Amy Roberts, Park City Medical Center public relations director, remembers the opposition the hospital faced. She also recalls the effect it had on the staff, which was eager to make the medical center a success: There was a desire to exceed expectations.
"It's fair to say there was some skepticism in the community about the hospital," Roberts said. "There were a few naysayers. But we knew going in that we were going to have to prove ourselves. And we were OK with that."
Five years after the medical center's opening, hospital officials say it has not only surpassed the community's expectations but their own, as well. The demand the hospital has seen has been so great, in fact, that an 82,000-square-foot expansion is in the works, pending city approval.
Becky Kearns, who was the inaugural Chairperson on the hospital's Board of Directors before retiring from her seat in May, said all doubts about whether a community the size of Park City could sustain a large hospital have been erased.
"I think the hospital has been a great addition to the community," Kearns said. "It's probably exceeded a lot of people's expectations. The possible expansion is an affirmation that the community has embraced the hospital.
Si Hutt, Park City Medical Center's administrator, said that though hospital officials had full confidence going in, all their projections were light. The number of patients the hospital has seen each year has steadily grown. The hospital performed 3,037 surgeries and saw 8,152 emergency room visits in its first full year in 2010, which grew to 4,391 surgeries and 10,410 ER visits last year, according to statistics provided by the hospital. Through July of this year, there have been 2,606 surgeries and 7,134 ER visits.
Hutt said the hospital blowing by its usage projections is a good thing, though it's been tough to accommodate so many patients.
"There's much more of a demand here than we anticipated," Hutt said. "It's a little bit of a challenge but it's a good challenge. It's the kind of challenge that you want."
High patient usage has expedited additions to the medical center. The hospital opened without an intensive-care unit, but demand soon made it clear one was needed. A four-bed ICU was opened last August.
"It was in the 10-year plan and we built it within the first five years," Roberts said.
Hutt said the planned 82,000-square-foot addition will include eight additional medical surgery beds, up from the current 20, as well as space for additional physicians and an education center designed to hold speakers and community engagement events.
Roberts said the addition would help the hospital continue its mission of being a first-class medical center, something that has been the goal from the outset.
"That's the standard in Park City," she said. "We were a world-class resort town before the hospital ever came. People were used to that experience, and we wanted to continue that."
The medical center has become a community fixture in its five years, Hutt said. People have embraced the reality of no longer having to drive to Salt Lake City for first-class healthcare.
"We hear that a lot from folks, who are grateful that the hospital is right here at home -- even some of the folks who wondered if we really needed a hospital," Hutt said. "It just takes one experience of driving down Parley's (Canyon) in a snowstorm when you're ready to deliver a baby or in an emergency situation to make you go, 'It's fantastic the hospital is there.'"
The hospital is hosting a free community health fair to celebrate its fifth anniversary. The pirate-themed event, dubbed "Treasure Yer Health," is set to take place Sept. 12 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the medical center. More information about the event can be found at the medical center's Facebook page, at facebook.com/parkcitymedicalcenter.