Steamboat Springs Yampa Valley Medical Center has announced a new partnership with the Mayo Clinic that will give physicians here the ability to consult with thousands of the clinic's specialists across the country.
"We couldn't be more proud to have this relationship with this organization," hospital CEO Frank May said Wednesday morning in a packed conference room as he was flanked by the Mayo Clinic's vice president and medical director. "This elevates our game."
May said the new partnership will help patients here receive better quality care and, in some cases, make it so that patients who previously had to travel long distances to see specialists can more easily get the care they need here in the Yampa Valley.
Yampa Valley Medical Center is the second Colorado hospital to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network after Aspen Valley Hospital joined in November.
Local physicians now will have the ability to get electronic consultations with Mayo Clinic specialists when they want a second opinion on patient care.
Mayo Clinic Medical Director Russell Heigh gave an example of how one of the hospitals in the network was able to consult with a Mayo specialist on a rare tumor, and the consultation helped the patient avoid surgery because it was determined radiation would be sufficient to treat it.
Physicians in the Mayo Clinic Care Network also will have access to AskMayoExpert, an online medical reference tool.
May announced the news Wednesday morning to a room full of hospital staff and community members who clearly were excited about the partnership.
May joked that now all the rumors that were swirling about the announcement — teased last week — could be put to rest.
He also stressed the contract is a partnership, not a loss of independence for the hospital.
He said the partnership with Mayo will be another tool for physicians, but it still will be up to patients and their doctors to decide the best path of care, including if they want to continue to use specialists on the Front Range.
"This is just another level of care," May said. "We're very excited about this."
A community member who attended the public announcement was pleased to learn the consultations with Mayo were not something patients would have to pay for.
May said the cost of the contract would be absorbed in the hospital's budget, and there wouldn't be any significant price changes for patients to help cover costs of the new partnership.
The Mayo Clinic Care Network was launched in 2011 and now includes 26 hospitals of varying sizes in 12 states as well as Puerto Rico and Mexico.
The hospitals undergo a rigorous evaluation in order to qualify for the Mayo Clinic Care Network.
May said the hospital's board of directors and staff have worked now for about 18 months to get the partnership in place.
The Mayo Clinic has its major campuses in Rochester, Minn.; Scottsdale and Phoenix, Ariz.; and Jacksonville, Fla.
Mayo employs more than 4,000 staff physicians and scientists.
Mayo Clinic Vice President Wyatt Decker said the hospital and the Mayo Clinic share a mission of putting the patient first, and he was excited about the new partnership.
"We are delighted to be part of this announcement and to be collaborating with the medical center," Decker said. "With all the changes in health care, there's a fair amount of consolidation of health care organizations with mergers and acquisitions. But we decided to take a different path. We don't aspire to own and operate more medical centers. We aspire to share our knowledge to provide higher levels of care to broader groups of people. That's our strategy going forward."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10
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