Future of Russell Street building remains unknown | CraigDailyPress.com

Future of Russell Street building remains unknown

Nicole Inglis

The entrance of the former The Memorial Hospital, 745 Russell St., now has signs to direct patients to the correct destination, the new hospital facility at 750 Hospital Loop. The Valley Health Center, in the basement at the Russell Street building, is consolidating into one area on the main floor. Meanwhile, Dr. Andy Hughes will move his TMH Medical Clinic from Yampa Avenue to the old hospital campus.

— When The Memorial Hos¬≠pital moved its operation to a new, $42.6 million building at 750 Hospital Loop, it didn't leave an empty shell of a building behind.

At 745 Russell St., the front door that admitted patients and visitors to TMH for 60 years still slides open and closed for patients of the TMH Medical Clinic and Valley Health Center.

The Valley Health Center, previously in the basement at the Russell Street building, will continue to offer OB/GYN and specialist services.

To consolidate space and resources, TMH is moving Dr. Andy Hughes and two physician assistants located in the MRI Center on Yampa Avenue to the old hospital building.

With the new MRI machine inside the new facility, TMH plans to end its lease on the old machine and the building in an effort to save space and money.

Samantha Johnston, TMH's chief of organizational excellence, said the move is ideal for the hospital.

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"It makes sense for us to consolidate into a building that is already paid for and available," she said.

To terminate the lease on the MRI building by the end of the year, Hughes and his practice will be set up in their new home and open for business Dec. 21.

The move will not affect any set appointments.

TMH plans to occupy some parts of the old building for several years until it has time to work out the possibilities of a medical office building at the new campus.

However, TMH is not using every square foot of its old home and has been in negotiations with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Asso­ciation, which hopes to one day expand its facilities beyond the south end of the building it occupies.

Since the VNA applied for federal and state grants potentially amounting to more than $3 million, it has expressed interest in taking over some or all of the old hospital campus.

Earlier in the fall, TMH and the VNA discussed the possibilities of joint occupancy in the building or even selling the whole space to the VNA and continuing to occupy the clinic space for free for several more years.

"We are not at the point where anything has been determined," Johnston said. "Nothing is set in stone at all. Right now, it's just a waiting game for them."

News of the grant money was supposed to arrive in early November, but the VNA has not heard back.

Suzi Mariano, VNA public information coordinator, said the VNA hopes to hear one way or the other by the end of the week but that no headway will be made until the results arrive.

"Everything's on hold until we hear from the feds," she said. "We are as we always were."

Johnston said TMH also is waiting for final word on the grant.

"We're still waiting and in negations and in an active discussion with the VNA," Johnston said. "We're just waiting along with them. In order for them to make real decisions, they have to know one way or the other."

However, she said TMH was open to working with the VNA no matter the outcome of the grant.

"In the building, we know what space we need, and we've communicated that to the VNA," she said. "Beyond that, there's no reason we won't entertain ideas with what to do with other parts of the building, with the VNA having priority. We're very open to allowing them to expand into whatever portion of the building they need. We know they have a need."

TMH and the VNA are not the only two parties involved in discussions about the future of the Russell Street building.

The Moffat County Human Services Partnership is a joint venture of several nonprofits in the area that is looking to apply the best and most-needed services to the county-owned building.

Johnston said some parties want the space to be used for long-term care, while others are looking for a drug rehab center.

It also could provide housing for local non-profits.

"What we're asking is what does the community need and what is the best use of building?" she said. "And then, do these two things match?"

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