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Work is well underway for the latest expansion of Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida. The hospital board approved the expansion on June 16, 2017, and HRRMC officials expect construction to be completed by late January or early February 2019.


Marji Ackermann, director of marketing and public relations for HRRMC, said the expansion will allow for the creation of a three-story, 46,601-square-foot modern medical campus to centrally locate healthcare services in the region – a vision that is coming to fruition just 10 years after the hospital moved to Rush Drive from downtown Salida. The building will be 53 feet, 9 inches tall – just below the 54-foot maximum allowable within city limits.


Since that time, HRRMC has hired 200 employees and added 13 new services, Ackermann said. This expansion will allow medical providers to have offices directly on the medical campus and give greater access to services within the community. The offices that are currently located at the medical clinic on U.S. Highway 50 and at the hospital’s specialty clinic will be moved into the expansion.


Ackermann said the hospital is expanding in two directions. On the hospital’s west side, a one-story addition will create 2,200 square feet of laboratory space. And just south of the existing hospital cafe, the actual medical building is under construction. It will take the place of some parking that was previously available on the east and west sides of the hospital, but additional staff parking will be added to the west side of the building when construction is completed.


The addition of a medical building will allow space for a walking track, therapy pool and a kitchen for occupational therapy sessions and cooking classes for Wellness U. The area previously used for the specialty clinics will now be used for oncology and infusion.


Colarelli Construction of Colorado Springs is completing the construction of the expansion. Ackermann said sound and visual screens will be used to surround equipment as work progresses to  reduce noise and visual impact on nearby residents.


To cover the costs of the expansion, the hospital board acquired a new loan of $33.36 million –  including $10 million set aside for the project – at a 2.96-percent interest rate. This was after refunding their original 2006 net revenue bonds for $30.20 million that were issued at 5.25 percent.


Officials anticipate an estimated $2.3 million in additional cash flow following completion of the new construction as a direct output of expanding rehabilitation, wellness services, infusion, internal medicine and other specialty services – as well as ceasing the lease on facilities the hospital is currently needing for its patient financial services and education departments. Ackerman said these will move to the current medical clinic offices on U.S. 50. The building has a 40-year “useful life” expectancy, and hospital board members expect to recoup the money spent on the expansion within 20-25 years.


“The HRRMC medical campus provides a central location in our region for health services,” Ackermann added. “The biggest reason we want to expand our campus is so we can provide better service and offer more health care to residents. So our community can access specialty services locally, instead of traveling to the Front Range.”