Michael Hickey: Letter writer’s description of Steamboat Emergency Center was ‘dishonest’
May 28, 2018
Recent letters lead me to believe that Steamboat residents are interested in more information on local healthcare options.
Before interjecting, I would like to be transparent. I am employed at Steamboat Emergency Center. With that said, Phyllis Coletta, who authored a previous letter, also has a professional relationship with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, an omission she should have revealed before publishing her complaint.
While Ms. Coletta's letter is well-worded, I wouldn't describe it as honest. Aside from neglecting to disclose her relationship to UCHealth, Ms. Coletta describes SEC as "a healthcare business that only accepts people with commercial insurance or private means of pay." This description is dishonest.
By law and by ethical standard, SEC accepts all emergent patients, treating them to the full extent of our resources. By choice, we accept everyone else, providing free medical screenings before the patient ever begins to accrue a bill.
Ms .Coletta says that we do not accept Medicare and Medicaid patients. She wishes you to believe that we are a miserly Scrooge of a facility that chooses to send the old and poor away untreated. Again, this is dishonest.
While it is true that the federal government will not allow facilities such as ours to accept Medicare and Medicaid, this is not our choice. As such, we make every effort to treat these patients, discounting the cost of their treatment to rates frequently lower than what they would be liable for elsewhere. It is not our desire to turn any patients away.
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After treatment, if a patient is upset with his bill, he has the ability to come in and talk to us. Since the doctor that treated him also owns the facility, he has the authority, ability and desire to make sure all parties leave satisfied.
At the end of the day, SEC does not want to destroy anyone's financial life, and so we do not send patients to collections. Again, we do not send patients to collections. Ms. Coletta cannot say the same of UCHealth.
I'm not going to tell you that YVMC is a bad facility. That would be a lie. YVMC is a fantastic hospital. I go there myself to see my cardiologist.
If you like your service there, I encourage you to continue using them. We don't mean to be in competition with their facility, just an alternative.
What I will tell you about UCHealth, who owns YVMC, is that they are not against the free-standing emergency room model. If they were, they wouldn't be the largest owner of free-standings ERs in Colorado, with 17 facilities on the Front Range, begging the question: If free-standing ERs are good enough for Denver, then why aren't they good enough for Yampa Valley?
Why does SEC exist? Because a group of board-certified doctors wanted to practice emergency medicine their own way; to bypass the bureaucratic red tape that comes with massive healthcare systems, while still practicing in their own backyard.
A driving force behind this project, Dallas Bailes, has longstanding ties to the community. Dr Bailes has lived here for years. He owns a house here. His son was born here. He didn't want to leave home for weeks at a time to practice medicine. Instead, he'd rather practice here in a community that he loves.
By all means, please continue to use Yampa Valley Medical Center. They are a top-notch hospital. But also keep in mind that Steamboat Emergency Center will be here for anyone who wants an alternative option, and we'll do our best to provide convenient, comfortable and individualized care for all who walk through our doors. Ms. Coletta is correct about at least one thing: we'll keep the fireplace on and even fluff your pillows.