Steamboat Emergency Center to close, turning into new UCHealth Urgent Care
Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After almost four years of providing service to the community as a standalone, full-service emergency department, Steamboat Emergency Center will end its operations April 30.
Steamboat Emergency Center, located at the intersection of Pine Grove Road and South Lincoln Avenue, will be remodeled and transformed into an urgent care center slated to open May 25 under the umbrella of the UCHealth system that operates Yampa Valley Medical Center. The revamped facility will be called UCHealth Urgent Care and is anticipated to stay open until 7 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. weekends.
“We’re excited to be able to care for patients in this new location and further enhance the patient experience,” Dr. Laura Sehnert, chief medical officer of YVMC, said in a statement. “We’ve worked with the team at Steamboat Emergency Center since they opened, providing their patients with direct admission to the hospital if needed, services that they didn’t have on-site and have served as backup to each other when equipment may have been down.”
Leaders at the two medical facilities consider the move a win-win for local health care coverage and are timing the facility’s transition during the slower mud season. The transition also is happening as the $10 million renovation of the hospital’s emergency department is completed in early May. That renovation, which began in spring 2020, expands the department by more than 2,500 square feet and creates private patient rooms.
Dr. Dallas Bailes, medical director and co-owner of Steamboat Emergency Center, said that when the center opened in November 2017, the goal was to provide increased access to high-quality emergency care in the community. The center is also owned by Drs. Matthew Freeman, John Mason and Jesse Sandhu.
“Now, as a result of changes and uncertainties in the industry, the physician owners have determined it to be in their best interests, and the best interests of the community, to close the business,” Bailes said.
He believes the facility to be the last freestanding, full-service emergency department in Colorado not owned by a major health system.
“The last 3 1/2 years have been incredible, and we’re grateful for the Steamboat Springs community for entrusting us with their care,” Bailes said. “However, during the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became increasingly clear that this model of care would be difficult to sustain.”
Bailes said he is pleased with the transition plan.
“We’ve built a positive relationship with UCHealth over the last few years, and they’ve become a trusted partner in health care,” Bailes said. “Personally, what I’ve seen, UCHealth has really proven to me as a competitor that they have taken many strides to grow the trust with the community.”
Steamboat Emergency Center’s staff of about 30 employees, including 20 working full-time, will be let go, with some offers of severance packages and extended benefits, according to Bailes. The employees have various plans, such as applying for positions now open in the UCHealth system. While the other owners plan to move to other states due to family circumstances and other work commitments, Bailes said he will stay in Steamboat and work with staff to complete patient billing.
YVMC officials said the new urgent care center will add another level of service for the community that is open more hours than a doctor’s office but is less expensive than an emergency room. With an ER visit, a significant portion of patient charges go to facility fees to maintain support services and specialists on call. Bailes said an urgent care office is not allowed to charge a facility fee by state law.
“Access to the right level of care helps lower the cost of health care for everyone.” said Soniya Fidler, president of YVMC. “We have a newly renovated Level III trauma center at the hospital, but not everything requires a visit to the emergency department. Urgent care allows patients to be seen in a similarly quick manner but at reduced costs.”
The forthcoming urgent care also will house a relocated UCHealth Occupational Medicine Clinic, which is currently located at Walton Creek Road andS. Lincoln Avenue.
UCHealth Urgent Care will offer residents and visitors care for illnesses or minor injuries that do not warrant a trip to an emergency department, yet are too important to wait for a primary care appointment. Such issues include sprains, strains, possible broken bones, classic migraines, ear infections, fever or flu symptoms, minor burns and lacerations.
Emergency care is intended for severe injuries and illnesses, such as when a patient is unconscious, having trouble breathing or may be having a heart attack or stroke. ER visits are warranted for head injuries, non-typical headaches, loss of vision, serious lacerations, severe bleeding, poisoning, overdose or severe abdominal pain.
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