Our View: Mayo network enhances patient care

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The recently announced partnership between Yampa Valley Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic is good news, further solidifying the local hospital’s reputation for excellence and enhancing patient access to high-quality health care.

Steamboat Today editorial board — January to April 2014

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Karl Gills, community representative
  • Will Melton, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

As the newest member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, YVMC is one of 26 medical centers nationwide and only the second hospital in Colorado to achieve this distinction. As a member of the Mayo network, patients and health care providers at YVMC will be able to tap into Mayo Clinic resources directly. Access to Mayo’s 4,000-plus physicians across the country and the clinic’s vast database of research will offer another level of expertise for patients wishing to stay close to home for their care.

Local doctors now will have the ability to conduct electronic consultations with Mayo Clinic specialists, allowing patients to get highly qualified second opinions without having to travel outside the Yampa Valley. Physicians also will have access to AskMayoExpert, an online medical reference tool that is only available through the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

As YVMC CEO Frank May said last week, the relationship with Mayo represents a partnership and is not a loss of independence for the hospital. Patients and physicians still have the option of consulting with subspecialists on the Front Range as they have in the past. The expertise offered by Mayo is just another tool for physicians to utilize, giving them access to a knowledge base that comes with a larger system.

The best path of care for each patient still will be decided by patients and their local doctors, May said, and according to the Mayo officials who were in Steamboat last week, their organization has no interest in owning and operating more medical centers. Mayor Clinic Vice President Wyatt Decker summarized the philosophy behind the Mayo Clinic Care Network when he said, “We aspire to share our knowledge to provide higher levels of care to broader groups of people.” And we think medical care in the Yampa Valley will be strengthened by that commitment.

Initially, there were concerns that a hospital the size of YVMC might not be able to meet the standards Mayo sets for its network hospitals, but after three on-site visits, Decker said it was clear YVMC and Mayo were a perfect cultural and philosophical fit. The local hospital had to pass Mayo Clinic’s rigorous review process, and by joining the Mayo network, it’s clear that YVMC is a hospital committed to improving health care for patients through high-quality, research-driven medical care and treatment.

Another plus of the Mayo collaboration lies in the fact that the cost of the contract will not be charged to patients. The hospital will absorb the cost of the agreement, and patients will not see any significant increase in their bills for the enhanced service, May said. The community also should be reminded that YMVC operates as a nonprofit organization without taxpayer support.

Ultimately, the partnership with the Mayo Clinic is a value-added proposition. As YVMC Chief Medical Officer Larry Bookman, D.O., said, “This only enhances our goal of providing excellent health care for everyone in our community.”

Yampa Valley Medical Center’s stature as one of the state’s best hospitals has been strengthened by the board’s decision to build networks with prestigious outside organizations such as Mayo. The end result is improved quality of care, achieved as more patients have the choice to access the health care they need locally, which in turn makes Steamboat Springs an even more attractive place to live for all segments of the community.

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