Local doctors sweat the details of an IHC hospital
As far as Park City Family Health Center President Dr. Joe Ferriter is concerned, "the devil’s in the details" when it comes to the proposed Intermountain Health Care hospital at Quinn’s Junction. A quality hospital could actually complement local doctors services, he says. Phase I of the proposed IHC hospital at the intersection of U.S. 40 and State Road 248 will include a 118,000 square-foot hospital with 25 beds. Full build out of the 450,000-square-foot hospital, medical offices and sports centers is slated for 2025, according to a Nov. 6 Horrocks Engineers traffic access study. The hospital is expected to offer orthopedic and women’s care, and an emergency room, which could potentially encroach on similar services offered by Ferriter’s center.
"Half of [the Family Health Center’s] business is emergency room care, so if we’re not involved in the emergency room, then that would really be a detriment to us," he predicts.
The Family Health Center currently sees many urgent-care patients, and while Ferriter says the hospital is not looking to take over the whole emergency room at a new hospital, it would like to continue to be involved in E.R. care.
Ferriter sits on the IHC hospital board, he notes, so there’s no question he would be in favor of bringing a hospital to the Park City area. Of the 200-some people his clinic sees daily, he estimates one percent are sent to Salt Lake hospital "super specialists" or "super sub-specialists." A local hospital could save some a 30-minute trip down to the valley.
"I think the real question with the hospital is how much are we going to take care of up here, and how much is still going to need to go down to the University of Utah or LDS Hospital," he explained.
There will be services that a local hospital will be able to provide, but it will never completely replace Salt Lake City’s wealth of intensive care and medical experts, and it won’t cut back on the cost of expensive airlifts from the mountains, according to Ferriter.
"You have to sort of get a grasp of what level of emergency room they’re going to have," he said. "Anyone who is Life Flighted needs to go to a trauma center, so they’re still not going to go to the [proposed] hospital."
In potentially critical situations, many patients are in what doctors call "the critical hour of trauma," which means a patient needs to get to a trauma center’s operating room within an hour. The proposed hospital will not be a trauma center, Ferriter says.
"It’s not going to have the same quality of [intensive care units] as Salt Lake hospitals, so half of those evaluated in Park City or at the hospital’s emergency room are still going to need to go down to Salt Lake City, but half of them aren’t," he explained.
IHC’s plan is to handle some general care admissions, baby deliveries (obstetrics), and orthopedic care services that Ferriter’s clinic doesn’t provide. Therefore, a hospital would not compete with local clinics, but likely help them, he says.
"There’s really not going to be any change [for the Family Health Center]. The hospital will be a newer facility and bigger facility and one we can admit people overnight for, and I think possibly half of those ambulances that go down to Salt Lake could stay up here," Ferriter explained. Hospitals don’t take away patients, he says, only an influx of new doctors could take away patients. "The University of Utah clinic is already pulling up a lot of new people to their center," Ferriter observes. "It’s just a growing community and how it grows is the real question. I’m worried about [the competition], but that doesn’t mean a hospital is not a good thing for the community."
The University of Utah’s Redstone Health Center Medical Director and internal medicine doctor Mary Parsons likes the concept of a local hospital, but concurs that the details count. She would be supportive of the hospital, she says, depending on the quality and the services offered.
"There’s a small hospital in Heber and if the perception was that the hospital was a small, rural hospital like Heber’s with the same level of care, then I think that a lot of people would choose not to use it, and it wouldn’t be sustainable," she explained.
Ideally, Parsons says she would like to see emergency-trained physicians, dedicated in-patient physicians and high-level orthopedic care for orthopedic surgery at the new hospital.
"If a baby is delivered and is acutely ill, you have to have people that are trained and ready to take care of an acutely ill baby those are the kind of questions I have," she said.
According to Parsons, about 10 percent of patients at the Redstone center live outside the Park City area. Given the rapid growth of the entire county, she believes there will eventually be enough demand to warrant the size of the proposed hospital. "Some people are concerned about the size when they look at the drawings [of the IHC hospital], but I think Summit County is definitely growing and there’s definitely going to be a need within the time frame they’re planning," she said. "It really wouldn’t be replacing anything I do, it would be to provide the services that patients currently have to go to Salt Lake for."
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.