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Animas Surgical Hospital expanding off site

Ambulatory Surgery Center at Escalante set to open in summer

Animas Surgical Hospital is building an ambulatory surgery center in a medical office complex in the Escalante area, next to the new dual-sited Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites with opening day estimated to come in June or July.

ASH’s 5,000-square-foot Ambulatory Surgery Center at Escalante will have two operating rooms and will conduct between six to 10 outpatient surgeries a day, focusing initially on ear, nose, throat and hand surgeries, said ASH CEO Joe Theine during a tour of the space, which is now under construction.

More outpatient procedures will be added to the facility down the road, Theine said.

“We closed in on capacity at Rivergate a couple of years ago, and we’ve looked at expanding a couple of times, but it never worked out. But we never stopped looking,” he said. “We were approached with this opportunity, and it’s the right fit at the right time to grow beyond our walls.”

When the center opens, it will have an eight-person staff, which likely will expand as the number of procedures increase. ASH currently has 165 employees, and they will be shared between the Rivergate hospital and the new Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Durango’s popularity as a retirement community, further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, helped ASH executives conclude an expansion of space could now be supported well into the future, Theine said.

Outpatient surgery times will range from 10 minutes to several hours, Theine said. ASH has five operating rooms at its main hospital in Rivergate and some ambulatory surgeries will continue to occur out of the main hospital, he said.

Initially, the ambulatory surgery center was being developed by a company out of Michigan, but ASH purchased the development to meet its growing needs, Theine said. Financial details about the transaction are not being released.

ASH Ambulatory Surgery Center will occupy the first floor of the 18,000-square-foot Rocket Medical Plaza Building, 1266 Escalante Drive, developed by Charles Albert, a longtime Durango innkeeper and the developer of the adjacent dual-purpose Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites.

The second floor of the Rocket Medical Plaza Building is occupied by Four Corners Foot & Ankle and the third floor is occupied by Southwest Eye Consultants. The ASH Ambulatory Surgery Center will complete full occupancy on the first floor of the medical office building, Albert said.

Albert has owned the property for 15 years, and the building was initially planned as doctors’ offices until the demand arose from ASH for a outpatient surgery center, Albert said.

The building initially was designed with intensive plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems needed for medical purposes, something that proved wise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a glut of office space in Durango.

However, the office space glut has not put a dent in the demand for medical office space, which remains at a premium, Albert said.

“We started with development a couple of years ago, and we always viewed it as a medical facility,” Albert said. “A medical building works well sharing a parking lot with our hotels. They need the spaces in the day, and we need them at night.”

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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