Expanding health care options are becoming more abundant in Hayden, Craig
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Craig mom and businesswoman Patricia Wymore has four children ages 9 and younger, and she works in two entrepreneurial ventures, so the less time she has to take off work or hire a babysitter for family health care appointments, the better.
When the Wymore family’s favorite pediatrician in Craig moved away, they turned to the Pediatrics of Steamboat Springs office in Hayden, which is open every week day.
Some families in Moffat County say they appreciate the health care options available across the Yampa Valley through increasingly collaborative efforts. Expanding communication and cooperation among medical leaders is helping to meet patient needs, while also helping to balance medical organizations’ budgets.
For example, in December 2019, Steamboat Orthopaedic & Spine Institute entered into an affiliation agreement with Memorial Regional Health to provide orthopedic care and surgery services in Craig.
“It’s absolutely the right thing for patients to stay closer to home if it’s possible based on their condition and need of specialty,” said Curtis Mayse, CEO at SOSI.
Mayse said the tipping point for adding specific medical services in smaller towns is a delicate balance of community medical needs, gaps in current services and financial considerations. So, satellite offices and shared medical coverage agreements can help.
“You can’t afford it all,” Mayse said. “We’re doing the best we can with what we can afford.”
Pediatrics of Steamboat added Monday hours at the Hayden clinic in early October, receptionist Becca Hunter said, due to the “desperate” need for more pediatric services across the northwest corner of Colorado and the Baggs, Wyoming, area.
The Hayden office now stays as booked as the Steamboat office and provides care via six rotating staff including two nurse practitioners and four physicians. Hunter said expansion of the practice was especially needed following the retirement of Dr. Steven Ross at the end of May and the closure of his 22-year practice Sleeping Bear Pediatrics.
Wymore said she finds area medical providers are “very good about making sure we get the care we need even if it’s not their facilities.”
“For the most part, they all communicate really well,” Wymore said. “They all try to limit the time we have to travel.”
Several other Steamboat medical practices offer satellite care in Hayden and Craig. Two Steamboat-based primary care clinics offer limited hours in Hayden on West Jackson Avenue in the former Solandt hospital building. Yampa Valley Medical Associates offers appointments there on Wednesdays, and Steamboat Medical Group is open Tuesdays and Fridays.
UCHealth continues to grow services in Craig, such as women’s care and primary care five days a week, as well as heart and vascular care on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Behavioral health services currently are offered one day a week with hiring underway to expand to three days, said Ryan Larson, UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center director of clinic operations.
In October 2020, UCHealth purchased the medical clinic building previously leased at 595 Russell St. in Craig and renovated the building, representing a “long-term commitment and presence in the Craig community,” said Lindsey Reznicek, UCHealth communications strategist in Steamboat.
Since Memorial Regional Health in Craig discontinued its birthing center in January 2020, the obstetric staff from UCHealth Women’s Care Clinic rotate schedules to see women in Craig during pregnancy. When Moffat County moms travel to the UCHealth Birth Center in Steamboat to deliver their babies, they should already know the delivery doctor on call.
In another effort to serve community members where they live, UCHealth operates Little Snake River Clinic in Baggs, Wyoming, that is home to a full-time physician assistant. UCHealth SportsMed Clinic provides physical therapy and rehabilitation services at satellite locations Monday through Thursday in Hayden and Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in Oak Creek, with a hand therapist one day a week in Craig.
Both hospitals in the Yampa Valley and at least three other medical groups utilize the same Epic medical records system to facilitate patient record sharing, Larson said.
UCHealth YVMC has faced that delicate balance of when to provide additional service in a smaller community for many years in areas from oncology to neurology. For example, when the level of need for specialty care in neurology grew beyond a monthly visiting physician from the Front Range, YVMC added a full-time neurologist on staff in August 2020, Larson said.
In the same spirit of sharing services, Memorial Regional Health offers the only area podiatrist at Steamboat Signature Specialty Clinic on Curve Plaza. Memorial Regional Health also opened a Rapid Care clinic in April 2018 to provide another level of care in Craig.
“It is encouraging to hear patients speak about the quality of services they are now able to receive in Moffat and Routt counties and the ease of referrals from one source to another,” said Sheli Steele, MRH marketing and community relations director. “Craig and Steamboat can really build on a symbiotic relationship of care as we are all focused on providing quality health care to our patients as affordably as possible.”
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