Hospital adds $18 million to local economy

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With an annual economic impact of $9 million, doubled to $18 million when the entire medical campus is included, Pikes Regional Hospital has come a long way since the grand-opening ceremony Oct. 1, 2007.

With 170 employees, PPRH has a broad financial reach across the retail and commercial sector of the county as well as the region.

Culmination of a grassroots effort by a small group of Teller County residents, the hospital was built with fundraisers, private donations, grants and financial infusions from Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co. as well as a loan from the USDA.

In just five years, the hospital launched the Telemedicine technology that offers immediate care for stroke victims, completed a health-needs assessment that relied on input from the residents and initiated a program for senior citizens that is educational as well as social.

“I think we're as important to the community as the community is to us,” said Rodney Bice, chief nursing officer and interim chief executive officer.

In a small county with a population of about 23,000, collaborating with local health-care agencies has been the key to the hospital's success, Bice said.

“We really found the collaboration was helpful during the fire, all of us working together and watching out for each other,” he said.

Statistics chart the hospital's effect on the area's medical needs. For instance, from April 2011 through March 2012, 1,933 residents from Teller County received in-patient services; 524 of them were admitted to the hospital.

“We're not a full-service hospital, we're a critical access hospital,” Bice said. “If we can't take care of you here we can get you to the next level of care very quickly.”

In response to the demand for family-practice physicians who specialize in sports medicine, PPRH added Drs. Alex and Heather Autry. “Heather has an emphasis on women's health, which is huge up here,” Bice said. “A lot of women are looking for female practitioners.”

The Autrys, with Kurt Wever, M.D. and Lisa Diamond, N.P. see patients at the hospital's medical-care clinic, which guarantees same-day appointments and is open from 1 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

“Our main goal in extending the hours and adding the Autrys to the clinic is to make it more convenient for our community, so the residents don't have to leave to seek health care,” Bice said.

In July, the hospital kicked off a marketing campaign to spread the word around the region through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, billboards, radio, television and email blasts.

“We're planning for the next five years; that's part of our strategy,” Bice said. “We also want to make sure the community is aware that we're here.”

To honor the hospital's donors as well as the employees, the hospital hosts a fifth-anniversary party from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at Shining Mountain Golf Club.

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