The new UCHealth Greeley Hospital will open this summer in west Greeley. Courtesy UCHealth

New Greeley hospital to open by mid-summer

GREELEY — Perhaps it’s a good thing Marilyn Schock works in a hospital.

UCHealth is close to turning Greeley into a two-hospital town, a huge milestone for a mid-sized city with one established hospital since 1904. The new UCHealth Greeley Hospital should be open by the first part of July, depending on state inspections, and there won’t be a soft opening like the kind you see when a big restaurant comes to town.

In fact, research shows that more than 25 percent of patients at other UCHealth hospitals in Loveland and Fort Collins are Weld County residents, and the bulk of those patients live in Greeley. UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, even with more than 170 beds, occasionally finds itself stuffed to capacity. It’s possible that the Greeley hospital could be close to capacity as soon as it opens, right? Just look at the numbers, and…

“You just about gave me a heart attack,” Schock said, who will manage the new hospital.

Still, UCHealth’s numbers show that Greeley and the area should continue to support North Colorado Medical Center, which is managed by Banner Health Systems, but also UCHealth’s new hospital and the number of clinics next door that make up the new medical campus off U.S. 34 and 65th Avenue. More than a dozen clinics now see patients in the building just east of the hospital. They opened just a couple of months ago.

“Right now so many folks go to Loveland and Fort Collins, and instead of driving over there, most of the same services will be here,” Schock said. “There are people who don’t want to leave Greeley for care.”

The reasons for the hospital are what you’d expect if you live in Northern Colorado. The area is booming and expected to double by 2040. Greeley continues to grow mostly west as well, although there’s been some recent activity on the east side. And an aging baby boomer population needs more care.

The lobby area of the new UCHealth Greeley Hospital is shown in this photograph. Courtesy UCHealth

The hospital will open with 50 beds but has the capacity to grow to 96 beds with just some finishing work and will eventually support 150 beds, Schock said. UCHealth has no timeline for when it will move beyond the 50. It will also offer a full emergency department. The stand-alone emergency room run by UCHealth in the marketplace by King Soopers at the corner of 71st Avenue and 10th Street will become an urgent care in a few months.

“Every part of the building area was created to grow,” Schock said. “We’re opening very smart. I think we’ll be busy, but we will find out when we open. We will ramp up relatively quickly.”

UCHealth hopes to work with NCMC to determine what level of care the area needs regardless of the situation. NCMC’s trauma capability, for instance, is a level higher than what UCHealth Greeley Hospital can offer. Medical Center of the Rockies is at the same level as NCMC.

But Schock also acknowledges the two hospitals will compete for patients.

“But I think competition sharpens everyone for higher quality,” Schock said. “You have to be more at the top of your game.”

Margo Karsten
Karsten

To that end, NCMC hopes to keep patients out of the hospital as UCHealth opens one to compete with them. NCMC will continue to focus on urgent care and outpatient services, said Margo Karsten, western region president and the Northern Colorado CEO for NCMC, McKee and Banner Fort Collins.

“Patients want better access to care, not beds,” Karsten said. “What we want to work on is high-quality, low-cost options, such as more outpatient procedures. That will lower health care costs. Adding more inpatient beds is not the direction you want to take if you want to lower health-care costs.”

NCMC also will find ways to differentiate itself from UCHealth, such as its recent acquisition of TRU Hospice of Northern Colorado, Karsten said, and its geriatric mental health care services in Loveland. It will also emphasize its partnership with the highly respected MD Anderson cancer care center.

Whether it works, or if NCMC has anything to fear, remains to be seen. Longmont United Hospital faced a similar situation when UCHealth opened its Longs Peak Hospital in 2017, and Longmont United had to lay off workers. But the opening was a culmination of the issues that began in 2014, when physicians from the Longmont Clinic across the street from Longmont United aligned with UCHealth. Those physicians began to send patients to UCHealth hospitals instead of Longmont United. When Longs Peak opened, Longmont United lost even more patients, something you would expect regardless of the circumstances.

“It was a 1-2 punch,” said Tina Johnson, the CEO of Longmont United Hospital who was not around at the time.

Longmont United survived by focusing on its caregivers, Johnson said.

“We believe in what they bring and how they provide a caring and individual experience,” she said, “and we promote that in our materials.”

Johnson expressed doubt that UCHealth will be able to work closely with NCMC, saying “she hasn’t experienced that” as of yet.

‘But I have talked to people at UCHealth who are lovely, so I don’t know why that couldn’t happen,” Johnson said. “We haven’t seen the opportunity to collaborate, but we aren’t focused on that either.”

Many in Greeley do see UCHealth’s opening as a way to siphon off money from the wealthier west end of the city, but Schock said UCHealth’s goal isn’t to put NCMC out of business.

“It’s how to ensure to the community that you have the highest level of care,” she said. “We will work together. Hopefully the community really sees this. I’ve been in Northern Colorado for 35 years, and there aren’t many places in the U.S. that have this level of care that we have in this community.”

 

GREELEY — Perhaps it’s a good thing Marilyn Schock works in a hospital.

UCHealth is close to turning Greeley into a two-hospital town, a huge milestone for a mid-sized city with one established hospital since 1904. The new UCHealth Greeley Hospital should be open by the first part of July, depending on state inspections, and there won’t be a soft opening like the kind you see when a big restaurant comes to town.

In fact, research shows that more than 25 percent of patients at other UCHealth hospitals in Loveland and Fort Collins are Weld County residents, and the bulk of those patients live in Greeley. UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, even with more than 170 beds, occasionally finds itself stuffed to capacity. It’s possible that the Greeley hospital could be close to capacity as soon as it opens, right? Just look at the numbers, and…

“You just about gave me a heart attack,” Schock said, who will manage the new hospital.

Still, UCHealth’s numbers show that Greeley and the area should continue to support North Colorado Medical Center, which is managed by Banner Health Systems, but also UCHealth’s new hospital and the number of clinics next door that make up the new medical campus off U.S. 34 and 65th Avenue. More than a dozen clinics now see patients in the building just east of the hospital. They opened just a couple of months ago.

“Right…