When Centura Health opened Summit Medical Center in 1978, it was a big deal for Summit County and its surrounding communities.
For the first time, residents and visitors had access to 24/7 emergency medical services. The medical center has continued to evolve through the years and add services to its wheelhouse to better serve patients. At times, that meant tearing down old facilities to make room for new state-of-the-art services.
This happened around 2005 when the health center rebranded to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and opened as a new facility sitting on 12 acres near the County Commons in Frisco. Now it’s happening again: On Friday, May 21, Centura Health held a remembrance ceremony to acknowledge another its next milestone. The company is demolishing its Summit Vista Professional Building to make way for a workforce housing project that will have about 37 units for its staff of over 300.
“What began in 1978 as the community’s first hospital (and) 24/7 emergency medical services facility is transforming into a development where today’s health care workers can live in proximity not only to the hospital, but also to (Dillon Reservoir), downtown Frisco, the recpath and all the other amenities that make Summit County such a special place to call home,” Centura Health spokesperson Brent Boyer said.
The milestone, while necessary to help combat the county’s workforce housing crisis, gives the company’s health providers reason to pause and reflect on the services provided for the county and its communities so far.
One such provider is Trixie VanderSchaaff, chief nursing officer for St. Anthony’s. VanderSchaaff has been with the company for 23 years, and a large portion of that time has been spent in the health system’s labor and delivery department. Through the years, she’s witnessed firsthand the increasing need the health system has served since opening its new facility in 2005.
“When I started in labor and delivery, we would have one nurse and one nurse on call and that has evolved to moving into this new facility where we have three nurses and a tech,” VanderSchaaff said. “So we went from, at that point, maybe 10 to 15 deliveries a month to now averaging 30 deliveries a month and over 400 a year for us.”
Not only was the services of labor and delivery in high demand, but so was the need for hospitalization space.
“The state-of-the-art facility was a necessity for our rapidly growing community and its resort tourism economy,” Boyer said. “Before the opening of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, patients who required hospitalization had to be transported to Denver or Vail.”
Boyer said when the new hospital opened in 2005, it had 25 patient beds, two operating rooms, a nine-bed labor and delivery unit, a dedicated helipad and a trauma center. The hospital’s need grew so much within four years of opening that it added a 10-bed patient wing that brought the hospital’s total capacity to 35 patient beds, including four additional ICU beds.
What does all this growth mean for the hospital’s workforce? In the early 2000s, Boyer said the hospital employed about 90 people. It is well over 300 today. Adding in the health system’s primary care clinics and urgent care clinics at various ski resorts, that number crosses over 500 staff members.
With such a robust workforce, leaders at the hospital decided that their next major project should be some kind of workforce housing development. Besides renting out various units around the county, this will be the first workforce housing project the health system is developing in its 43-year history.
“St. Anthony Summit Medical Center has been a trusted partner in the community for over 40 years, and we know its important that the community has access to the best health care available,” St. Anthony Summit Medical Center CEO Lee Boyles said. “And that means hiring the best people — the most talented caregivers — and in order to do that, Centura and St. Anthony Summit Medical Center have committed to building employee housing that is affordable and accessible for our employees.”
If construction starts on time, which is aimed for this summer, Boyles said he expects tenants to occupy the building by February 2022.
1978: Summit Medical Center, the original hospital, opens.
2005: The hospital is rebranded to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.
2007: Construction of the Flight for Life helicopter hanger is completed.
2009: The hospital opens a new 10-bed patient wing, bringing the hospital’s total capacity to 35 beds.
2010: A third operating suite opens.
2015: 3D mammography is added to the hospital’s breast screening and diagnostic technology.
2017: The hospital opens its infusion center and multispecialty clinic, that, among other services, allows cancer patients to get treatment closer to home.