Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — One of Utah's largest health systems, MountainStar Healthcare, announced Thursday that it is adding more Utah facilities to its network, working toward a goal to bring affordable care to more families in Utah.
Greg Angle, president at MountainStar Healthcare, said the health care system is committed to investing in Utah and providing high-quality health care at a good value.
The company, which is part of the massive international network owned by HCA Healthcare, currently has eight hospitals in Utah between Logan and Payson, and multiple urgent care and emergency room locations.
"We're adding access points, improving continuity of care and bringing the knowledge and best practices from HCA Healthcare's 35 million annual patient interactions to the communities we live in and love," Angle said.
The initiative to expand MountainStar's options in Utah include:
- A new emergency room in Syracuse, which will be MountainStar's 14th in the state, following two added in October in Herriman and Lehi.
- Operating room expansions at the Brigham City Community Hospital in Box Elder County and the Mountain View Hospital in Payson.
- Two urgent care centers in West Point and American Fork, which makes nine "CareNow" centers added in the last two years.
- Two Envision Imaging locations have been added to facilities in Draper and Bountiful.
- Expansions already announced at St. Mark's Hospital and Lone Peak Hospital are moving toward completion.
- Two HCA Healthcare Centers for Clinical Advancement, in Ogden and Draper, will help train nurses and clinicians in Utah.
"What we're most excited about is not any one investment but the combination and the comprehensive nature of what we've been able to do over the last several years by adding to our network. So it's really the culmination of a lot of work, some major investment and a commitment to the growing demand for health care services in Utah," Angle said.
Angle said they are fortunate so many people in Utah are coming to them for care. He said continuing to meet with a primary care provider can help people stay healthy, and have resources to help them find appropriate care when it is needed.
"We want folks to actively engage in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, certainly, and to stay connected to our network, stay connected to the health system," Angle said.
He said the system recognizes the population in Utah is increasing, not just in Salt Lake County but all along the Wasatch Front, and the increasing density can make it harder for families to find the health care they need. In response, MountainStar is trying to bring health care closer to where families live.
Angle said having an emergency room nearby can be crucial, as patients fare better when the time it takes to drive to an emergency room is reduced.
"By saving time, we save lives — we improve outcomes," Angle said.
He said nearby emergency rooms can also be more cost-effective for a patient who doesn't necessarily need a hospital. A more local clinic can provide the care they need while being more affordable and accessible.
Dr. Filip Roos, chief medical officer at MountainStar Healthcare, said in a statement that sometimes every second matters, and having an emergency room close by can make a big difference.
"Having these freestanding emergency centers in communities throughout northern Utah enables us to better serve families that otherwise would have to travel farther for that type of care," Roos said.
He said the hospital upgrade, bringing the latest surgical technology to community hospitals, can accelerate recovery times and improve outcomes.
"By upgrading our capabilities at the north and south ends of the Wasatch Front, we're ensuring that more Utahns are close to the cutting-edge technology and high-quality care we're known for," Roos said.
MountainStar is expanding during a time when there is a shortage of health care workers, which can be a challenge. Angle said they are taking steps to address the large vacancy and turnover rates in health care workers — focusing on retention, by creating an environment where staff members are satisfied through listening to what nurses, doctors and staff members need to keep energy and enthusiasm.
Jen Wagenaar, MountainStar's chief nursing executive, said these centers are coming at a time when there is a high need to train clinicians.
"We've been working with leaders here in Utah to bring more passionate people into a career path as caregivers. This is our way of showing up to help nurture the pipeline of future nurses and technicians in the Mountain West," she said.
Wagenaar said the centers will have realistic simulation equipment and will provide an authentic learning experience.
Angle said nursing schools cannot produce enough people to fill the positions so they are working to increase the availability of training and program access.
"It's not just having the right geography and making certain that we have we have the bricks and mortar, but it's about making sure we have the people in the right places in Utah so that people know that health care is accessible to them, and that it's cost-effective," Angle said.
Unlike many health care systems in the U.S., he said, MountainStar and its parent company HCA Healthcare pay taxes as a for-profit health care system. He said they are a "good corporate citizen" and support other needs in the state in addition to providing jobs to many Utahns.
"We continue to take care of anyone who would require our services, and provided more than $30 million in uncompensated care last year," Angle said. "So we're proud of the community benefit and our continued investment in Utah."