New Steamboat Surgery Center slated to open spring 2020 |

New Steamboat Surgery Center slated to open spring 2020

UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute will partner to operate an orthopedic ambulatory surgery center in the old Sports Authority building.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Construction is underway on the new Steamboat Surgery Center, with an opening planned for May or June.

The remodeling of the old Sports Authority building in Wildhorse Marketplace is about a third of the way through a 10-month process, according to Dr. Patrick Johnston, an orthopedic surgeon with the Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute.

The top floor of the building will house the institute’s office and clinic space — a group of nine surgeons who merged together last year from Steamboat Orthopaedic Associates and Orthopaedics of Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Surgery Center— a joint partnership between the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute and UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center — will occupy 9,150 square feet on the building’s ground level.

The project’s total footprint covers 27,270 square feet of the building at 705 Marketplace Plaza, which is being leased by the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute.

While the partnership did not exactly begin in harmony, both Johnston and Soniya Fidler, president of the local hospital, now describe things as going very well. The surgeons fought to pursue the ambulatory surgery center model over what would have been more like a hospital outpatient department.

In the United States, ambulatory surgery centers took root about 50 years ago — a movement started and sustained by physicians to provide “a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to inpatient hospital care for surgical services,” according to the ASC Association.

The model typically provides more autonomy and control for physicians and surgeons, who have at least some ownership in about 90% of all ambulatory surgery centers. There are currently about 120 of these centers in Colorado and over 5,000 nationwide.

The Steamboat Surgery Center, comprising only a portion of the building, will be run through a 50/50 partnership between the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute and the hospital.

According to the ASC Association, “On average, the Medicare program and its beneficiaries share in more than $2.6 billion in savings each year because the program pays significantly less for procedures performed in ASCs when compared to the rates paid to hospitals for the same procedures. Accordingly, patient copays are also significantly lower when care is received in an ASC … Likewise, Medicaid and other insurers benefit from lower prices for services performed in the ASC setting. Currently, Medicare pays ASCs 55% of the amount paid to hospital outpatient departments for performing the same services.” 

The goal from both sides of the partnership, said Johnston and Fidler, is to deliver high quality and cost-effective care and keep people closer to home.

“The whole process has been going smoothly from the construction, to picking out the furniture, and deciding how the ambulatory surgery center will be run,” Johnston said.

They hired Pinnacle III, a Lakewood-based ambulatory surgery center management company.

Fidler said they are working on policies and procedures and staffing and establishing anesthesia services along with everything else it takes to get a new business off the ground.

While the Steamboat Surgery Center will start by only offering orthopedic procedures in its two operating rooms, Johnston said they will then “see what availability we have in the center to do other specialities.” Colonoscopies, cataract surgeries, endoscopies and orthopedic procedures are the top procedures performed at ambulatory surgery centers in Colorado, according to the ASC Association.

Surgeries performed at the new center won’t be emergency, high-risk or require overnight stays — all of those will continue to happen at the hospital, according to Fidler. Surgeries at the new facility will be scheduled ahead of time and only performed at the center if deemed appropriate in that setting.

“We are very excited to bring a cost-effective option for surgery to our community that will offer exceptional patient care,” Johnston said.

The office space and surgery center are being designed to reflect the community, Johnston said. They plan to hang jerseys of athletes on whom they’ve operated and launch a photography contest for the interior design, including a mural-size wall covering.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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