|Many community-spirited individuals have helped shape the history of hospital care in Steamboat Springs. None was more influential than Frederick E. Willett, MD. Dr. Willett became involved with the town’s first public hospital in 1914. The building that housed the hospital from 1914-1921 (pictured left), with Dr. Willett standing in front, is now known as the Old Town Pub.
In 1921 Dr. Willett opened a new hospital in a converted apartment building on 7th and Aspen streets. Twenty-five years later, Dr. Willett and the community saw the need for a new structure and a non-profit community organization to run it.
In August 1946 the Steamboat Springs Hospital Association elected a Board of Directors that selected a site on Park Avenue for the new hospital. Dr. Willett donated his hospital building to the cause, and it was purchased by the school district. The building served as the high school and junior high band room as well as the Seventh Street Playhouse before being torn down in 2005.
After several years of design, construction and fundraising, Routt County Memorial Hospital was dedicated on August 13, 1950. Our Hospital Auxiliary was formed during that decade to help the hospital through some financially difficult years.
The 1960s saw the opening of the Steamboat Ski Area and a corresponding need to increase hospital services. A remodeling added outpatient treatment space in the early 1970s. The sign above the new entrance read: "Ski Injuries Only."
The region's first orthopaedic surgeon joined the medical staff in 1972. This decade brought rapid changes, construction of a major addition and enhanced emergency medical services. The hospital was renamed Routt Memorial to clarify its private, non-tax-supported status. In 1979, the community asked the hospital to take over the adjacent nursing home, which was renamed Routt Memorial Extended Care Center.
GrandKids Child Care Center opened in November 1981, bringing generations closer together and providing a needed community service. It was the first child care center to be located inside a skilled nursing facility in the state of Colorado, and its intergenerational program still serves as a national role model.
By 1992, the need for a larger hospital was obvious. Planning and fundraising began for a new medical center and campus on a centrally located 46-acre site near the Steamboat Ski Area. A generous community donated more than $6 million.
Groundbreaking for Yampa Valley Medical Center was held in February 1998, and the hospital opened on November 21, 1999. Other campus buildings, including a medical office building, the Doak Walker Care Center and GrandKids, were completed in 2000.
In 2009 YVMC celebrated several milestones -- 30 years of providing long-term care, 20 years for SportsMed rehab and therapy services, and "Cheers to 10 Years" for YVMC's presence at the Central Park Drive location. During our first decade on this campus, we have added or enhanced numerous services such as YampaWorks Occupational Health, Joint Replacement Program, Pulmonary Rehab and cardiology diagnostics.
A $13 million expansion, completed in February 2010, doubled the size of our Family Birth Place, created a new Digital Mammography Suite and Minor Procedure Area, and added much-needed space to Surgical Services and other departments.
In 2013, YVMC bid a heartfelt farewell to the Doak Walker Care Center, which relocated to the new Casey's Pond senior living campus, where it has been renamed the Doak Walker House. We maintain an intergenerational connection with regular visits from GrandKids children.
In 2014, the newest addition to services is the Gloria Gossard Breast Health Center. Through a generous donation this state-of-the-art facility provides comprehensive breast health care.
Health care is alive and well in Steamboat Springs, thanks to more than 60 years of stewardship by the non-profit, non-tax-supported organization now known as Yampa Valley Medical Center. In 2014 we will celebrate 100 years of care in the Yampa Valley.