Aspen Valley Hospital begins contract negotiations with Surgical Specialists of Colorado |

Aspen Valley Hospital begins contract negotiations with Surgical Specialists of Colorado

Les Fraser

Aspen Valley Hospital is beginning contract negotiations with the two physicians it hired last year as part of a restructuring of the facility’s surgical operations.

Hospital CEO Dan Bonk apprised the board of directors at its monthly meeting Feb. 16 about the talks with Surgical Specialists of Colorado.

Bonk said the hospital is required to have the new contract in place by March 3, 120 days before the existing one-year deal expires.

“One of the things we do with every contract we have at the hospital — be it radiology, pathology, anesthesiology, the emergency department or surgery — we do an extensive review,” Bonk said Thursday. “We go to their peers, their staff. We talk to the frontline people.”

Bonk said the two surgeons, Les Fraser and Joe Livengood, have received “all very positive” remarks from the hospital staff.

“But we want to try to do better, getting them downvalley and doing the things that the surgeons at Valley View Hospital don’t do,” Bonk said.

Fraser’s expertise is in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. He also has experience with breast and small- and large-bowels cancers. Livengood is the hospital’s trauma medical director. He worked for 13 years as an acute-care surgeon at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, which are part of the University of Colorado health system.

“We need to promote them more,” Bonk said. “They’re outstanding guys, but they’re unknown. They’re doing very well volumewise and procedurewise.”

Fraser and Livengood joined the hospital’s general surgery and trauma medical staffs in August and July, respectively, after the hospital signed a one-year deal with Surgical Specialists of Colorado.

The hirings came after the hospital terminated Dr. Bill Rodman’s exclusive-provider contract in December 2013.

Rodman currently is on leave. He could possibly return to the hospital in July as a private surgeon.

“He has a few weeks to apply,” Bonk said. “We’ve sent him all the paperwork.”

Dr. Christopher Beck, president of the hospital’s medical staff, told board members that staffers hold the two new surgeons in high regard.

“Everyone thought their communication skills are excellent and they’re excellent team players in the operating room,” Beck said. “Their clinical skills were roundly applauded and complimented, and people thought they were outstanding.”

Two nurses echoed that sentiment.

“The feedback from the relationships between surgeons has been wonderful,” Tim Gay, director of the hospital’s perioperative services, told the board. “There’s no surprises within the cases, the cases have gone smoothly even with the first days they were here. … The staff feels very empowered to say what they need to say … and never worry about retaliation or anything.”

“They’re more than willing to educate the staff before the procedures and make it a calm atmosphere in the operating room,” said nurse Cathleen Haggerty. “They educate; they preplan. Our staff loves to work with them.

“We have huge confidence in them. Huge.”

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