Letter: Cut off by Aspen Valley Hospital

Approximately 20 years ago, B.J. Williams spearheaded a program in which physical therapists in the Roaring Fork Valley collaborated and joined the orthopedic doctors on their clinical rounds. This has been a service offered by the physical therapists to complement patient care by brace fitting, instructions in stretching, basic home exercises, improve doctor/therapist communications, be advocates for the patients, and improve overall patient care and rehabilitation. This elevated care offered to the patients is on a volunteer basis and is complimentary to the patients and the orthopedic doctors. Shortly after the program started, the majority of physical therapists from local private practices, as well as the hospital, wanted to be involved. The time slots of each orthopedic doctors were divided up and allotted to any of the PTs that wished to participate. This has been a very successful program, providing tremendous benefits to the patients, until recently.

In separate situations, two long-time local physical therapists (one from Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute, the second from Aspen Sports Medicine) were informed by the Aspen Valley Hospital management that they were “no longer needed at the clinic” and to “please leave the premises.”

It was expressed that the hospital now wanted to staff all of the clinical rounds with only their physical therapists, and anyone not employed by the hospital was no longer welcome to participate in the clinics.

There is a reciprocating and mutually beneficial relationship between the orthopedic doctors and physical therapists in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Not only do the physical therapists benefit from the doctor’s referrals but the doctors also receive referrals from all of the local PTs. The most important factor being the elevated, personal patient care.

Previous to this recent incident at AVH, it has been the decision of the patient to select their own physical therapist, or group of therapists, based on: experience, expertise, location, reputation, previous relationship or personal preference. It seems that Aspen Valley Hospital is now attempting to restrict this freedom to choose one’s own physical therapy care, and in doing so, no longer has the patient’s best interest in mind.

Aspen Sports Medicine and the Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute