Orthopedic care makes a big leap in the Roaring Fork Valley | AspenTimes.com

Orthopedic care makes a big leap in the Roaring Fork Valley

65,000-square-foot Steadman Clinic opens in Basalt

People tour the new Steadman Clinic in Willits during the grand opening event of the orthopedic care facility on Thursday, April 14, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

A skier with a nasty leg injury became the first patient to undergo surgery at the new Steadman Clinic in Basalt on Wednesday — ushering in a new era at the state-of-the-art orthopaedic care and recovery facility.

The four partners who teamed to open the 65,000-square-foot clinic in Willits Town Center — Steadman Clinic/Steadman Philippon Research Institute, Orthopedic Care Partners, Aspen Valley Hospital and Vail Health — had a grand opening Thursday attended by a couple hundred people, complete with speeches and tours for invited members of the public.

“OK, Roaring Fork Valley, how cool is this?” asked Dave Ressler, CEO of Aspen Valley Hospital. “This is finally bringing to our valley what the valley has always wanted.”

The three-story facility opened about 16½ months after the partners arrived at a plan to provide access in a new facility to the highest level of musculoskeletal care. The groundbreaking was in November 2020.

Various speakers marveled at how major medical entities in the Roaring Fork and Eagle valleys came together on the project.

“I know it’s unusual for Aspen and Vail to be cooperating on anything,” quipped Vail Health CEO Will Cook.

The Steadman Clinic is officially opened having had their first surgery the day before the grand opening event on Thursday, April 14, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The Steadman Clinic will continue to offer services at its AVH office as well, but the new clinic in Willits is designed for high-volume, in-patient care.

The second floor is dominated by the ambulatory surgery center with four operating rooms and two additional ones roughed in for future growth. The 37,000 square feet on the second floor includes nine pre-op and post-op rooms and 14 recovery rooms.

While Thursday’s tour didn’t include entry into operating rooms, a sharp image on a screen outside one of the rooms showed the space filled with high-tech equipment and stainless steel walls that can be easily cleaned and sterilized.

“It’s the poster child for the operating rooms of the future,” said Michael Westmiller of Vail Health.

The Steadman Clinic’s doctors offices and 16 exam rooms will be located on the third floor along with a 12,000-pound, 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine that will save time assessing patients’ issues.

Also on the third floor, the Steadman Philippon Research Institute laboratory will perform regenerative medicine research and enroll willing patients in clinical trials. One focus of the research will be on healthy aging.

The final tenant of the third floor is Howard Head Sports Medicine, with space for its physical therapy, occupational therapy and hand services.

The Steadman Clinic and Orthopedic Care Partners announced a strategic partnership with Aspen Valley Hospital in September 2020. As part of the partnership, existing physicians from AVH were joined by newly recruited physicians as part of the expansion of Steadman’s services. In addition, physicians from the Steadman Clinic in Vail rotate to Aspen.

AVH’s Ressler said there is proven demand for care for people who suffer sports injuries — skiing, biking, climbing and the like — as well as maintenance for an aging population of residents and visitors who are experiencing various ailments. Officials previously said they see the new clinic attracting patients regionally, national and even internationally. Basalt Mayor Bill Kane recently said he expects the clinic to be an economic boon to shops and restaurants in Willits.

Nobody is happier to see the facility open than Aspen resident Aaron Fleck, who attended Thursday’s ceremony and said he started lobbying the Steadman Clinic to open a facility in the Roaring Fork Valley in 1995.

The Basalt structure was developed by Remedy Medical Properties, designed by the architecture firm Boulder Associates and construction was overseen by general contractor Haselden Construction.

The three-story facility features a lot of windows to provide views of the surrounding mountains and let in natural light. Architectural features on the interior include rock walls and materials evoking basalt. Stunning, blown-up outdoor photos by Roaring Fork Valley adventurer Ann Driggers adorn many of the walls.

Now that the celebration is over, it’s down to business at the clinic. The second surgery at the clinic is scheduled for Friday.

“Our goal has always been to give people a way to stay active longer by receiving the best orthopaedic care,” said Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of the Steadman Clinic and Steadman/Philippon research Institute. “Now, patients in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley will have the convenience of a local sports medicine center.”