Denver Health takes over Winter Park’s 7 Mile Clinic |

Denver Health takes over Winter Park’s 7 Mile Clinic

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Denver Health's main metro area facility impressed Winter Park Resort officials.

WINTER PARK – The medical clinic that provides urgent care at Winter Park Resort is changing hands and expanding its mission.

Denver Health, which runs the nation’s premier trauma center, will re-open the facility in West Portal Station on June 12 under the name Denver Health East Grand Clinic.

The new clinic will offer medical services to resort employees, guests, skiers and tourists as well as year-round family health care to the entire community.

The Winter Park First Aid Clinic was originally leased by Dr. Andy Arnold, who ran it for years as a private practice. He retired a decade ago and the ski area transferred the lease to Centura Health. Centura had operated 7 Mile Clinic during peak seasons for the last decade, expanding the role of the clinic as an urgent care provider in the community.

When that lease expired recently, Winter Park Resort President and Chief Operating Officer Gary DeFrange decided to explore alternatives.

“We did some research and got to know Denver Health,” he said. “What impressed us was their very long term staff and how they brought that entire company up from what it was 15 years ago. They’re strong in family practice and they take care of employees, families and people in community. … We felt, at this point, that Denver Health was a better fit for us.”

Denver Health Medical Center houses the Rocky Mountain Regional Trauma Center, the region’s academic Level 1 Trauma Center, certified for both children and adults. In 2008, the RMRTC was recognized by American College of Surgeons as the best trauma center in the United States, based on survival rates. Denver Health also runs the trauma and surgical units at Vail Valley Medical Center.

Denver Health Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Thomas said her company was attracted to Winter Park because of the hospital’s mission to provide emergency services to the entire Rocky Mountain region, not just Denver.

“We treat injured patients from all over state, and we bring a lot of experience not only in emergency care but in community health. Our hospital is only a third of our operations. Community-based care is also something we do well.”

Initially, patients won’t notice much change when Denver Health reopens the clinic next week. For people who previously used 7 Mile Clinic, all staff, physicians, nurses and doctors will remain the same. Denver Health will continue to offer family care, urgent care, emergency services and an around-the-clock advice line staffed by nurses.

They will also provide consultations with specialties as needed and will offer a network with Denver radiologists that allows X-ray images to be transferred and read from remote sites.

DeFrange was particularly impressed by his tour of the Denver Health Medical Center last week, he said.

“This is big for the county. It’s one of these things you don’t think about until you need it,” DeFrange said.

Thomas added that Denver Health will work closely with the doctors already established here to help them do what they do better, to find out what services they have and what they need.

What excites DeFrange most, he said, is the possibilities for growth and expansion of the services provided in Grand County through this partnership with Denver Health.

“I have felt for long time that we need to look at our future,” he said. “Denver Health’s experience will be helpful as we do that. I want to get a group of people together to talk about where we are today in health care in our county, where we need to be and how we are going to get there. I’m interested in the whole arena of community health and what kinds of things we should be doing to improve overall health care.”

DeFrange named some of the biggest health care gaps in the county, starting with the lack of a Level 1 trauma hospital.

“People with any major injury or a serious heart attack have to go somewhere else,” he said. “That’s why our connection (with a trauma center) needs to be just as good as it can be. We are never going to have a large hospital here, so we have to find ways to access the best medical care we can and to better understand what can be handled locally and what can’t.”

DeFrange added that the medical centers in the county don’t deliver babies, forcing laboring women to drive over the mountain in the middle of winter; there is no place for people with cancer to have their chemotherapy treatments in the county; and, until recently, there wasn’t even a CT scan in the county.

“We are looking forward to sitting down with Gary and the local leadership to take look at the needs in the community,” Thomas said.

Centura Health, which still runs Granby Medical Center, did not return a call for comment. Earlier this week, Centura issued certified letters to all its patients in Grand County referring them to other physicians in the area and offering to transfer medical records for those patients ithat do wish to switch providers.

– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or

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