Physician assistant to work in Oak Creek

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South Routt Medical Center has gained back a physician assistant, but it may lose a doctor.

The medical center in Oak Creek will resume offering services from a physician assistant today, after doing without one for the past two weeks because of restructuring by the Steamboat Medical Group. Physician assistant Frankie Hannah will work at the center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, said Linda Long, president of the South Routt Medical Center Board.

Dr. Daniel Smilkstein also will continue to work at the center on Mondays until the end of June, Long said. But neither she nor administrators at the Steamboat Medical Group know if a doctor will work there beyond that month.

"Nothing's been finalized. We're still discussing, and we hope to decide shortly," said Steamboat Medical Group Administrator Judith Lehel.

Previously, Steamboat Medical Group handled billing and provided the center with a doctor once a week and a physician assistant twice a week. But the medical group reorganized its business in April and, as a result, withdrew its partnership from the South Routt Medical Center.

As part of a new partnership, Yampa Valley Medical Associates will send a physician assistant to the center twice a week, but it probably will not send a doctor, said Ginny Glass of the Yampa Valley Medical Associates.

Long said the South Routt Medical Center board is not troubled by the changes.

"Some people were sad to see one doctor go, but Frankie has been here before and was good with the seniors and schoolchildren. So I think the change was a great thing," Long said.

Now that the center has a regular physician assistant again, board members are waiting to learn whether Smilkstein will work there past June, whether another doctor will replace him or whether the center will be without a doctor.

"I'm just as anxious as everyone else about it, probably more," Lehel said. "It will be Dr. Smilkstein's decision, and we're waiting to hear."

--To reach Kristin Bjornsen,

e-mail intern@steamboatpilot.com

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