Monthly Archives: April 2008
The Telluride Watch
by Gus Jarvis
After hearing a public outcry on the possible use of the RV parking lot for a new Telluride Medical Center and its subsequent removal from the Lift 7 subarea master plan, the Telluride Hospital District Board got down to brass tacks Thursday on the few options it has in addressing capacity problems at its current site.
Hospital district board members and medical center staff engaged in a heated discussion over possible avenues the board may go down without a future site for a new facility. So far, the RV Lot, located on the south end of Mahoney drive, has been identified by the district board as its best option for a new facility. But the use of the town-owned parcel must first be approved by voters, as it encroaches on the Pearl Property, which is subject to a voter-endorsed ordinance restricting development there. This approval can come no sooner than a November election.
Right now the medical center is bursting at the seams.
“This March has been the worst,” Director of Primary Care Sharon Grundy said at Thursday’s meeting. “From the waiting room to the back, there were people in the hallway and people everywhere. People with scheduled appointments are waiting 30 to 40 minutes.
“We are aggravating our patients,” she added.
With the possibility that acquiring the RV lot may be impossible, the hospital district board mailed a letter earlier this month to the three local governments (Telluride, Mountain Village, and San Miguel County) and to area real estate brokers asking for other possible locations where a new medical center could be built. Of those that responded with options, nothing new was brought fourth to the board’s attention.
“We have had a number of potential sites that we have considered,” THD Board President Bill Grun said. “People have told us to look at some others. Since then, we have been active and asked if there is anybody who has another site. We want to show the world we are not on a set of railroad tracks on one particular site, we need all the help we can get.”
Two alternative sites, the Carhenge Parking Lot and a site off Black Bear Rd., located behind Shandoka on south side of San Miguel River, emerged from public input at acommunity forum the district held on March 6.
“What we heard at the community meeting is that we need to look at Carhenge and Black Bear,” TMC Administrator Gordon Reichard said. “Bill [Grun] and I have written a letter to Stu Fraser about these two sites and have requested a meeting.”
When looking at various sites, the hospital district has been using a grid system, which Mahlum Architects created, to judge each parcel of land for medical center purposes. The grid system uses a variety of characteristics (quality of care, cost, expansion possibilities, community support, sustainable opportunities, site access, and site size).
“This is what we need to do with the [new] sites that have been identified,” Reichard said. “So we can go back to the public and say that we have done an exhaustive search with properties and this is how they scored out.” Sites that have already been scored include the current TMC site, which received a score of 40, with the Black Bear Road site receiving the highest mark of 72 and the RV Lot scoring 69.
It is unclear if the Black Bear lot is a possibility as the town intends to conduct a wetland study. So for now, the only real option on the table is the RV lot, which awaits a November verdict from voters.
Current Site Remodeling Options
Given the uncertainty over when and where a new medical center could be built, local architect Michael McAllister presented options for remodeling the current facility to the hospital district board and medical center staff on Thursday.
“We said, because a new facility is some time period out, we have to look at some short term-expansion options,” Grun said. “All the solutions we have in front of us will take a long time. We have a crisis in front of us right now and it could serve us as a bridge until we can move into a new facility.”
After the board viewed three different preliminary sketches by McAllister, Reichard went through each possibility for the board to discuss. The first option is the “do nothing” option, which costs nothing but solves no problems. The second option would be for the board to open a discussion with the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association, which has expressed interest in subsidizing a medical facility in Mountain Village. In this option, the new facility in Mountain Village would have a full-time primary care unit and would be roughly around 1,000 square feet. Reichard said that in this option it is important to know whether or not the TMVOA would be willing to subsidize that space for a couple of years.
Grun questioned that option by saying “They are willing to help us get into Mountain Village. If we do something like this, is it temporary or is it a long term thing?”
The third option would be to remodel the current facility, moving sleeping rooms and administration offices to other locations, at a cost of about $895,000. The fourth option McAllister presented would be to install small trailers for offices and extra space on site at the cost of $600,000.
The board’s fifth option would be a massive reconfiguring of the current medical center at the cost of $2.1 million. This would expand the current building structure to create more lobby privacy and primary care specialist rooms. Grun expressed caution as this option was discussed, since the medical center must continue to operate during the construction.
“We would have to move things to another area, possibly the MASH tents in Town Park scenario,” he said.
“The big question is how much money do we pay for it,” Reichard added. “The other question is how much money do we sink into this property, which we don’t own?”
The THD Board made no formal decisions on any short-term options for the current site Thursday.
The Idarado Option
Grun also discussed the option of trying to buy the land where the current medical center is located from the Idarado Mining Co. The Hospital District has a lease with Idarado that runs until 2023.
“Idarado is stuck with owning this land for another 20 years,” Grun said. “Maybe they want an early buyout. If we could get it at the right price, I would say it would be a benefit.”
Gordon emphasized that if the THD were to strike a deal with Idarado, the land purchase wouldn’t mark an end to the current capacity problems at the medical center but “might provide a good chip to trade for other town properties.”
“The community must understand that we are not buying it to stay on it,” Grundy added.
The board decided Thursday that Grun would approach Idarado in the near future to see if a possible deal may be struck to purchase the property.
Meanwhile, the district in the near future will decide whether or not the RV lot is still the best option for a new medical center. If so, they must begin the legal process in getting it put onto the ballot.
“If we move forward with the Pearl, we will have to put it on the ballot. Right now the Pearl is our only girl on the dance floor,” Grun said. “We as a board, if we don’t get the ability to build a new facility soon, we are going to have to do something in the interim.”