Archive for the ‘Greeley Medical Clinic’ Category

University of Colorado Health’s new Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center is taking shape in west Greeley. The center, located in the North Gate Village shopping center at 71st Avenue and 10th Street near King Soopers Marketplace, will open Nov. 26.

The community is invited to a free open house Nov. 17 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., which will include a Teddy Bear Hospital where kids can get TLC for their favorite dolls and stuffed animals. The event has been a big hit with families since starting a few years ago at Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.

Food and drinks will be served at the open house, and people who attend can register to win an iPad.






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One of the trends in modern health care is a return to going where patients are.

I wrote about this in a recent blog that focused on our Community Paramedic Program, and I alluded to the olden days of doctors arriving in a horse-drawn carriage at your front porch and climbing down, black medical bag in hand, to enter your home and care for your loved ones.

For much of the last half of the 1900s, this definitely wasn’t the case. A patient was expected to travel to physicians, no matter how far or how inconvenient it was for the sick person.

Thankfully, that model of care has moved off into the horizon, far, far away, and hopefully it’ll never wander back our way.

The Greeley Tribune recently published an excellent feature article about the frequent travels of two oncology physicians who have journeyed eastward for decades to treat patients in rural communities.

Dr. Kemme

The two featured physicians were Dr. Douglas Kemme, a physician with the Medical Clinic at Centerra, Loveland, who once a month motors to Yuma, on the eastern plains of Colorado, and Grant, Neb., and Dr. Thomas Lininger, a Greeley Medical Clinic physician who has  traveled to Sterling on a weekly basis for 35 years. As the Tribune pointed out, “That’s the equivalent of around the globe at least once.”

Now, that’s commitment to patients!

I’d like to offer some excerpts from the Tribune story as a way to tell you about the motivation. The staff reporter, Dan England, wrote:

“It doesn’t make much business sense to continue to travel to Yuma, he (Dr. Kemme) said. But there is something about those small towns. He sees the names of players on the basketball teams in store windows. Everybody is just so nice. They seem to appreciate him even more than the grateful patients in Greeley.”

Dr. Lininger

“…he wants his patients to be treated in their towns because that goes along with everything else he believes about how medicine works.

“…he said, ‘I see less patients, and I spend more time with them. A family physician might see three times the patients I do in one day. You have to have that personal contact. I want to know the names of their spouses and dogs.’”

PVHS does not have a policy requiring specialty physicians to go to rural areas to treat patients. That decision is left to individual doctors and their clinics.

Let me offer you an example of how dedicated city-based physicians are in traveling to rural areas to offer patient care. One of the pioneers in Fort Collins was Dr. Gary Luckasen, a founder of the Heart Center of the Rockies. The journeying to rural areas began in 1980 and now HCOR physicians routinely travel to small communities on the prairies and in the mountains.

“There was a huge gap that we saw and decided to fill,” Dr. Luckasen recalls. “Going to the areas where patients live has worked out well for the patients and their families. Our coming to them causes considerably less physical, emotional and medical stress on the patient.”

Dr. Luckasen

I asked our physician outreach department to gather some facts to give a perspective on how extensively the specialty physicians on our medical staff travel to rural areas to hold clinics. “Clinics,” by the way, is what we call these visits; physicians will see patients in previously arranged clinic locations like local physician offices or community hospitals in the rural towns.

Here’s the info for 2011:

• Our physicians received a total of 12,229 patient visits in rural areas.

• The Colorado communities included Brush, Craig, Estes Park, Fort Morgan, Grandby, Holyoke, Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, Sterling, Walden, Wray, and Yuma. The Nebraska communities were Alliance, Grant and Sidney.

• The medical specialties taken to patients were cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, general surgery, nephrology, neurology, oncology, and pulmonology. All of these are specialties generally not found in small communities, where, typically, family medicine is the primary avenue for medical care.

Our director of physician outreach services, Erica DeMint, offers this perspective on why local physicians hold rural clinics:

“The shortage of medical services is a big issue in rural communities. Local hospitals and clinics are often staffed by family physicians who are stretched to provide care across a wide spectrum of conditions. The on-site specialty clinics that our physicians hold augment services already available to patients and families where they need it the most—close to home.

“Working closely with the existing local physicians and other healthcare providers in the rural communities to build relationships enhances patient care and provides access to additional valuable patient resources that may be unavailable locally, such as diabetes education, information about bariatric services and cardiac device monitoring,” Erica concludes.

I’d like to say thank you to all of the physicians who go the extra mile (literally!) to offer care to rural residents. In conjunction with local physicians in these communities, they provide services that will help to keep the people in our region healthy.


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During the weekend, the Greeley Tribune published a package of staff-written news articles and guest editorials that focused on health care in Greeley and Weld County. I was asked to write a guest editorial that looked at the future of Poudre Valley Health System’s involvement there.

Simply put, the future is exciting and full of additional healthcare benefits and options for the people we serve.

PVHS will continue to provide high-quality care that is easily accessible for Greeley and Weld County residents. Our commitment to high quality and easy access is also the same for the other people we serve in the large region that PVHS covers in northern Colorado, Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska.

I have to say, though, that it is critically important to look at the recent past and what’s happening now in the Greeley medical scene to be aware of what may happen in the future.

Because my guest editorial had the usual 600-word limit for guest editorials in the Tribune, I was unable to delve into the historical perspective that I believe is critical. In my editorial I asked readers to come to my blog to learn more of the details about all that is happening in Weld County.

During the last 10 or 12 years, I have received phone calls from dozens of physicians who practice in different medical specialties in Greeley. They all had a similar concern, a major one.

They believed they were being disenfranchised by the Greeley medical establishment—specifically by Banner Health, which manages North Colorado Medical Center and has corporate headquarters in Phoenix—and this, they told me, resulted in their careers, their lives and their families being turned upside down. Many physicians revealed to me that they felt like they were being driven out of the community.

For several years I referred these physicians back to Greeley medical leaders hoping they would promote a solution.

During this same period, Poudre Valley Health System focused on finding collaborative ways to work with local physicians in Fort Collins and Loveland to provide high-quality patient care in our region.

Our collaborative efforts resulted in Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins, being named in 2000 as the first Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence between Los Angeles and Minnesota. Today PVH is one of only 17 hospitals to have received the designation three times in a row. Our Medical Center of the Rockies, which opened in 2007 in Loveland, received the designation nearly the moment the hospital was eligible.

Additionally, during this time PVHS started the first American College of Surgeons-verified level II trauma center in northern Colorado; began the first robotic surgery program in our region; and developed the region’s busiest heart program.

PVHS also became the first recipient and remains the only two-time recipient of the Colorado’s highest quality award, the Peak Performance Award presented by the Colorado Performance Excellence Program. In mid-January, PVHS became the only Colorado-owned and -operated health system to be selected as one of the nation’s top 15 health systems.

The most notable honor was when the President of the United States announced that Poudre Valley Health System was selected to receive the nation’s highest quality award, the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. PVHS is one of only 15 healthcare organizations ever to receive that honor.

While PVHS was distinguishing itself locally, regionally and nationally, the issue of physician disenfranchisement in Greeley continued.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. I encourage you to find any physician who has practiced in Greeley for more than a decade and ask if my assessment is accurate. I believe the chances are excellent that you’ll receive an answer similar to what I wrote above.

A few years ago the physicians with the Greeley Medical Clinic, the largest and oldest multi-specialty medical group in northern Colorado, realized they faced irresolvable issues with Banner Health. They began an exhaustive and objective search for a partner which they believe would work with them to put their patients first.

So that’s how GMC and PVHS linked up. We had fruitful talks and discovered mutual hopes and dreams and goals for high quality care for Greeley and Weld County residents.

In a comparatively short period of time, it became clear that the visions of GMC and PVHS were identical: Patients must come first and the care they receive must be extremely high quality … and the best way to achieve this is to maintain local control over healthcare decisions.

After many in-depth discussions and planning sessions, GMC physicians and PVHS leaders agreed to an affiliation.

This decision led to PVHS expanding its world-class care to Greeley and Weld County. In partnership with the outstanding physicians and staff of GMC in Greeley, we have continued to expand by developing new services, opening medical facilities in Windsor, bringing the Aspen Club and Healthy Kids Club into Greeley, and employing 1,100 Greeley and Weld County residents.

While PVHS has continued to offer more healthcare services to Greeley and Weld County, some vocal and very uninformed pundits have suggested that PVHS began serving the city and county solely to “steal away” or “cherry-pick” patients from Greeley.

Some pundits have said this even as we grow and expand services in Greeley.

Our most recent addition—a full service emergency room and one-day surgery center—will be completed in west Greeley by the fall of this year. We are excited that this project will enhance care and accessibility, and create even more healthcare options for Greeley residents without their having to travel very far from their homes.

The new medical facility is an example of the exact reason why GMC chose to affiliate with PVHS. Their decision was not about market share or budgets or filling patient beds. Instead, it had everything to do with GMC physicians wanting to be decision-making members of an organization that works closely with physicians to accomplish mutual goals for providing high-quality care for their patients.

During these last two successful years since the GMC-PVHS affiliation was formed, the same ill-informed pundits have continued to criticize PVHS by incorrectly portraying us an outsider bent on stealing away patients.

Such an accusation does a great disservice to 79 years of service to Greeley and Weld Country by the Greeley Medical Clinic. If GMC is not Greeley-born and -bred…who is, then?

The process that resulted in GMC stepping away from Banner Health seems to have played itself out all over again last spring, this time with an even more abrupt change.

This occurred when the long-experienced and very distinguished emergency physician group in Greeley was suddenly and surprisingly dismissed from practicing at North Colorado Medical Center. The service these highly skilled physicians provided was nationally ranked and medically respected.

So, once again, a significant number of physicians felt disenfranchised from work and life in Greeley. I heard from many of them.

To continue living in or near Greeley and to remain true to their commitment to serve local patients, many of these physicians elected to join Emergency Physicians of the Rockies, an independent physician group in Northern Colorado. These highly qualified physicians will staff the emergency services part of our center under construction in west Greeley, once again providing the same outstanding emergency services that have distinguished them for years. And they will provide this service while continuing to live and work and raise their children in Greeley…just as GMC physicians have done for generations.

Because the medical leadership of Greeley’s air ambulance was also imbedded in this group of emergency physicians, we elected to ask them to continue providing their outstanding service by creating our own helicopter program. For many years PVHS used the air ambulance service at NCMC because it provided a high quality and trusted service. Our service will now continue with those same medical leaders who have lived and worked in the Greeley community.

PVHS has moved ahead on the air ambulance program because we see a great need and opportunity for regionalized services. Our program, which will start this spring, will feature a helicopter specially designed to safely transfer patients out of such high-altitude areas as Rocky Mountain National Park.

Collaboration with regional providers is the type of relationship that we have always tried to develop and foster. Last year I approached NCMC leaders with the hope that we could also find a way to work together and avoid duplication on the many medical services needed in Greeley, Weld County and the rest of northern Colorado.

Unfortunately, I was told that they were unwilling to meet if the local Greeley physicians were involved. Of course, that type of attitude appears to me to be a driver behind what has happened to physicians in Greeley. Just so you know, we—PVHS—will always work first with physicians in trying to create healthcare solutions in the region.

To return to the focus of the Tribune’s news package … What is the future of health care in Greeley and Weld County?

The answer:

PVHS is there now…and GMC has been there for longer than most of us have been alive. We will continue to work closely with local physicians who have cared for generations of Weld County and Greeley patients. Care will be provided in Greeley and, for Windsor-area patients, in Windsor.

We will provide high quality care. We will make sure patients come first.

We will be there today, tomorrow and far beyond.


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(Dear Reader: The following guest blog was written by Grace Taylor, chief strategy officer for Poudre Valley Health System. It offers information on a new healthcare service that we’re developing. –Rulon)

One of the successful strategic tactics that we have used at Poudre Valley Health System is to make access to health care easy for community members.

In 2007, we opened Medical Center of the Rockies to increase healthcare access for Loveland area residents and enhance rapid access to trauma care.

In the last several years, we’ve worked with physicians in Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland, and Windsor to make access easier. Most notably, we’ve worked closely with physicians at the Greely Medical Clinic to help in their efforts to continue providing the ongoing easy access to high quality of care offered at the clinic since 1933.

We’ve done this because local and national research has demonstrated time and again that the preference of patients is to have easy access to their care providers.

With this strategy in mind and with the support of local physicians, we announced December 2 that we will build an emergency and same-day surgery center in North Gate Village in west Greeley.

Greeley experienced more than a 20.7-percent population growth during the last decade, much of which occurred in west Greeley. Where there is growth, there is a greater demand for convenient, quality medical services.

The new freestanding outpatient facility will bring choice and increase access to health care in Weld County and will likely reduce the amount of time patients have to wait to receive emergency medical care.

The 24-hour emergency care center will be staffed with board-certified emergency room physicians. The team of physicians and nurses will be trained and equipped to handle about any emergency except severe trauma cases, which will be sent to a hospital where trauma services are offered.

The emergency care center will have 10 examination rooms, two pediatric exam rooms, a resuscitation room, and laboratory. A diagnostic imaging area will include X-ray, ultrasound, CT, and MRI.

The surgery center will include three preparatory areas, two operating rooms, three recovery rooms, and an observation room. Same day-surgery will be offered for select general and elective surgeries in the areas of endoscopy, gastroenterology, orthopedics, and urology, as well as outpatient surgery. In addition, the center will offer IV therapy services.

The development of the 22,000-square-foot facility is another step forward in the care that PVHS offers to Weld County and northern Colorado. The facility, which is not yet named, is scheduled to open in June.

To learn more information about the facility and what will be offered there, please click here to go the press announcement on our website, pvhs.org.


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We held a grill day at the Greeley Medical Clinic on Friday…just as fun as the rest throughout PVHS where members of the Senior Management Team serve lunches to employees.  We are so thrilled to have GMC as  part of the PVHS team.

Greeley Medical Clinic Grill Day

I am always impressed with the staff members of GMC. During the last year they have had a lot of outside pressure and watched services and other important influences in the Greeley community impacted. GMC employees have remained resilient and positive at every turn.  All of Weld County and PVHS owes a great debt of gratitude to the physicians and staff at GMC.

To the GMC staff: I hope you liked the burgers at Grill Day! Thanks for all the great work you do to care for patients in Greeley and surrounding areas!🙂

Greeley Medical Clinic Grill Day


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The president and chairman of the board of directors for North Colorado Medical Center, Inc., published a guest editorial in mid-July in northern Colorado newspapers saying Poudre Valley Health System plans to build a hospital in west Greeley.

I’d like to make sure community members have the correct information.

The fact is that PVHS has never even discussed the possibility of building a hospital in west Greeley or anywhere in Weld County. We agree with the chairman’s assertion that such duplication often serves only to increase healthcare costs.

However, I can’t believe that Banner Health System—the Phoenix-headquartered organization that manages NCMC and owns McKee Medical Center in Loveland—is overly concerned about duplication because it has announced plans to build a third hospital in Morgan County.

As the largest locally controlled provider of healthcare throughout northern Colorado, PVHS is committed to ensure that our internationally recognized patient-care services remain both accessible and affordable to you.

For that reason, we will continue to work with physicians you have grown to know and trust in Loveland, Fort Collins, Windsor, or at the Greeley Medical Clinic in Weld County to explore innovative ways to provide state-of-the-art care close to the homes of community members.

The PVHS goal is for regional neighbors in the healthcare profession to work collaboratively so collectively we focus on what’s right for patients and physicians. We will continue to work with regional and local providers wherever possible.

The road has been less smooth at times than we would like. Since formalizing our relationship with the Greeley Medical Clinic we’ve endeavored to use existing medical services in Weld County, even if those services were part of another health system.

Unfortunately, our options were limited a year ago when NCMC leadership elected to deny access to the hospital to specialists working with GMC. Regardless, GMC and PVHS are committed to finding every way possible to meet the medical needs of residents of Greeley, Windsor, and the rest of Weld County, as well as Larimer County and elsewhere in our region, with our outstanding clinical care.

Our joint plan for growth in Frederick with Longmont United Hospital and our recent management agreement with the hospital in Sidney, Neb., are two recent examples of collaboration to ensure local control to keep quality high and costs low. Additionally, our impending affiliation with University of Colorado Hospital will ensure the PVHS tradition of world-class quality continues side by side with UCH’s world-class research and education.

Inaccurate assumptions and conclusions as were displayed in the most recent guest editorial serve only to confuse community members and erode the reputations of PVHS; McKee Medical Center, Medical Center of the Rockies, Loveland; Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins; and NCMC. If my actions in the past have contributed to this inaccuracy, I want to apologize for the confusion.

Northern Colorado residents are fortunate because we have excellent hospitals in PVH, MCR, NCMC, and McKee. Like MCR and PVH, NCMC is a Magnet hospital for nursing excellence, a distinction enjoyed by only a small percentage of U.S. hospitals.

We also have access to the foremost in new technology, such as the TrueBeam STx linear accelerator PVHS is now installing and will be treating cancer patients with in the very near future.

As PVHS works to enhance services offered by our two hospitals—MCR and PVH—we have opened new clinics and affiliated with existing ones to maximize quality while creating efficiencies to keep costs down.

Such efforts are crucial as we work to address national healthcare reform. Organizations must work together to be more efficient and undergo a fundamental shift from the current model of treating patients in hospitals to keeping patients healthy so they remain out of hospitals.

I hope all of us in the northern Colorado healthcare community will be better able to work collaboratively as we address the constantly changing healthcare environment.

I encourage you to stay in touch with PVHS by reading http://www.pvhs.org and my blog (visionary.pvhs.org). Please offer your thoughts on what we do well and where you think we can improve. With all of us working together, I am confident we will better meet your healthcare needs.

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I have told you in the past that I tell every employee that if this is not the best job that they have ever had, they absolutely need to let me know. We expect that they will give the best customer service our employees have ever had, so it only seems fair that we would first promise to make this the best job they have ever had.

Russ Branzell Talking at GMC Employee Forum

So, we work to give employees every opportunity to let us know when things are and when they are not working.  One of those is rounding, which Quint Studer taught us many years ago and which I put in my blog a few weeks ago, and one of those is employee forums.  This week we held forums and I thought I would give you a glimpse of a few of the forums.  We hold dozens and dozens of these so that employees can have an opportunity to let us know their thoughts.

Thanks to Jill Clark for the photo! :)

Employee Forum at Corporate Office

Thanks to the employees of PVHS for the dedication and service to our patients.


P.S.  Just so you know that all is not rosy, after the last blog about rounding I got a call from one department asking that I stop by because they were frustrated with their jobs. I got the message…honest. I will be by!

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