The Delta County Memorial Hospital District has announced plans to open a walk-in clinic in Paonia. The district selected the former Bank of Colorado location at 218 Grand Avenue for the clinic and purchased the 6,000-square-foot building in late January. They plan to open the clinic as early as this May.
"We felt it was a good location," said hospital CEO Jason Cleckler. They considered several sites in Paonia. The biggest considerations in choosing the right space were visibility and access. Grand Avenue has high visibility, ease of access and proximity to a handicap ramp. In addition to on-street parking, a public parking lot is located behind the building.
"From a price standpoint, it was very reasonable," said Cleckler. Because it was recently renovated, remodeling is expected to go quickly.
It also has two bank safes in the back, which the bank didn't want. "I don't know what we'll do with those," said Cleckler.
Since the district only recently closed on the building, no official opening date has been set. "Optimistically, we could be looking at May," and no later than June, he said. DCMH plans to hire five or six new employees and is currently seeking a nurse practitioner to run the clinic.
DCMH is a non-profit hospital district governed by an elected board of directors. Its goal is to provide quality medical care throughout Delta County, said Cleckler. In 2015, the hospital opened DCMH Family Medicine in Hotchkiss. They have been operating out of the office of Dr. Douglas Huene, but have outgrown that space. In November DCMH broke ground on a 10,000-square-foot facility in Hotchkiss. They anticipate a ribbon-cutting ceremony in June and to be up and running by July, said Cleckler.
Based on research and comments from the public, DCMH identified a need for a medical facility in Paonia. Community members said they were happy about the Hotchkiss clinic and recognize how it can serve the area, but also said that the 10-mile drive can be a barrier to some people.
In addition the community expressed a need in Paonia for same-day appointments for treating minor injuries, sore throats, colds and the flu and issues that can easily be handled on short notice. That can also save trips to the emergency room in Delta. The clinic may also consider providing high school sports physicals, said Cleckler. "That's a big need," especially in fall when students head back to school.
Patients will still need to see their primary care providers, have regular checkups and be treated for chronic conditions at the Hotchkiss clinic. The goal is to have the two clinics work together and share information in order to provide the best patient care in the North Fork area, said Cleckler.
DCMH also hopes that the facility will benefit the local economy. "When you look at the economy of any town, I think that the ability to provide health care helps to develop other jobs and bring new people, businesses and jobs into the community," said Cleckler. He also hopes it helps that people will know they have access to health care "right there in town."