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Find Excellent Health Care in Grand Junction, CO

The residents of Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade enjoy a vast array of options to stay healthy close to home.

By Patsy B. Weiler on February 6, 2023

Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mesa University

Grand Junction, the largest city in the Grand Valley region, is the epicenter of comprehensive medical care for the residents of Colorado’s Western Slope. In addition to excellent hospitals, the region is also providing higher education opportunities – tuition-free in some cases – to prepare the next generation of health care workers in various fields.

A decade in the making, the newly opened St. Mary’s Medical Education Center on the campus of Colorado Mesa University is a shining example of the collaborative efforts of the City of Grand Junction, the university and area hospitals – Community Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center, now part of Intermountain Healthcare. Both facilities have long relationships of working together with the university to improve life in the Grand Valley.

St. Mary's Medical Education Center
Western Colorado Community College

The 24,202-square-foot center provides a place to teach students to be qualified physician assistants (PAs), occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs), resulting in an educated workforce ready to meet the needs of the region. It houses 12 classrooms and laboratories, including a cadaver lab, group study areas and office space for staff.

Joining financial forces for the future, community partners dug deep and made substantial contributions to the effort. St. Mary’s $3 million gift and Community Hospital’s $1 million donation were the single-largest gifts made in the history of each hospital.

“Both St. Mary’s and CMU have a regional mission to serve,” says St. Mary’s President Bryan Johnson. “While CMU educates students, we serve the community health and wellness needs of Western Colorado. The two purposes intersect. And many of our nurses and medical professionals are hired from CMU. The new St. Mary’s Medical Education Center will be essential for addressing educational needs and future community health care needs as well.”

The City of Grand Junction also committed $1 million to the project. Emphasizing how invaluable the specialty training offered at the Medical Education Center is for health care organizations in the region, particularly in the smaller rural communities, Chris Thomas, Community Hospital president, sees the gift as an investment and not a donation.

“Our contribution to help support the new PA/PT/OT program is an investment in the education of individuals looking to go into the health care field,” he says. “Western Colorado has a growing need for health care professionals and Community Hospital is proud to be a part of this endeavor.”

Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mesa University

Free Tuition

A joint health education initiative between Western Colorado Community College, a division of Colorado Mesa University, and Western Colorado Area Health Education Center (WCAHEC) is helping to meet the health care needs of the region by covering tuition for individuals wanting to become certified nurse aides.

The funding is being provided by a $2 million grant awarded to the Health Education Center by the U.S. Department of Labor. Participants cannot be high school students and must be willing to work when they have completed their certified nursing assistant training.

Georgia Hoaglund, executive director of WCAHEC, says the center has more than 40 organizations across the area where graduates can complete a yearlong paid health care internship in a variety of areas, from hospitals to home health care.

“We work with students in workforce development and job retention,” Hoaglund says. “The center works to place them in employment that will be a good fit with their schedules and lifestyles. Also, we are there to help sustain students during their internship, providing needs like gas money, buying scrubs, childcare costs and other items. Helping students succeed, in turn, helps to meet the need for health care workers to care for our neighbors.”

The community college is also offering emergency medical technician, or EMT, paramedic, pharmacy tech, phlebotomy and gerontology courses virtually free through funding provided by their Learn for Less Initiative, apprenticeships, Mesa County scholarships and Care Forward Colorado.

Rendering of the James Pulsipher Regional Cancer Center in Grand Junction, CO
Community Hospital

Coming Soon: A New Cancer Center

There is cause for excitement in Grand Junction with a dynamic expansion underway at Community Hospital that will provide a permanent home on the hospital campus for area residents to receive life-saving cancer treatment.

Projected to be completed by the end of 2023, the 130,000-square-foot James Pulsipher Regional Cancer Center and medical office building will offer patients and their families care that treats the whole patient and not just the disease.

Community Hospital’s award-winning Grand Valley Oncology group is one of the fastest-growing areas at the hospital and will continue to deliver outstanding physicians, innovative technology and leading-edge service close to home when the doors open at their new address.

The center will feature twin state-of-the-art linear accelerators. The linear accelerators will provide radiation oncology to help treat all parts of the body by delivering high-energy radiation to the exact site of the patient’s tumor. Using image-guided radiation therapy, oncologists can precisely track a patient’s cancer and changes in the tumor as well as monitor treatment to help increase cure rate and reduce risks to healthy tissue.

The facility is named for local financial services executive James Pulsipher, who donated $1 million toward the $53 million project. “I’m really excited for what this is going to do, which is revolutionize cancer care in Western Colorado,” Pulsipher says. “I’ve had many friends afflicted by cancer and some have passed away. This is to honor them and help the community. There’s always a need to help.”

Hospitals in the Region

The combination of natural beauty, outdoor access and the ability to make a bigger difference in a smaller community may account in part for the exceptional diversity and depth of health care in Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade. Keep reading for a sampling of the region’s health care options:

Family Health West: This medical center in Fruita, formally known as the Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center, has been serving the community for more than 75 years. The newly named FHW hospital has 25 beds and a Level IV emergency room, and services it provides include primary care, orthopedics, podiatry, wound healing, an arthritis center, pain management, rehabilitation, surgery and pediatric behavioral health. FHW is the only nonprofit health care organization in Western Colorado, and it also operates more than 30 clinics that serve communities throughout the Grand Valley.

St. Mary’s Medical Center: This medical center in Grand Junction, the largest medical center between Denver and Salt Lake City, is part of SCL Health. Founded in 1896, the medical center is known for its birthing center. Also offered are cardiac and vascular services, emergency and trauma services, imaging, a Level IIIB neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), orthopedic and spine services, and surgical specialties.

Community Hospital: This 60-bed Level II trauma center in Grand Junction offers outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient treatment. The hospital opened a four-story, 140,000-square-foot facility in 2016, and in 2021 opened a new cardiovascular center.

Caring For Our Veterans

Grand Valley also benefits from the VA Western Colorado Health Care System, which serves 37,000 veterans with its 53-bed facility in Grand Junction, in addition to clinics and telehealth services.

Appleton Clinics: A unique health-care option is Appleton Clinics, a primary care practice for members who pay a monthly fee that assures them of unlimited office visits – and even house calls – to cover an impressive array of issues, from checkups, stitches and broken bones to diabetes counseling, treatment of serious chronic illness and more. Vaccines, inoculations and X-rays are included in the $99 per adult fee. The first two children are free, and $10 per month per additional child.

Appleton Clinics does not file insurance claims. But it does offer wholesale prices on things like drugs, CT scans and MRIs, ultrasounds, lab work and more, through partnerships with local hospitals, labs and other providers.

– Writers Laura Hill and Kevin Litwin contributed to this article.

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