All too often, residents of Park County and other rural locations around the state have no option but to travel to urban centers such as Colorado Springs or Denver to receive health care.
Slowly but surely, however, the medically underserved residents of Park County continue to see advancements in both general and specialized health care services.
After celebrating the opening of a new primary care facility in Fairplay four months ago, many area residents were also happy to learn that patients in need of chemotherapy or other infusions can now receive that care at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital in Woodland Park.
Even though PPRH is located in Teller County, Park County residents in need of chemotherapy now have another option.
PPRH began offering the new services Dec. 13, and a half-dozen patients are expected to receive treatment there in the coming weeks. It is the first time chemotherapy treatment has been offered at PPRH, which opened in 2007.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for patients, as they do not have to drive to Colorado Springs,” said Tricia Sichmeller, pharmacy manager at PPRH. “It’s a huge service for our patients, and it definitely supports the UCHealth mission of improving lives.”
Sichmeller has worked at the hospital since it opened, and said being able to receive treatment close to home is especially important in cancer care, where therapies can sometimes take hours.
UCHealth began operating PPRH in 2018, and began expanding services in at the 15-bed facility. UCHealth is a nonprofit health system that delivers quality medical care with more than 24,000 employees and 12 acute-care, full-service hospitals.
“I am thrilled to see the expansion of services in Teller County,” said Joel Yuhas. “These community investments that UCHealth is making are life-changing for many people who find the commute to Colorado Springs challenging, particularly for cancer treatment.”
The outpatient infusion clinic is one of many service expansions at the PPRH campus. The UCHealth Specialty Care Clinic in Woodland Park now offers women’s health services, ear, nose and throat specialists, general surgery and orthopedics.
In all, 13 new specialists provide care at the clinic with more planned in 2020.
Like Park County, many residents in neighboring Teller County often have to travel to distant locations to receive even the most basic medical care.
The first person to receive chemotherapy treatment at PPRH was Mary Scott, who resides in Divide. Until now, her husband was driving her to UCHealth Memorial Central in Colorado Springs.
“When I heard they were going to open this clinic, I was so excited,” Scott said. “Having to pass one hospital to go to another one to get treatment, I looked at Pikes Peak Regional Hospital every time I passed it on our way to Colorado Springs. This is just a blessing and a godsend.”