< Back to News

Urgent Care Center Questions Answered

  1. Why do Estes Park residents need a comprehensive Urgent Care Center?

Based on the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, the current services and limited hours provided by Estes Park Health Walk-in Clinic, UCHealth Timberline Medical Center Urgent Care, and Estes Park Salud Family Health Center do not meet our community’s desire for increased access to urgent care and health services.  Estes Park Health’s goal is to provide a more comprehensive urgent care option that includes its own dedicated laboratory and qualified, full-service X-ray capability, along with urgent dose pharmacy services to better meet the community’s urgent care needs.  Currently, the only Estes Park Health option for walk-in health care at Estes Park Health after the end of Physician Walk-in Clinic hours (8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday) is the Emergency Department.  Emergency Department care is an expensive option if only urgent care is needed.  A number of insurance companies do not pay emergency department fees for conditions that only require urgent care.  While the Estes Park Health Emergency Department is well prepared to deal with true emergencies that involve life-threatening conditions, the planned Estes Park Health Urgent Care Center would deal with less severe, non life-threatening conditions that still need timely treatment.

  1. What is the current and future need for urgent care in the Estes Valley?

Estes Park Health identified that the urgent care needs in the Estes Valley Community are expected to grow 16% in the next four years.  Estes Park’s visitor population now exceeds 4.5 million in one year.  The only local Estes Park Health option after Physician Clinic hours is the Emergency Department.  Emergency Care is an expensive option for someone with an urgent care need and a lot of insurance companies do not pay emergency department fees for urgent care conditions.  A significant number of visitors don’t know that urgent care is available in Estes Park, or they have a need for urgent care when current walk-in options are closed, so they travel out of the area to find urgent care in Loveland or Longmont.  With the full service Estes Park Health Urgent Care Center, visitors would be able to get urgent care in Estes Park and contribute to the support of the Estes Park Health system.

  1. What are the goals of the Urgent Care Center?

The Urgent Care Center of Estes Park Health is designed on the principal of providing accessible, affordable urgent healthcare needs for our community and our guests.  The Urgent Care Center will be defined as a facility that treats immediate needs that are non life-threatening.  It will be a walk-in medical clinic with extended hours, usually 12 hours per day and 7 days per week. It will better meet the needs of our visitors that are traveling out-of-network since commercial insurance companies typically view urgent care visits favorably.  The Urgent Care Center will have its own dedicated laboratory and, qualified, full-service X-ray capability, along with urgent dose pharmacy services.  It will have a licensed staff that is trained in Emergency Medicine.  Finally, as a department of Estes Park Health, the Urgent Care Center operates under the same license and requirements as the Hospital.

  1. What conditions would the Urgent Care Center treat?

The Estes Park Health Emergency Department is well prepared to deal with true emergencies that involve life-threatening conditions. The planned Estes Park Health Urgent Care Center would deal with less severe, non life-threatening conditions that still need timely treatment.  There will be Emergency Physician back up coverage, for any questions that arise.

  1. Will Urgent Care Services replace Emergency Care services?

Walk-in Urgent Care services are not intended to replace Emergency Department care at Estes Park Health.  If someone has a life-threatening condition, is unconscious, having trouble breathing, has a serious injury or may be having a heart attack or stroke – always call 911 and you will be taken to the Emergency Department

  1. How does the Urgent Care Center fit into the Estes Park Health Strategic Plan?

Providing affordable, accessible healthcare for our community was identified as one of the highest priorities in Estes Park Health’s 2018 Strategic Plan.  The plan for expanded urgent care would be a key part of addressing that community need and create a full service, accessible, affordable urgent care option.

  1. Why can’t people go to the Estes Park Health hospital for urgent care?

Currently Estes Park Health dedicates a doctor each day in the Physician Clinic (8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday) to see walk-in patients with same-day healthcare needs.  We are working on greater access to primary care and having one doctor fulfilling the Walk-In Clinic limits access to that doctor.  We’ve also identified that this Walk-in Clinic service doesn’t currently meet the needs of the 4.5 million visitors who are familiar with Urgent Care services in their home communities. We’ve also noted that the location of Estes Park Health does not provide a visible presence to our visiting population, and a more easily accessible, centrally located site would be preferable.

  1. How has Estes Park Health tried to address the need for urgent care to date?

Estes Park Health currently dedicates a doctor each day in the Clinic to see walk-in patients with same-day, healthcare needs. Currently, the only Estes Park Health option for walk-in healthcare after the end of Physician Walk-in Clinic hours (8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday) is Emergency Care.  This is an expensive option if only urgent care is needed and a number of insurance companies do not pay emergency department fees for conditions that only require urgent care.  We’ve identified that this Walk-in Clinic service doesn’t currently meet the needs of many of our visitors who are familiar with Urgent Care services in their home communities. Seeing a physician on a walk-in basis in the clinic is often out of network for the visiting public. It can be costly to the patient when their insurance will not cover the physician visit cost, while a more traditional urgent care visit is more likely to be covered.

  1. What other options for urgent care are available in Estes Park?

The other medical clinics in town, Timberline and Salud, provide walk-in clinic services during operating hours. Estes Park Health is also exploring bringing in a Community Paramedic program.  This service would bring urgent care directly to the patient at their home, motel, or campsite.  Think of it as an urgent care house call.

 Why doesn’t Estes Park Health open an Urgent Care Center at their current location?

The current Estes Park Health location simply cannot accommodate the additional space needed for Urgent Care.  There is not enough interior space or parking for an Urgent Care Center in addition to the current service offerings: Physician Clinic, Outpatient Care, Medical/Surgical Services, Rehabilitation Services, Laboratory, Diagnostic Imaging, Birth Center, Living Center, Emergency and Trauma Services.  Also, the location of Estes Park Health does not provide a visible presence to our visiting population.  A more easily accessible, centrally located site for the Urgent Care Center would be preferable.  In addition, the use of Radiology and Laboratory services for urgent care would significantly disrupt ongoing hospital services.  The Urgent Care Center staffing and equipment costs are identical at the current Estes Park Health location and the proposed location.  Since Estes Park Health is designated as a Critical Access Hospital, the distance for an urgent care center can be up to 35 miles away.

  1. Are visit costs different for the current Walk-in Clinic vs Urgent Care vs Emergency Department?

Yes, the cost can vary significantly.  For our visitors, their Physician Walk-in Clinic visit does not fall under the Urgent Care deductible for most insurance companies.  Visitors who come to the clinic for same day walk-in care are billed for a physician office visit.  For most visitors, the local physicians are out-of-network with their home town health plan and are either not covered or covered with a significantly higher deductible or copay.  Most health insurance covers urgent care services with a minor copay ($50) out of pocket.  A trip to the emergency room will hit your hospital copay ($100) and your hospital deductible.

  1. How will visit costs at the Urgent Care Center compare to visit costs to an Emergency Department?

The charges for urgent care services are expected to be dramatically lower than a visit to the Emergency department, as the cost of providing the service is much less.  Most health insurance covers urgent care services with a minor co-pay out of pocket. A trip to the emergency room will hit your hospital co-pay and deductible.

  1. What are some of the benefits the Estes Valley may experience from the Urgent Care Center?

In a letter of support for the Urgent Care Center, Executive Director of Cheley Camps, Jeff Cheley, identified some benefits for the Cheley Camps that our community could also experience. First, the option to use Urgent Care for non life-threatening conditions could reduce healthcare costs and would be a more appropriate level of care than Emergency Department visits.  Secondly, people paying for their own health care could get timely and effective early treatment at the less expensive Urgent Care Center instead of avoiding care because of higher emergency care costs.

  1. What differences would visitors to Estes Park experience at the Urgent Care Center?

A significant number of visitors don’t know that urgent care is available in Estes Park or have a need for urgent care when current options are closed, so they travel out of the area to find urgent care in Loveland or Longmont.  Visitors will now be able to get care in Estes Park and contribute to the support of Estes Park Health services within the system.  Visitors who manage to come to the clinics for same day Walk-in Clinic care are billed for a physician office visit.  For most visitors, the local physicians are out-of-network with their home town health plan and the care will either not be covered or will be covered with a significantly higher deductible or copay.

  1. How many times during the day will an ambulance go to the Urgent Care Center?

Ambulances will not bring patients to the Urgent Care Center.  Ambulances will only transport patients to the Estes Park Health Emergency Department.  A patient may need to be transported from the Urgent Care Center to the Estes Park Health Emergency Department, but that is expected to be a rare event.  The Ambulance department will not run lights and sirens from the Urgent Care Center until entering Hwy 34, either en-route to EPH or other Acute-Care facility as needed.

  1. What hours will the Urgent Care Center be open?

The Urgent Care Center is planned to be open 12 hours per day, between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days per week during the summer season (May thru October).  During the off-season, the Urgent Care Center is planned to be open five days per week with shorter hours.  Hours of operation will be adjusted to meet the needs of the community.

  1. How many visits per day will the Urgent Care Center have?

We anticipate that daily visits will average between 20 and 30 per day, or 2-3 per hour.

  1. Who will staff the Urgent Care Center?

Staffing plans call for a nurse practitioner, paramedic, and office staff.   There will be physician back-up call coverage.  Any conditions that require more than urgent care will be referred to the Estes Park Health Emergency Department.

  1. Will the Urgent Care Center be able to perform major x-ray, CT Scans, MRIs, Mammograms or Ultrasounds?

No. Any major x-ray needs like CT Scans, MRIs, Mammograms or Ultrasounds will be performed at the Estes Park Health hospital location.

  1. Where is the proposed Urgent Care Center located?

The address of the subject property is 800 Big Thompson Avenue, which is on the north side of Highway 34 just east of the Safeway gas station. This property is close to the downtown core and to the Safeway (Stanley Village) Shopping Center. The property is formally known as Lot 1 of the Stanley Heights Addition to the Town of Estes Park.  This is a 1977 plat of the first filing of Stanley Hills PUD.  Lot 1 is the subject lot and it is 1.95 acres in size. It is located in the Southwest Quarter of Section 19, Township 5 North, Range 72 West of the 6th P.M.

  1. Why does the proposed Urgent Care Center need to be located at 800 Big Thompson Avenue?

Useable real estate suitable for this service is in extremely short supply in Estes Park.  After exploring a number of potential locations, the proposed site collaboration with Alarado Business Park is the best option.  This new building project is visible from highway 34, central to all the traffic, and easily accessible and near the core of Estes Park.  The proposed site would have sufficient parking and interior space, and have the easy access and high visibility needed for success.  This will provide sufficient space for the Urgent Care Center and other healthcare related services.  It will become a healthcare services destination for our community and our visitors.

  1. Who are the owners/developers of the Alarado Business Center?

The record Owners of the property are Jeffery W. and Tami M. Berger. The Burger’s live in Williston, North Dakota.  The Developer and owner of this property is Alarado Properties LLC and is based in Holdrege, NE.

  1. What is the relationship between Estes Park Health and Alarado Properties, LLC?

Estes Park Health anticipates leasing approximately 80% (about 12,000 square feet) of the first floor of the building.  There will be a Jimmy Johns Sandwich shop next door.  The Urgent Care Center (UCC) is expected to use 3,000 sq ft.  The remaining 9,000 sq ft will be used for other healthcare related services, yet to be determined.

  1. Who is paying for the Alarado Business Center?

Alarado Properties, LLC is responsible for financing the construction and operation of the Alarado Business Center.  Estes Park Health has committed to leasing space in the Alarado Business Center for the Estes Park Health Urgent Care Center and other healthcare related services.

  1. What is the position of the Estes Park Health Board of Directors on this project?

The Estes Park Health Board of Directors support the Alarado Business Park Project’s proposal for addressing our community’s need for affordable, accessible urgent care through the establishment of the Estes Park Health Urgent Care Center.  Improving access to affordable health care for our community is one of the highest priorities in Estes Park Health’s 2018 Strategic Plan, and the proposal for expanded urgent care in the Alarado Business Park project would be a key part of addressing that community need.

  1. How will the Urgent Care Center affect Estes Park Health financially?

It is expected that up to one-third (1/3rd ) of the visits to the Emergency Department (ED) will go to the Urgent Care Center, thus reducing hospital revenues by approximately $2 million in charges.  While the Urgent Care Center charges will be significantly less, it is anticipated that additional volumes (ie visitors; visits down valley) will help to cover most of the difference, thus leaving the financial impact to the overall hospital finances relatively the same.  The hospital views this project as extremely important to the overall service to the community as well as maintaining financial viability for the future.  The impact of a competitor potentially capturing these visits and referring everyone down valley would most likely have a dramatic and highly negative impact on the hospital.

  1. What are the trends with urgent care nationally?

Nationally, urgent care is growing as a timely, convenient and cost effective health care option positioned between standard physician clinic visits and emergency care.

  1. What is Estes Park Health’s Mission?

Estes Park Health’s mission is “To make a positive difference in the health and well-being of all we serve.”  One way to do that is to initiate a model of care that provides the greatest access to the right kind of care at the time care is needed while using the most affordable care option.   To address our community’s need for accessible, affordable healthcare, one component would be the services planned for the proposed Estes Park Health Urgent Care Center.

  1. What is the history of Estes Park Health?

Estes Park Health was founded in 1975 by the residents of Estes Park.  Estes Park Health is the community’s comprehensive health-care resource with a focus on outstanding, compassionate care that consistently receives high patient-satisfaction scores.  More information on Estes Park Health can be found at www.eph.com.

  1. What services does Estes Park Health provide to the Estes Valley?

Estes Park Health integrates acute and emergency care with community health, and includes the full range of diagnostic and therapeutic health care through medical and surgical services; a 23-bed Critical Access acute care facility, a 24-hour emergency department with ambulance service and air transport; a primary care and specialty clinic; home health and hospice; and a 60-bed skilled nursing facility.

  1. What is Estes Park Health’s service area?

The Estes Park Health system serves the entire Estes Valley and Rocky Mountain National Park.

  1. Who can I contact to ask questions about Estes Park Health?

Contact:  Lisa Taylor, Public Relations 970-577-4390

  1. What is the description of the Alarado Business Center?

The proposal for this currently vacant property is a mixed use commercial and residential building including a 12,846 square-foot urgent care and other healthcare services facility (in collaboration with the Estes Park Health), a 1,800 square-foot sandwich shop called Jimmy John’s, seven 3,040 sq ft upstairs apartment units to be used for employee housing. Also proposed is one two level 2,200 sq ft suite for Jimmy John’s use, and a 1,200 square-foot apartment for Estes Park Health employees. All employee housing units meet the definition (#99) in the Code: occupant employed in the Estes Valley. The current zoning is CO or commercial outlying. All the proposal’s uses are allowed in this zoning district.