Already one of the largest employers in La Plata County, Mercy Regional Medical Center expects to expand with the completion of a new hospice facility this summer.
The 11,000-square-foot facility will include eight beds on 1.3-acres and cost about $5.6 million to develop.
Mercy employs 1,356 people and will be hiring more people to staff the facility, unofficially called Hospice of Mercy Experience (HOME), but it is unknown how many because the operational plan for the facility isn’t finished yet, said Tina Gallegos, director of Mercy Home Health, Hospice of Mercy and Palliative Care.
She expects almost all of the new hires to be local.
Health care employment across Colorado has grown about 3.2 percent annually since 2000, according to a recent report from the University of Colorado. The report predicts that the supply of nurses and doctors may lag compared to demand because 40 percent of doctors and registered nurses are over 55.
However, Gallegos has not experienced a shortage, she said.
Thus far, the Mercy Health Foundation has raised $5.2 million for the new building, mostly from individuals. Fundraising is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, said Karen Midkiff, the chief development officer of the Mercy Health Foundation.
Mercy is part of the Centura network and it provides funding for equipment and construction.
“Each year every facility in Colorado receives their fair share of capital funding to whatever level the budget can allow,” Midkiff said.
But it is up to the hospital to ensure that the community’s needs are met, Midkiff said
Before the Mercy Health Foundation started fundraising, it completed a feasibility study that found the entire project could be funded through donations.
“The community loved the project. They wanted to rally around it,” she said.
The facility will help meet the needs of an aging population across the region, Midkiff said.
FCI Constructors is building the facility, and about 100 people will work on the new building during its construction, Midkiff said.
FCI is building eight private rooms that will be larger than the hospital’s rooms to accommodate large families and longer stays.
One cannot compare the cost of receiving care in a hospice facility versus home care because there are too many variables, such as insurance and the length of time the patient spends in the facility, Midkiff said in an email.
Two operational studies were done before construction started to make sure the project would be financially self-sustaining, Midkiff said.