A decade in, officials say Park City Hospital has exceeded expectations
Park Record intern
When it opened its doors as the first full-fledged medical center in the area, the Park City Hospital had a lot to live up to. As the facility celebrates its 10-year anniversary this fall, those involved with the hospital say it’s more than met the challenge.
“It’s exceeding people’s expectations from everything to how it feels and looks, to the delivery of health care,” said Becky Kearns, who was the inaugural chairperson on the hospital’s board of directors and served in that capacity until 2014.
Despite initial concerns from some residents about whether there was a need to bring a hospital to the area, Park City Hospital has grown at a much faster rate than most people anticipated. Lori Weston, the CEO and administrator of the hospital, said that expansion plans began almost immediately after opening, revealing how much demand there was.
“It was busy from the start, which was a sign of how the community really did need this hospital and the support that we got for it,” she said.
The north building expansion, which was completed in 2017, now houses several specialists in fields such as cardiology, dermatology and allergy and immunology. It also allowed for additional sports performance services and a more extensive Live Well Center, which helps community members lead healthy lifestyles in hopes of avoiding a costly health episode through services such as personal training and nutrition counseling.
The expansion also included the Blair Education Center, which Weston said is highly utilized by the community as conference space and has led to the hospital partnering with several organizations.
Since opening in September of 2009, the hospital has performed more than 45,000 surgical procedures and has had roughly 17,600 inpatient stays, according to statistics provided by the hospital. Due to an expanded facility and services, the hospital was also able to deliver almost 3,000 babies and had about 450,000 physical therapy visits.
While the 2017 expansion has equipped the hospital with a wider range of services, the need for further growth and additional physicians is frequently assessed. Weston said that the hospital’s governing board, which is made up of community members, helps decide what services are in need.
“We’ll look at market trends and the patients that are coming into the facility, and if we’re getting a higher number of patients for a certain speciality, we’ll start to evaluate if we need to bring those services on,” she said. The hospital is currently looking at adding pulmonary and neurology care.
For many patients, the growth of the hospital and its services has almost completely eliminated the need to travel to Salt Lake City for medical care. Dr. Kris Kemp, the medical director of the emergency department, said that despite being in a smaller hospital, the department is able to treat patients within minutes of their arrival. As of 2019, the emergency department had treated more than 102,500 patients, 90 percent of whom were managed completely within the hospital, meaning transportation to a larger hospital in Salt Lake is often unnecessary.
“Even if we have to transfer a patient to another hospital, we can make the process near seamless and faster than if they were to waste that time driving down on their own not knowing for sure if they are in need of those services,” he said.
Not having to make the trip down Parleys Canyon in the middle of a medical emergency is something many patients are grateful for, Weston said.
“I continually get feedback from people about how happy they are that they have a hospital here, especially those that have lived in the area longer than the hospital’s been here,” Weston said. “They appreciate having their services close to home.”
Not only is the hospital providing a variety of health care services to Park City’s community, but people in surrounding communities are also taking advantage. Dr. Vern Cooley, an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital, said his practice has grown immensely and that he sees patients from Salt Lake, Wyoming, and the Uintah Basin. Cooley believes that the continued growth and advancement of the hospital will allow his practice to recruit patients nationally.
To help make community members aware of everything the hospital has to offer, officials have been involved in several community outreach events, such as yoga classes at the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, which helped promote the preventative health care available at the Live Well Center. Administrators and physicians also meet with homeowners associations throughout town to highlight services.
On Sept. 12, the hospital was scheduled to celebrate its 10th anniversary with several activities open to community members, including an InBody scan that analyzes body composition and scans for high blood pressure and diabetes. The event was also intended to give people a chance to view an operating room and to showcase some of the services offered at the Live Well Center.
Cooley hopes that the hospital continues to be a source of pride for not only hospital staff but for community members.
“This is our life’s work — the hospital and the care here — and I hope people, moving forward, view it as a real neat thing and something that can stand for many years as a jewel in the community,” he said.
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