New Steamboat Springs freestanding ER could open by late summer
January 29, 2017
Steamboat Springs — The new owner of a building slated to become a freestanding emergency room at the intersection of South Lincoln Avenue and Mid Valley Drive said the business would offer competitive rates and employ Steamboat Springs-based doctors and staff.
Dr. Dallas Bailes, who has lived in Steamboat part-time for five years and worked in hospitals in Craig and Granby, as well as in Texas and New York, opened a similar ER in Texarkana, Texas in late 2015.
That business has been highly successful, allowing Bailes to become more of a silent partner and giving him time to create a similar operation in the former Staples building in Steamboat.
He purchased the building for $2.65 million earlier this month and expects to spend $3 million renovating and equipping the new ER facility.
Bailes said that freestanding ERs can benefit from not having complicated computer record-keeping systems or administrative oversight.
Doctors who work at the business will be part-owners and have the flexibility to run the practice as they see fit.
"We're not a giant corporation," Bailes said. "We don't answer to anyone but ourselves and the community."
He said patients who arrive for emergency care can expect to see a doctor in less than 10 minutes, regardless of the urgency of the emergency, and can expect to learn costs upfront and choose between services, if desired.
The ER, tentatively named Steamboat Emergency Center, would accept insurance or cash payments, but would be unable to accept Medicaid and Medicare, because freestanding ERs are not regulated by the federal government, Bailes said. The center could still see those patients, but they would be billed as cash-paying patients.
Bailes said the center doesn't plan to be an ambulance receiving facility, and he is unsure whether a person getting into an ambulance could request to come to the center instead of Yampa Valley Medical Center.
"Our business is going to be visibility, and we'll have a marketing director and rely on word-of-mouth," Bailes said. "We don't want to take away from the hospital. We have nothing bad to say about it. But we will be a competitor."
In addition to Bailes, Dr. Matt Freeman, who has previously worked in Craig, plans to work at the new ER, and Bailes is in talks with other doctors from Northwest Colorado to join the staff.
One hiccup that could delay the opening of Bailes' proposed freestanding ER is proposed legislation, SB17-064 in Colorado to create a new licensing program for the facilities.
Depending on whether the legislation is approved, Bailes is hopeful to open Steamboat Emergency Center between August and November.