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Pioneers Medical Center breaks ground on expansion project

Originally appeared in The Herald Times • September 27, 2019
Photo by Caitlin Walker

MEEKER | Pioneers Medical Center board members and staff broke ground last Friday on an expansion project for the hospital that’s expected to take 10 months and cost more than $9 million. The expansion will include the addition of two operating rooms, three extra post-recovery rooms, six additional inpatient hospital rooms and orthopedic and specialist clinic space. Driven largely by the success of the hospital’s orthopedic program, the expansion is expected to provide an additional 15 jobs, totaling $2 million in payroll. “Along with the added services, we feel there will be a positive impact to our local economy. In the past 12 months we’ve had patients travel to Meeker from towns across the Western Slope, Denver, Utah, Nebraska, Utah, New York and Vermont. These patients have families that stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants during their stay,” said PMC Board President and Pioneers Healthcare Foundation board member Kim Brown. No additional taxes are expected to be levied by the hospital district to cover the cost of the expansion. Currently, the Eastern Rio Blanco County Health District receives $4.2 million per year in funds from a 7.280 mill levy.

In an August 2019 presentation, CEO Ken Harman said, “Ten years ago, the board saw that there were a lot of problems coming up with rural small hospitals. There were 87 rural hospitals that have closed around the nation last year. This year, we’ve seen a dramatic number of hospital closures… one hospital a week. Colorado hasn’t had any yet, but many are struggling. Every year, state and federal governments are constantly looking at how they can lower their payments to us. We started having some discussions on how we can ensure that PMC is here to take care of patients and do it in a great way and still be here in five, 10, 20 years and beyond. We decided that we needed to have a diverse portfolio of primary care physicians and staff who are really able to take care of people. The board made some decisions to enable us to recruit some additional primary care physicians. We wanted to be able to create a good work-life balance. Physicians in the past were on call 24/7 and they were getting burned out. We developed a plan where we could provide enough primary care providers so that they could have enough time off so they could not feel completely overwhelmed.”

Harman went on to say, “The board committed to developing a sustainable, viable entity by developing growth opportunities by not only providing medical care to the community, but by also providing services that would attract patients from outside of our community as well. The board also committed to “living within our means.” By doing so, there has been no increase to mill levy support since 2006. Currently, mill levy support accounts for 15-20% of PMC overall revenue. When the mill levy was first introduced, it provided around 40% of PMC revenue.” This means that PMC is now generating 80-85% of its own revenue stream by providing additional services.

By NIKI TURNER | [email protected]

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