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Community Hospital’s $1M investment in our future healthcare workforce

Community Hospital in Grand Junction made its single largest donation in the organization’s history — $1 million — to Colorado Mesa University for construction of the university’s new medical education center. As part of the Colorado West Healthcare System, Community Hospital is a Level III Trauma Center that offers full outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient care for the Western Slope region of Colorado and eastern Utah.  Community Hospital brings together expert staff and world-class technology to provide personalized care in treating the whole person.

The new center, set to open in spring 2022, is a focal point not only for the university, but also for western Colorado and its burgeoning healthcare industry. For Community Hospital in particular, the new medical education center is a key element in its plans for the future.

“We see it as an investment, not a donation,” said Community Hospital President and CEO Chris Thomas. “Our contribution to help support the new physician assistant/physical therapy/occupational therapy program is an investment in the education of individuals looking to go into the healthcare field. Western Colorado has a growing need for healthcare professionals and Community Hospital is proud to be a part of 
this endeavor.” 

Maverick Field was renamed Community Hospital Unity Field in recognition of Community Hospital’s investment and longstanding relationship with Colorado Mesa University.

Healthcare professionals frequently stay in communities where their education and clinical training was supplied.  CMU’s PA/PT/OT programs are designed to do just that. A workforce needs assessment was conducted in collaboration with staff from CMU’s Office of Institutional Research to survey 206 medical clinics, hospital systems and providers in western Colorado of which Community Hospital was one of them.  Of the respondents, 60.8% ranked the need as moderate to high for new PA graduates.

These new programs at CMU are important enough that Community Hospital chose to invest in such a profound way, Thomas said, acknowledging the advancement of these programs is key in fostering efficient patient care in our community.

These specialties are invaluable to healthcare organizations, particularly in smaller rural communities. Physician assistants work in every state in the nation and often serve as a patient’s primary medical care provider. 
“They can help our physicians’ practice at the top of their license and be so much more efficient,” Thomas said.

Physical therapists and occupational therapists also provide vital support by working alongside physicians to provide the best patient care possible in a comfortable, healing environment. CMU is expecting strong enrollment and graduation rates for the new PA/PT/OT programs and Community Hospital is honored to be a part of this initiative.