Letter: Aspen Valley Hospital decision made with care
The Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors and administration have invested significant time, energy and resources to ensure that the best possible surgical care is available to residents and visitors of this community, any time of day or night, any day of the year. In addition to countless hours spent in discussion with our current surgeon, Dr. Bill Rodman, we have received feedback from hospital staff and physicians as well as community members in person, by letter and at public board meetings.
We have never questioned Rodman’s concern for and dedication to his patients. But the decisions we make as an elected volunteer board have one purpose only — providing the best possible patient care. As difficult as this process has been, we have held true to that goal and the mission of the hospital.
Clearly there were problems with the previous contractual arrangement between Rodman and the hospital, including the understaffing of our surgical service following Rodman’s firing of Dr. John Schultz (requiring the hospital to retain and pay for locum tenens surgeons), and issues with Rodman’s leadership of the trauma program. As we examined these and other matters, it was evident that a group model would net significant benefits to the hospital and its patients. After considering four other groups, Surgical Specialists of Colorado was selected.
The decision to contract with Surgical Specialists of Colorado for surgery services will positively impact the community in the following ways:
There will be no exclusivity — two surgeons from Surgical Specialists of Colorado will live and work full time in Aspen, along with Rodman.
Those who have an established relationship with Rodman can continue to see him. Those who would prefer to see another physician will have additional options.
Temporary (locum tenens) surgeons will be eliminated from the call rotation. 24/7 coverage will be provided by local surgeons.
Evidence-based, best-practice surgical care will be augmented.
The highest standards of clinical practice, with a robust peer-review program will be in place.
There will be connectivity to sub-specialists within the Surgical Specialists of Colorado group.
A broader range of capabilities and skills than ever before will be available.
While we had hoped Rodman would join the Surgical Specialists of Colorado practice, we respected his personal decision to decline their offer. By the same token, we respect that when he changed his mind about joining the Surgical Specialists of Colorado group (after characterizing them and their contract offer in a negative light), we respected their decision to decline.
Regarding cross-coverage, we want to assure the community that emergency care will always be provided, no matter whom the patient has received care from in the past. We have been assured by Surgical Specialists of Colorado that they will never turn their back on a patient in need, and one of their doctors will always be available. Routine care will be covered by individual surgical practices — just as it is for every other medical specialty in the community.
It also is important to note that there will not be a negative financial impact to the hospital with this arrangement. Money currently spent on locum tenens coverage (162 days since the termination of Schultz’s employment by Rodman) will not be needed under the Surgical Specialists of Colorado contract.
In conclusion, while we will probably never satisfy everyone’s needs for “transparency” or “process,” our commitment to extraordinary patient care is second to none. We ask that you understand that contract negotiations are confidential, as are personnel matters.
We are excited about the Surgical Specialists of Colorado surgeons we have met to date. The interview process continues, and we look forward to introducing two new surgeons to the community in the near future.
Dr. Barry Mink
Dr. Mindy Nagle
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Sean Beckwith is taking advantage of his column space this week to inform the public of the Best in Jest.