Medical Center Project Begins Monday

Medical Center Project Begins Monday

VAIL — Work starts Monday on a $100 million expansion and renovation project at Vail Valley Medical Center. The first change most of us will see is how we get into the facility.

The first work will come on the west side of the existing facility. That means the existing parking lot will be filled with various construction vehicles and material storage. To get to the hospital now patients — except for emergency patients — and guests will get into the facility from Vail's South Frontage Road roughly across the street from Vail Town Hall. According to a release from the medical center signs will direct drivers to the new entrance and complementary valet parking attendants and concierges will be on hand to park cars and direct people where they need to be.

Once people have parked they'll enter the hospital from the second floor. Again people will be on hand to help people find their way around. Since the facility has been expanded and remodeled several times over the past 50 years those guides will be needed.

Changing the way patients get to the medical center is the first step in getting most passenger cars off of West Meadow Drive — something residents on the street have been clamoring for. Patients of Colorado Mountain Medical — the physicians' group that leases space from the medical center — have already moved along with the clinic into the former bank building just off the frontage road. But the permanent move of most medical center traffic is still a few years away.

According to an email from medical center spokeswoman Emily Tamberino the hospital's traffic patterns won't change permanently until the second phase of the project is well underway.

“Vail Valley Medical Center is committed to making accessibility and parking as easy as possible during this period of construction.”Doris Kirchner Vail Valley Medical Center president CEO.

That phase on the eastern portion of the facility will change the medical center's main entrance and move and expand the emergency department. When that work which includes new parking is complete virtually all medical center traffic will enter the campus from South Frontage Road. Only delivery trucks will use West Meadow Drive and those vehicles will be put into a new covered loading and delivery area.

“Vail Valley Medical Center is committed to making accessibility and parking as easy as possible during this period of construction” medical center president and CEO Doris Kirchner said. “The hospital and our partners including Colorado Mountain Medical The Steadman Clinic Steadman Philippon Research Institute and Vail-Summit Orthopaedics will remain fully functional throughout the duration of our upgrade.”

How employees get to work will also change. While the medical center has for years run an employee-shuttle service more and bigger vehicles will be added to those routes to further cut the number of employee vehicles coming to the Vail location.

While the hospital will remain open a lot of changes are coming from where people park to how all kinds of emergency vehicles transport patients into and out of the facility.

Aside from parking the second phase of the project includes a new building that will have a rooftop helipad. That building will be on the northwest corner of the medical center's property near the current entrance to the Evergreen Lodge. That helipad will replace the existing one just across the street on the west side of the town of Vail's Community Development Department offices.

The existing helipad has been used for years. But the facility sits on land controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Getting a patient to and from an air ambulance also requires an ambulance ride and South Frontage Road is closed while helicopters land and take off — an average of 73 times per year since 2009.

Medical center neighbors have been consistent in asking for a different pad location but hospital officials say the pad will be made as safe as possible with an on-site weather station and other features.

FIVE BIG JOBS

The expansion and renovation of Vail Valley Medical Center has myriad projects. Here's a look at four of the major steps in the two phases of work:

  • Moving the Colorado Mountain Medical clinic to a new home (already done).
  • Expanding the surgical area (phase one).
  • Adding to and expanding current treatment areas (phase one).
  • Expanding the hospital's emergency department and moving the hospital's main entrance (phase two).
  • Adding a new building with a rooftop helipad (phase 2).