Talks underway between Aspen Valley Hospital, Aspen Orthopaedics
March 12, 2015
The future of Aspen Orthopaedics Associates appears to be in the air as it negotiates with Aspen Valley Hospital about a possible restructuring, officials confirmed.
Hospital CEO Dan Bonk said talks have been ongoing for about six weeks, including some in executive sessions with the hospital board.
"We don't have anything signed," Bonk said. "They came to us to talk about this, but I think there are a lot of reasons to do this on both sides."
Physicians at Aspen Orthopaedics did not return phone messages seeking comment, but both Bonk and Dr. Barry Mink, who sits on the hospital's board of directors, said one potential outcome of the discussions is that the hospital hires the physicians.
"There's no forcing them to do this, no forcing us to do this," Mink said. "It's something worthwhile to improve our care."
Bonk said the possible arrangement would give physicians at Aspen Orthopaedics more resources to do their jobs.
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"This helps the doctors in some ways get to do what they want," he said. "It would let them become more independent and get away from the business part they don't like."
Bonk said the hospital is "looking at hiring individual physicians" from Aspen Orthopaedics.
"We hope to come to a resolution pretty soon," he said. "We're still talking and trying to figure out the best way to do it without making anything chaotic."
Some of the doctors at Aspen Orthopaedics, which has offices in Aspen, Basalt, Glenwood Springs and Rifle, have taken flight to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood. Valley View is one of the Aspen hospital's chief competitors.
"Valley View has begun to hire orthopedic surgeons, which might be the impetus to this," Bonk said.
Aspen Orthopaedics moved its longtime Aspen clinic, which had been on Main Street for 55 years, to Aspen Valley Hospital in 2012.
Aspen Orthopaedics has been operating under a so-called service-line agreement with the hospital. But Bonk said it "just didn't seem to be the best model."
Hiring the physicians, Bonk explained, "would allow them to become more inside leaders of the organization. I really think that's where medicine is going."