procedure room, and a location for a helistop pad.

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