South Routt doctor is in

If patient interest doesn't increase, services may not last

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The South Routt Medical Center is back to offering services from a doctor and a physician assistant three days a week, but the services won't last if patient interest does not increase.

Dr. Dan Smilkstein will continue working at the center on Mondays through Yampa Valley Medical Associates, which formed a new partnership with the South Routt Medical Center in May.

"We're excited. We really want this to work," said Erik Sharp, practice administrator for Yampa Valley Medical Associates. "We just hope the South Routt community will respond to having these services out there."

The development comes a few months after the Steamboat Medical Group's reorganization in April forced the group to dissolve its partnership with the South Routt Medical Center.

Smilkstein is a doctor with Steamboat Medical Group but will work at the South Routt Medical Center as part of Yampa Valley Medical Associates.

That means that Yampa Valley Medical Associates will have the only medical presence at the center, handling all the center's billing and providing Smilkstein once a week and physician assistant Frankie Hannah twice a week.

The center also will have someone who specializes in drawing blood available for the first and third Wednesdays of every month, so patients seeing any physicians in the practice can have their blood drawn for routine or pre-physical exams.

Yampa Valley Medical Associates is interested in providing more services to the community, but Sharp said that a lot depends on the community's commitment to using the center.

The practice will watch closely the volume of patients in the next few months, he said.

"If we don't see the South Routt community use that clinic as a place for primary care, then it's going to be very difficult for us to continue care," Sharp said.

During June, the physician assistant only saw one or two patients each day. That number must increase to eight to 10 patients a day for the practice to be viable, Sharp said.

If those volumes are not seen in the next months, Yampa Valley Medical Associates might consider a change in its presence at the clinic, he said.

Yampa Valley Medical Associates is working closely with the South Routt Medical Center Board of Directors, as well as with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, to target grant money to improve equipment, to bring in additional providers and to increase service.

"(We're) very positive about the potential for that funding to come into play and to keep the presence out there in South Routt viable," Sharp said.

The medical center in downtown Oak Creek is open with Smilkstein from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, and with Hannah from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.

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