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Centura Health closes urgent care center at Purgatory Resort

Durango EMS crews anticipate increased call volume this winter
The slopes of Purgatory Resort reflect in the window of Mercy Hospital’s urgent care center. Centura Health will no longer operate the urgent care center at Purgatory Resort. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Centura Health will no longer operate an urgent care center at Purgatory Resort, according to the resort’s general manager.

David Rathbun declined to discuss details about the closure, but he said Purgatory will maintain a similar level of emergent care even without the urgent care.

“Although we are disappointed to lose such a strong and stable partner in Centura Mercy as the clinic and urgent care provider for North La Plata County, we will continue to maintain a similar level of emergent care for resort guests through our professional ski patrol team, Durango Fire Protection District’s Station 15 located 10 minutes from the resort base, and critical care air ambulance coverage provided by Centura’s Flight For Life Lifeguard 5 helicopter serving the Emergency Department at Mercy Medical Center in Durango,” said Rathbun, the resort’s general manager, in an email to The Durango Herald.

A spokeswoman for Centura Health did not respond to a request for comment.

The urgent care center at Purgatory Resort sits closed Thursday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
A sign on the door of Mercy Hospital’s Urgent Care at Purgatory Resort on Thursday says the facility is closed for the summer, but a ski resort official and EMS chief with Durango Fire Protection District say the clinic, operated by Centura Health, is closing permanently. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Mercy Urgent Care was staffed by nurse practitioners and emergency room nurses, with the support of emergency physicians at Mercy Hospital, according to Purgatory’s website. It offered digital X-rays and limited laboratory services.

Rathbun declined to release data about how often the clinic gets used and for what types of injuries or medical emergencies.

Scott Sholes, EMS chief at Durango Fire Protection District, said the clinic’s closure could put a strain on EMS crews. DFPD has already begun discussing how to prepare for an influx of calls this winter.

“I’m very disappointed with this decision,” Sholes said. “It looks like there’s no plan to reopen, which certainly has the potential effect of increasing ambulance call volumes.”

Purgatory is about as far north as Durango EMS services go, so it takes units out of service for longer periods of time, Sholes said. Basic EMS crews also don’t have training in returning dislocated bones to their normal position, and transporting patients long distances with dislocated joints can add to the level of pain people experience, he said.

The urgent care center at Mercy also treated residents from Silverton, which prevented them from having to travel all the way into Durango for certain services, Sholes said.

“That’s a loss of care I don’t think anyone has considered,” he said.

The urgent care at Purgatory Resort sits closed Thursday. Centura Health will no longer operate the urgent care at Purgatory Resort, according to the resort and Durango Fire Protection District. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

On a positive note, Centura Health’s departure from Purgatory Resort gives EMS crews more flexibility in deciding where to take patients once they are transported off the mountain and into Durango, Sholes said.

“We are now able to take orthopedic patients to Animas Surgical Hospital, which is way closer, instead of all the way over to Mercy Hospital because there will be no more provider-to-provider transfer,” he said. “So that’s something.”


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