Axis in consolidation

New health complex to sit on property near Mercy

Axis Health System has acquired two properties that will allow it to consolidate all services in Grandview.

“It’s the first step,” agency Executive Director Bern Heath said Wednesday. “Realistically, it will be five to seven years before we can expand.”

At present, Axis provides mental-health services in the Columbine Center on Sawyer Drive, at 15th Street and Camino del Rio and at the Crossroads Center in Grandview next to Mercy Regional Medical Center.

As a first step toward consolidating services at an expanded Crossroads complex, the two properties it acquired Tuesday give Axis an S-shaped 3.3 acres that abut Wilson Gulch Road.

Axis acquired the properties from the Crader family. One was purchased, the other was donated, which gave the Craders an enterprise-zone tax credit. But it required a land swap with neighboring Mercy Regional Medical Center to connect the two parcels to the existing 1-acre Crossroads site.

One problem solved, Heath said, but three other requirements remain.

Construction of Wilson Gulch Road must be completed for unrestricted access. Axis can’t use Three Springs Boulevard off U.S. Highway 160 because the increased traffic new services would generate violate average daily trip standards set by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Expansion of the Crossroads site would require $18 million. Expansion would include adding two stories to the existing building and new construction on two existing footprints, a total of 17,000 square feet.

Expansion also requires a different approach to funding health care. The system has to change from fee-for-service to fee-for-results, Heath said. Without integrated health care, the available money won’t be around, he said.

Reform could come through an expected call by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration in early 2013 for proposals to create a Federally Qualified Health Center.

Integrated service involves looking at a patient’s overall needs, Heath said. A person would be screened during an initial visit for potential substance abuse, mental-health problems and chronic diseases as well as being seen for the immediate problem.

Cortez Integrated Healthcare, a $3.5 million Axis clinic that opened eight months ago, will be the model for future care, Heath said Wednesday.

The Cortez clinic links primary care and psychological treatments. All information is entered in an electronic records system designed just for that facility.

Heath said integrated care is needed because 50 percent of patients who seek primary care also have mental-health issues.

“I proposed getting more property on the Mercy campus to expand services three years, three months and 17 days ago,” Heath said. “It will take time, but we’re on the way.”

daler@durangoherald.com

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