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District to expand PSMC clinic

The Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) has grown.

The clinic now has 12 providers. There is now a 24/7 Emergency Room as part of the Critical Access Hospital. The hospital has two surgeons, who performed a total of 63 surgeries in November alone.

However, in the past year, the physical space of the PSMC has stayed the same. The providers work in what is fondly referred to as “the dorm,” a single room with six desks. The break room serves as administrative offices for six employees, lunchroom, meeting room and is still the only break room.

Here, in this crowded space, enters the Master Facilities Plan.

After last month’s presentation by Bob Owens of Boulder Associates of preliminary plans and figures for clinic and hospital expansion, the strategic planning committee gave the Upper San Juan Health Service District (USJHSD) their recommendation. Board member Jim Knoll, speaking on behalf of the strategic planning committee, recommended what he referred to as “Plan 1 Phase A Light,” essentially an expansion of the present clinic.

“The clinic needs to expand to better accommodate the present staff and future applicants,” Knoll said.

CEO Brad Cochennet confirmed that the plan, capital and clinic needs had been reviewed and said there is a $6 million target estimate for the recommended clinic expansion. Cochennet mentioned that as well as expanding primary care, ideally the plan would also involve acquisition of Pagosa Springs Family Medical Center’s building, which is currently owned by board member Jim Pruitt.

According to Cochennet, the expansion would be financed by the district mill levy, grant funding and donations. Cochennet would like to wait until the PSMC completes a community needs assessment in May 2012 before asking for an extension of the mill levy. The community needs assessment is scheduled to be complete Jan. 10.

“We’re not going to the public to ask one penny more,” said Knoll, adding that the USJHSD may ask for what money the public already gives through extension of the mill levy.

Also, to help with the funding, a development director is slated to start work Jan. 6, and would be delegated the duty of raising certain funds.

The board unanimously approved moving forward with the Plan 1 Phase A Light clinic expansion plan.

PSMC is growing in more ways than expanding services, physical space and increased patient numbers. The USJHSD board agreed to meet with Centura regarding possible affiliation, with a prior work session to discuss other possible affiliations and what PSMC would hope to accomplish in the agreement.

“We need to move forward and meet with Centura,” recommended Knoll, clarifying that the meeting would be with Centura and not Mercy Hospital.

According to Cochennet, Centura has shown interest in affiliation and has been waiting several months for a meeting. Other interested institutions interested in affiliations, Cochennet said, were Health One and Denver Health.

“I’m up for a meeting, but we need to meet with our own people first,” Pruitt said.

Dr. Dave Schaeffer suggested that the medical staff be present at the work session, “because they are the ones interacting with the other providers and institutions.”

The board agreed to meet with Centura, with a prior work session scheduled for a yet to be determined date in January. The work session, according to Board Chair Neal Townsend, will be for the purpose of creating a clear, uniform objective agreed to by board members, providers and PSMC senior staff.

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