‘Fiery’ new Emergicare on Westside
The 15,000-acre Mason Gulch fire swept through the Wet Mountain Valley in July 2005 and came within 50 yards of Dr. Robert Hamilton's home.
Hamilton has to admit that at the time he was not thinking ahead several weeks, when he would start rounding up fire-charred trees and cutting and stripping them into logs that would help add a unique Southwestern architectural style to the Westside's new Emergicare.
“I sure wasn't,” said the founder and CEO of the Colorado Springs-Pueblo chain of urgent-care facilities. “All we were thinking was, 'Are we going to lose everything?' And how were we going to handle it from an emotional, spiritual and economic standpoint?”
But after the fire died and he had time to assess the situation, the plan started taking shape. “We had a bunch of logs that we'd been collecting for the building,” he said. “But we found out they weren't enough.” Knowing that he had to cut down some 300 of his damaged trees anyway, largely because of the danger of their falling, he started realizing that the fire had created in its wake a source of “some pretty good logs.”
The result can be seen now inside and outside the new Emergicare at 402 W. Bijou St., which opened last week after about a year of construction/renovation. The privately owned urgent-care facility for walk-in patients is open initially Monday through Friday, but should be up to a daily schedule by summer, according to Hamilton.
With medical doctors available at all times, Emergicare treats any kind of medical issue, particularly specializing in injured workers. “I feel like we're meeting a huge need in the community,” Hamilton said in a recent interview. “We're providing help for the downtown and also meeting the needs of the Westside.”
The 10,000-square-foot facility is not just the fifth Emergicare (four in Colorado Springs, one in Pueblo); it also houses the company's corporate offices, including Hamilton's.
His influence can be felt in the style as well as materials of the building. The outer design, featuring juniper logs on three sides, is amplified inside by broad ponderosa pine logs separated by thousands of “latillas” - thinner cross-pieces from various trees - across the ceilings. Elsewhere are logs used as posts, 300-year-old barn wood on door frames and the occasional iron gate. Hamilton was aided in this effort by Joan Harrell, an Emergicare administrator who has helped him in other building restorations.
Hamilton noted that the service goal has not changed from 1981, when he started Emergicare, based on a concept of convenient, all-in-one-place care that he fostered from his days as a hospital emergency room doctor.
“The idea is when people walk in, they are processed very quickly and are always seen by a medical doctor,” he said.
Other business highlights include a pharmacy for patients, two women doctors, no narcotics on site and Emergicare's own follow-up on its patients, he added.
Costing roughly $1 million, the two-story building was technically an expansion of the space formerly used by a one-story plasma clinic at that location. The first floor's 7,000 square feet is earmarked for patient treatment, while the 3,000-square-foot second floor contains offices and a conference room that is also available to community groups that Emergicare works with.
The facility is the largest of the Emergicares. “All of them have some kind of Southwestern motif, but not to this extent,” Hamilton said.
But in the end, it wasn't so much the appearance as the quality of the new building that was important, he pointed out. Hamilton could as easily have been talking about a patient when he said of the new facility, “I want it to last a long time without a lot of repairs.”
Westside Pioneer article