Dirt turned for hospital | ParkRecord.com

Dirt turned for hospital

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Joe Ferriter hopes someday to stroll through the hallways of a hospital at Quinn’s Junction, stopping in to see patients on his rounds.

A physician, Ferriter says he wants to practice at the facility Intermountain Healthcare plans to build on the eastern edge of Park City, anchoring the city’s S.R. 248 entryway.

"It’s going to be a huge beautiful new facility," he said on Monday, as a group of officials, mostly with ties to IHC and City Hall, held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the hospital, the first in Park City’s modern era.

Ferriter, who sits on the local hospital board, where he represents local physicians, envisions the facility attracting more specialists to Park City and says the hospital’s emergency room will be staffed more fully than the local clinics.

"You’re going to be able to keep half of the ambulances that would go down to LDS or the U," Ferriter says, acknowledging that the emergency room will not be outfitted to treat the worst cases but saying Park City deserves the hospital. "It’s something that was needed. With the growing population, it’s going to boom."

Monday’s ceremony, although not marking the beginning of construction, gave the speakers and others who gathered in a temporary tent on the property a moment to celebrate the efforts thus far and to talk about what they said is the importance of the hospital.

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Mayor Dana Williams was pleased with the way the hospital and accompanying medical offices are designed, saying that the blueprints preserve lots of open space and include space for the U.S. Ski Team and the People’s Health Center, a not-for-profit healthcare provider.

"It’s not looking like Kimball Junction," Williams said of the hospital’s development plans, on the northwest corner of Quinn’s Junction.

Becky Kearns, who leads a local board of trustees for the hospital, says the facility is needed in fast-growing Summit County.

"Comfort to know that, for any reason, if something is needed, it’s here," she says as she describes her view of the role the hospital will play.

Local hospital boosters have for years pressed for a facility to be built on the West Side but various plans did not advance, leaving people reliant on local clinics, a hospital in Heber or the hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley.

The supporters have argued that Summit County’s burgeoning population, estimated at 35,469 in 2006, and the scores of tourists who visit deserve a hospital. They have told stories of travails they encountered when they needed medical care but had to travel to the other hospitals.

As City Hall was considering annexing the land where the hospital will sit, there was lots of support from regular Parkites. The idea did not face organized opposition.

The city’s Planning Commission continues to consider hospital details and has not granted the approval IHC needs to proceed with construction. Pat Putt, City Hall’s Planning director, says he expects commissioners will vote within a few weeks.

He says the IHC team and commissioners must finalize details about hospital-related traffic, which has been a chief concern since it will sit off S.R. 248, a highway that many Parkites say is too congested.

Through numerous Planning Commission meetings, there has also been talk about the hospital’s design, its height and the way it is situated near hundreds of acres of open space.

Morgan Busch, an IHC official who has helped shepherd the hospital through City Hall, expects construction will start in the summer and he hopes the hospital opens in early 2009.

When City Hall agreed to annex the land, the government allowed 450,000 square feet of related development, split between 300,000 square feet in the hospital and 150,000 in medical offices.

IHC intends to build the hospital over 25 years, starting with 120,000 square feet as part of the first phase, priced at $83 million, according to Busch.

The first phase anticipates a facility holding 26 hospital beds, with 85 envisioned once the entire square footage is built.

Material given out on Monday indicates some of the services the hospital plans to offer include general surgery, orthopedic surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics. Obstetrics and gynecology doctors will also work at the hospital.

Speakers said on Monday the hospital will accept health-insurance plans besides those offered by SelectHealth, IHC’s insurance arm, and the hospital will treat indigent patients.

Forty-five physicians have asked that they be allowed to see patients at the hospital.