Aspen Orthopaedic Associates shutting down
October 29, 2015
Aspen Orthopaedic Associates is shutting down Dec. 31 after a 58-year run, officials confirmed Thursday.
The closure is the outcome of negotiations the medical group had with Aspen Valley Hospital starting in January.
It will end an era of Aspen health care that began in 1957 when Dr. Robert Oden founded the orthopedics group, making it the Western Slope's first clinic of its kind.
It once had 60 employees from Aspen to Rifle, with a stable of patients treated for injuries ranging from torn ACLs to broken arms. Treating sports injuries was its chief emphasis, in large part because of Aspen's active and athletic community.
But the medical group's business model began to flounder earlier this year after physicians left for other medical facilities, such as Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
That led to talks between Aspen Valley Hospital and Orthopaedic Associates that began in January. By spring, the medical group's stability was in question.
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"In April, their group (Aspen Orthopaedic Associates) started disintegrating," said Aspen Valley Hospital CEO Dan Bonk. "Valley View Hospital started hiring a certain number of their doctors, and that left an undeniable financial burden on the other doctors because of their business structure. And they came to us and wanted to talk about employment."
One of the clinic's doctors joined the Aspen hospital in July, two have been hired to start work Jan. 1 and one is in employment discussions.
Aspen Valley Hospital, however, is not acquiring Orthopaedic Associates, Bonk said.
"We are not buying their practice. We are hiring individual physicians and complimentary staff nurses to help support those doctors," he said.
Other Orthopaedic Associates staff will be allowed to reapply for employment at Aspen Valley Hospital after it determines its staffing needs, the hospital said.
Messages left with Tim Burns, who is serving as an interim consultant in charge of Orthopaedic Associates, were not returned Wednesday and Thursday.
George Trantow, who was the executive director of Orthopaedic Associates before leaving in July to work at Valley View Hospital, also didn't return calls.
The Aspen hospital's fact sheet about the development, provided to The Aspen Times, details the movement among the physicians at Orthopaedic Associates.
According to the fact sheet, Dr. Ann Golden, a hand surgeon, joined the Aspen hospital in July, and Drs. Tom Pevny and Leelee von Stade — both specialists in sports medicine, trauma and total joint replacement — reached a deal with the hospital earlier this month to join its staff at the beginning of 2016.
Dr. Lindsay Harris, whose focus is in sports medicine, trauma and hip replacement, declined an offer from the Aspen hospital.
In 2012, Orthopaedic Associates moved from its Main Street offices to the hospital. The clinic had been located on Main Street for 55 years.
The hired physicians will continue their practices at Orthopaedic Associates' 6,800-square-foot space at Aspen Valley Hospital. But the Aspen Orthopaedic Associates name will no longer be associated with the office.
"They become our employees as of Jan. 1," said Ginny Dyche, director of Community Relations at the Aspen hospital. "They will continue to see patients in the existing space they lease from the hospital."
Dyche said a number of details come with the transition. With the Orthopaedic Associates name gone, she said branding the new arrangement in conjunction with the hospital is a priority. Other issues to flesh out are billing, medical records, equipment, practice management and marketing, the hospital said.
Outside physicians are being contacted as well for employment at the hospital.
Patients of Orthopaedic Associates will see a smooth transition under the hospital's care, officials said.
"I think it's good for the patients because we're going to take the best out of what a physician can offer and the best out of what the hospital can offer and create a team that will continue to improve patient care and patient safety satisfaction," said Dr. Eric Stahl, chief medical officer at Aspen Valley Hospital. "It becomes a much more seamless delivery of care when there's one entity that's in charge."