New Steamboat Emergency Center scheduled to open mid-November
October 22, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When patients walk through the doors of Steamboat Springs' newest free-standing emergency room, owner Dallas Bailes, MD, says they will be greeted with a warm smile, understanding staff and top-notch doctors.
"I have one of these down in Texas, so I'm familiar with the model, and that's why I wanted to bring it up here, Bailes said. "In this model, we really aim to have high-level aesthetics that will make people feel comfortable. The whole concept of the freestanding emergency room came from 'ER' docs that really were tired of working for hospitals."
The new emergency center, which is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road in the former Staples building, is scheduled to open in mid-November.
Bailes said about 80 percent of the patients who come to an emergency room are released the same day, and another 20 percent need more than 24 hours of care. Then, he added, there is the 5 to 10 percent of patients who need to be transferred or require long-term care.
"Ninety to 95 percent are treated and discharged, or treated for up to 24 hours,"Bailes said. "We can do that in this facility."
In Bailes’ business model, the staff at the Steamboat Emergency Center will be made up of board-certified doctors or physicians with significant emergency room experience. Because the physicians are also part owners of the business, Bailes said they will be able to make critical decisions in a timely manner and provide both efficient and high-level care at the seven-day-per-week, 24-hour care center.
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"With a physician-owned model, we can do all that from the top down leadership," Bailes said. "One of the physicians who is working here is one of the owners. We have really streamlined the process, and we run it like a business that wants to have good customer satisfaction."
Bailes said his free-standing emergency room will feature many of the services and much of the same equipment found in a hospital emergency room, including CAT scan, 24-hour ultra sound, radiology, EKG machines, medications capable of addressing acute stroke and acute heart attack patients and top-level care.
"When patients walk through the door, the first thing they will see is the fireplace," Bailes said. "I've trained our staff to model their behavior after a 5-star hotel. We want the patient to feel like they just walked into say, a St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton, and you just feel better, and that's not an accident. Our staff is trained to stand up, greet the patient, show empathy and understanding.”
Bailes said the top priority of his emergency room will be taking care of patients’ needs and providing top-level customer service at the same time. Bailes said his emergency room will accept most insurance plans and will offer options to those who may be uninsured or under-insured.
Though, the new center will not accept Medicaid or Medicare, Bailes said the facility will not turn people away and will find ways to work with people who need financial help.
Bailes said he has been asked why this new emergency room is needed, since the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center features a top-rate emergency room just up the road.
"We try to do everything we can to save patients’ time, to respect their time and to empathize with whatever their problem is and provide them with a high level of emergency care 24 hours a day," Bailes said. "Does the hospital do that, 'Yeah I think they do a good job?
“Some people have asked me why I'm doing this, and I ask them why do we need Cloverdale when we have Cafe Diva? Or why do we need another Chinese restaurant when we already have one? I think competition is good,” Bailes explained. “I think it is important for the community that there is not just one type of business in town. I'm confident, because we are really good at what we do, and we are really going to benefit people in town."
Frank May, chief operating officer at YVMC, said he was not surprised to learn a free standing emergency room was coming to Steamboat — they have become very popular in urban areas the past few years.
But, he doesn't think those centers, alone, are responsible for the changing landscape of healthcare, and he is also confident that the Yampa Valley Medical Center is ready for whatever may come in health care.
"Health care is changing a lot," May said. "I think we are going to see, that we, as providers, need to be working more toward the total continuum of care for people who are coming to our facilities."
Emergency room doctor David Wilkinson said the hospital is vested in the Steamboat community, and the staff at the emergency room is no different. He pointed to the emergency room’s involvement in an opioid reductions program and the recent announcement that it is slashing prices for minor emergency care as examples of that. He doesn't think the addition of a new emergency care facility in Steamboat is going to change that investment in the local community.
"I don't look at this as 'we' are going into competition with anybody," Wilkinson said. "I think we are going to do what we do and continue to try to do it better. We are going to create better values."
Wilkinson thinks the hospital has the best interest of the community at heart and said it has been listening as those living in Steamboat have been faced with rising medical costs and higher deductibles.
"We are compassionate and cognizant of the fact that people are having to make harder medical decisions," Wilkinson said. "Our pricing modifications took place after community surveys and developed over the last two years."
Those surveys resulted in reduced costs for things such as sore throats and minor lacerations. The information also led to cuts in charges for other procedures, including MRIs.
"It really doesn't change a lot from what we do," Wilkinson said. "We want people in the valley to have a choice about their medical care. It's expensive, deductibles are high and people are acutely looking for options and how healthcare fits into their budget. But we do believe, and I believe having done this for a long time, that people are going to make those choices based on the quality of the care they receive, the safety, the outcome and the patient experience, and these sorts of tangible things about what good medicine is."