Article Series

Denver’s Emergency Rooms May be Bad for your Health

Article by Karin Hall, CEO - Senior Resource Guide

Denver, Colorado - Could a consumer who has a serious heart incident have additional complications because he/she went to the wrong ER? Who decides where to go? What if an ambulance delivers the consumer to a small satellite emergency room rather than one attached to a full-service hospital that specializes in heart incidents?

Paramedics are trained to make that decision. They evaluate the emergency and take the patient to the nearest “full hospital with an emergency room” that offers the best services for that patient’s specific emergency. If someone has serious burns, they may go to one hospital, while someone else with a heart attack may go to another hospital.

If your emergency is life threatening, it is good to know the paramedics are trained to have your back. But, when was the last time you went to an ER with life threatening conditions? What happens when you slice your hand in the kitchen, run a dangerous fever or break a hip in a fall?

Make a plan right now, and put it on the refrigerator. This proliferation of ER’s will only help you if you choose the right one for the right condition you are facing. There are 46 ER’s in the greater Denver area:


It is not difficult to figure out that this proliferation of Emergency Rooms is about profits and not about health. If something happens to you, knowing where you want to go in advance is good for you.

So why are hospitals building so many free standing or satellite Emergency Rooms in the Denver area?

At the urging of hospital boards (both for-profit and non-profit hospitals), healthcare investors and healthcare marketing strategy companies, local hospitals are being encouraged to customize services “ala carte.” Why? Hospitals make more money by increasing market reach.

If you look at the promotion from these hospitals and satellite emergency room locations, they say they are doing this for the community to have “more and better access to emergency room services.” Why? They say they want to give consumers the convenience of a near-by emergency room; but, actually it is a money grab for healthcare dollars by bringing the hospital closer to your door.

Now let’s pull the curtains back on this proliferation of Emergency Rooms

The above map above shows 31 satellite and micro-hospitals with emergency rooms. Here are some of the dollar details:

  • 6 micro-hospitals with emergency rooms are estimated to cost $30 million each to build as per Advisory Board = There are 6 in the Denver area and that equals $180 million
  • 25 satellite Emergency Rooms are estimated to cost $10 million each to build, totaling $250 million
  • Property footprint for 31 emergency rooms and micro-hospitals with emergency room – one parcel in Littleton the land sold for $1 million – so 31 locations at $1 million each equals $31 million dollars = $31 million. (A land lease would reduce this from a capital cost to an operational cost)

That is $461 million dollars invested in brick and mortar satellite and micro-hospital emergency rooms serving only 6 counties in the Denver metro area. And, for the other 58 counties in the state? Legislators are looking at cutting support for rural Colorado hospitals in the budget under consideration right now at the Capitol.

A two hour ER drive for a broken leg in one part of the state, or a choice of three ER’s right down the block in another.

Find your Colorado Legislator – CLICK HERE
“Denver’s Emergency Rooms May be Bad for your Health” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

For permissions beyond the scope of this license contact

Posted April 2017 on