Montrose Memorial Hospital Prepares for the Future
by Kati O'Hare
Oct 06, 2012 | 1406 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MONTROSE – Montrose Memorial Hospital is preparing for the future, and its six recent property acquisitions are key to the plans, according to hospital administrators.

"Everything we bought is contiguous to our current location," MMH Chief Executive Officer Dave Hample said.

Since the start of this year, the hospital has purchased six properties, spending about $1.3 million. The properties include three buildings which will or currently do house health-care services (including orthopaedics and urology, as well as the emergency helicopter crew), all on South Fourth Street. The other three acquisitions are former homes on South Second Street, which could be rented, but will more likely be demolished in the near future, giving way to campus parking and/or hospital buildings.

The new properties – all now on the hospital's list of fixed assets – will allow the hospital to stay at its current location with room to grow, said James Whitticom, a member of the Montrose Memorial Hospital Inc. Board of Directors.

Last week, with anticipated growth its main concern, the MMHI board hired American Health Facilities Development, of Brentwood, Tenn., to create a long-range facilities plan. The plan will set out the most sensible and efficient way to expand buildings, parking and utilities, with an eye to patient flow and access, Hample said.

He said the hospital is already aware of upcoming needs, and is moving to address them.

In 2009, the hospital purchased property at 900 S. Fourth St. for about $350,000. This acquisition allowed the hospital's nurse-midwife program to move into the more accommodating facility, formerly occupied by Dr. Richard Hanley, who has now teamed up with Dr. James Gilham at a new OB/GYN facilitiy.

Of its recent purchases, the hospital was able to rent one property to the emergency helicopter crew, and another will be renovated to house expanded orthopaedic services.

This year alone, the hospital expects to welcome a total of 10 new physicians to its medical staff.

The additions will include a new oncologist – Dr. Choon-Kee Lee, formerly of Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and the University of Colorado Cancer Center, who will start in November – joining Dr. Robert Kilbourn at the San Juan Cancer Center. Hample said the hospital plans to expand that center to make room for the new doctor, and to increase work space, as well.

The hospital will also require more needed space for its surgical services department in the future, Hample said. In September, two new surgeons joined the MMH medical staff, and new technologies and equipment will require larger and more rooms, he added.

The hospital is in the process of installing a second cardiac catheterization lab next to the existing lab, to replace the current special procedures room for medical imaging. And the family center is also high on the hospital's list of renovations, Hample said.

All of these anticipated changes for growth will be part of the facilities plan, which should be developed in the first quarter of 2013. It's the first facilities plan to be developed for the hospital, Hample said.

The recent purchases were paid for in whole from the hospital's capital budget, Whitticom said, with the MMHI board approving a variance to the MMH budget, since these acquisitions weren't on the radar back when the budget was approved in September 2011.

All of the purchased properties were appraised, he said, and were not bought for more than their appraised value, he said.

"The capital budget was that we could afford it at this time, and it was the right time," Whitticom said.

He said the purchases did take the hospital's cash balance – which had been at about $24 million – down, but only after responsible decisionmaking based on the acquisition of long-term assets that was, he emphasized, completely in the scope of the board's authority.

The MMHI Board of Directors currently leases the hospital from the MMH Board of Trustees, appointed by the Montrose Board of County Commissioners. The hospital currently receives no money or funding from taxpayers, Hample said.

The six new properties would have been purchased in the same manner, had the acquisitions occurred before the lease of the hospital to MMHI, he added.

Kati O'Hare at or Tweet @katiohare

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October 09, 2012
The most important statement of this article is that THE HOSPITAL CURRENTLY RECEIVES NO MONEY OR FUNDING FROM TAXPAYERS. It's nice to see some clarity to the misinformation the current Montrose county commissioners continue to spin.