Moffat County health care officials repond to questions about physician retention

Health care officials repond to questions about physician retention



George Rohrich

Patients share intimate details with them, revealing things they would sometimes rather not while developing deep trusting relationships, the kind that are extremely hard to replicate.

In recent months some Moffat County residents have voiced concerns about physician retention in the area, saying the sudden exit of trusted doctors leaves residents without a person they can trust when it comes to their medical well-being.

Craig resident and Craig Daily Press contributor Al Cashion voiced his concern about the rate physicians are leaving earlier this month at a hospital board of trustees meeting. He asked the board why staff was leaving a new hospital, and said perception is playing a major part in how the community views the situation.

“Perception is everything, whether it’s true or not, and the community is getting turmoil and discontent that is causing these people to leave," Cashion said. "It seems to be a rather common concern for the community."

CEO George Rohrich, of The Memorial Hospital in Craig, responded by saying, as with any profession, it's reasonable to expect some turnover.

“Why we expect physicians, just because they’re in this profession, to commit to stay for life doesn’t make sense," Rohrich said. "We don’t ask other young professionals coming to the area to commit for life. We have to expect some turnover, not that people will come here and stay forever. Recruiting and keeping young professionals is a challenge."

Whether it is or isn’t a fair expectation, Craig certainly isn't alone in its struggle to retain doctors.

Mike Mullins, vice president of Quorum Health Resources, TMH's management company, said he works with five other community hospitals facing the same problem and said there needs to be a community effort to help it.

“It’s about to close a couple hospitals that I work with, as they are struggling to fill holes,” Mullins said.

In addition TMH, which up until recently had a HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) designation from the federal government, now faces dealing with the loss of the designation responsible for bringing doctors to the area three years ago.

To receive designation, the number of doctors in the community, the community’s finances, the number of people in the community and their type of lifestyles are considered.

In 2006, Craig qualified and received designation, but recently lost it when doctors in Hayden and others from Steamboat who went to Hayden were considered part of the community, making the number of available providers too many to qualify.

The hospital was able to hire the National Health Scholar Corp to recruit doctors because of the designation, said Amy Updike, medical staff coordinator for the hospital.

The program worked by offering loan deferments and forgiveness to physicians who went to school then served time in a low income or shortage area. Updike said Dr. K.C. Keating was hired under the program.

But voicing similar opinions to Rohrich, Updike feels that physician turnover is a natural thing Craig has somehow gotten lucky and managed to avoid for many years.

“Here in Craig we have had the same physicians for many many years," Updike said. "People in this community are not used to doctor turn around. However it is very common they don’t stay in the same place for very long. The younger doctors are part of a newer breed. They come out of residency and think they know what they want, but they don’t.”

Updike said the two doctors the hospital has lost in the past year were two of the younger ones.

She also said signing bonuses and relocation allowances, among other incentives, are being offered to attract candidates. And Updike’s forecast for the future of bringing and keeping doctors in Craig isn’t bleak.

Updike said they have hired two pediatricians in the past year, and are getting some outstanding candidates for specialty positions.

"Primary care is the shortage area. Everyone wants to go into the big money which is the specialty areas," Updike said.

Dr. Pamela Kinder, who specializes in neurology and has been practicing in Craig for 17 years, said physician shortages are definitely to be expected, as everywhere is experiencing shortages.

"It's important to have dialogue with the physicians leaving and find out why, from the board's standpoint because they might not want to share some things with the administrators," Dr. Kinder said.

Dr. Kinder said she has stayed so long because she is attached to her patients and the community.

She also said she likes the hospitalist program in place at the hospital. The hospital contacted a rural hospitalist group a year ago that sends in doctors, primarily trained in internal medicine, for 10 day rotations to cover most of the admissions and relieve the burden of having doctors on call.

"We have to continue the dialogue between current physicians, those leaving, the board and administration to see what steps we need to put in place to recruit and retain physicians," said Dr. Kinder. "It's just going to get more competitive."

Darian can be reached at 875-1793 or


truthhurts 4 years, 7 months ago

"Craig resident and Craig Daily Press contributor Al Cashion voiced his concern about the rate physicians are leaving earlier this month at a hospital board of trustees meeting. He asked the board why staff was leaving a new hospital, and said perception is playing a major part in how the community views the situation."

Al and his perceptions. His perceptions on the fire board, his perceptions on City Council, his perception on the hospital and even his religious perception.

My perception is the community has had enough of Al Cashion and like Al says perception is reality.


MollyPhillips 4 years, 7 months ago

I can assure you that physicians are not leaving TMH because they are young and don’t know what they want. I can also assure you that physicians are not leaving TMH because they don’t like Craig. We liked Craig, and we especially loved all the wonderful people that we were lucky to get to know while we lived there. We miss them dearly.

We left because George Rohrich and Jennifer Riley don’t know how to treat people. The number of people that they have let leave the doors of TMH is absolutely tragic.

If you want to know why people are leaving the place, ask the people who are leaving the place…not the administration that is trying to save their jobs. They don’t deserve those jobs and they don’t deserve Craig.


ronswanson 4 years, 7 months ago

Dr Pense and Dr Rice are a few years out of residency... They must not know what they want either..


Taxpayer 4 years, 7 months ago

I am confident that people asking questions of various boards, City Council, and BOCC help keep decisions a lot more transparent, and hopefully above board. Or perhaps, it might be a good dose of fear that keeps some of these folks honest. I believe that people leave Craig for other employment for a lot of reasons, and will continue to do so in the future. In a community where employment is womb to tomb in some of our higher paying industries, people changing employment after a few years is new to us and will probably be the wave of the future. It is when your Doctor leaves Craig and you must build trust with a new Doctor, and that trust building takes quite a while. Thanks Al Cashion.


truthhurts 4 years, 7 months ago

Taxpayer you have become a professional complainer. Much like the boy who cried "wolf" we need to just ignore you.

It is always easier to tear down than to create.


Taxpayer 4 years, 7 months ago

So Mr. Truthful -- what part isn't truthful - womb to tomb employment, or changing employment? Or seeing problems and be willing to be part of the solution by starting a dialogue to make change? Or seeing a waste of money to make a legacy for a few?


truthhurts 4 years, 7 months ago

the truth is....You are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. A headline hunter who is not about the benefit but the show. Those who do this for dialogue and change do it month in month out for the good of the community and the organizations they represent. Have you offered any solutions to these issues you are complaining about? How many council meeting had you attended prior to your tirade? How many hospital board meeting? How many fire board meetings? How many booster meetings, maximum commitment to excellence and finally friends of Moffat County education meetings?

Like I said easier to tear down then to create....create something Al.


Taxpayer 4 years, 7 months ago

I have and will continue to attend a lot of meetings for Council, BOCC, and numerous boards -- but what offends me the most is the lack of dialogue or discussion on topics prior to decisions being made. It appears that "we" like to chat rather than have open discussions or perhaps "we" would rather complain after the fact rather than working to be being part of the solution. But being part of the process takes time, and also bringing up or exposing any type of a problem can make "we" the easy target. Just a pondering of life in Craig America and Moffat County.


truthhurts 4 years, 7 months ago

Ponder away it appears to be your strength and "we" all should play to our strengths. Just don't complain that while you are stuck in your ponder paralysis the rest of us will continue getting it done.


Taxpayer 4 years, 7 months ago

Just like Burger King, you can have it your way and in turn because this is America, I can have it mine.


nopittyforafool 4 years, 6 months ago

The ones that got ran off or fired are people who stand up for what is right for the employees and patients. It's so sad. Even the hospital board has turned a blind eye to complaints that were given to them. And… How is it the CQO who implements HIPAA rules, was found GUILTY of violating HIPAA regs by the state still works there?? Pretty sure she her self fired people for only aligations of such violations with out even an investigation. Hmm. Suppose George can't function without someone as hypocritical as her. Evil through out that admin staff! So sad for this community.


reader1 4 years, 6 months ago

I am not sure I understand why TMH hasn't made the changes the community has requested. I have never read a positive article regarding the management at TMH. I have read articles and comments about the Jennifer MollyPhillps is referring to multiple times and none of them have been positive. I don't know George or Jennifer and I do not use the services at TMH but I don't understand why there isn't a management change. Craig clearly has problems keeping doctors and the community is not pleased with TMH - what does it take to get changes made? New management is what most companies would do. I've never heard of an employee at any other place that is able to get complaint after complaint and remain employed. How many more complaints does TMH have to get before doing something?


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.