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Forty years after Summit County's sole hospital closed its doors, residents of the fast-growing area might be getting a new one - and then some.

Three Rivers of Utah, a subsidiary of a Wyoming startup company called Three Rivers Investment, has applied for a permit to build a two-story hospital just east of Jeremy Ranch Elementary School.Meantime, two Salt Lake City-based medical-care providers - Intermountain Health Care and University Hospitals and Clinics - are planning nearby clinics.

Local services are limited now to a pair of small outpatient clinics in Park City and one each in Kamas, about 15 miles away, and Coalville, more than 20 miles distant.

Three Rivers hopes to break ground by September and open its facility by late 1996 or early 1997, according to Suzanne Brennan, president of Three Rivers of Utah. Following a national trend, the hospital would cater largely to outpatients but be equipped for overnight care and trauma response.

The site is a 20-acre plot of ground on the north side of I-80. The project would include a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot doctors-office complex and a separate 30,000-square-foot professional-office building.

Brennan said the county's planning commission in the next six to eight weeks will determine whether the area can be rezoned from "nondesignated" to "commercial service."

Ultimately, however, the County Commission has the final say. Early indications are there is support among its three members for the hospital, which would encompass 80,000 square feet.

"I think it's way overdue," said Commissioner Tom Flinders.

"They seem favorable at this point," added Brennan, a Catholic sister who in the early 1980s conducted a market study for Salt Lake City's former Holy Cross Hospital on whether the Snyderville Basin was ready for such services.

She concluded the time wasn't right.

But today a health-care market clearly exists in the area, which last hosted a hospital in the mid-1950s, when the Park City Miners Hospital closed its doors for lack of business.

Summit County's population has grown by almost a quarter since 1990 to 20,000 people, most of it occurring in Park City and the adjacent Snyderville Basin, which includes Jeremy Ranch and surrounding developments. Planners expect the trend to continue.

"There's a lot of new people up there who need access to health care," said John Dwan, a spokesman for University Hospitals and Clinics, explaining why the University of Utah-affiliated group recently began construction on a 15,000-square-foot outpatient clinic at the base of Wolf Mountain Ski Resort on U-224.

Dwan said the clinic is supposed to open in November, offering a broad range of services.

"It'll be staffed by pediatricians, internists, obstetricians . . . "

Similarly, IHC, the largest provider of managed-care services in Utah, is petitioning the county planning department to build a 15,000-square-foot clinic in the vicinity of Silver Springs, a subdivision north of I-80 at Kimball Junction.

Daron Cowley, an IHC spokesman, said the clinic will offer basic outpatient services including X-rays and lab work. Cowley said IHC's timetable depends on how fast the county moves.

Brennan said the Three Rivers project originally was planned to occur in three stages - doctors offices, hospital, professional-office building.

"But that last phase may move forward more rapidly," said Brennan, who noted an acute shortage in Summit County of such accommodations.