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Breck clinic back in business

HARRIET HAMILTON
summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE ” It was business as usual again at Breckenridge Medical Center Friday afternoon after an agreement was reached between the Vail Valley Emergency Physicians and the clinic’s managing partner, Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC).

Medical care had been unavailable at the clinic since Wednesday evening, when the physician group contract with the facility expired. Although nurses continued to provide first aid to walk-in patients on Thursday and physicians were present at the clinic in case of emergency, ambulances were diverted and patients with appointments were redirected to the Keystone Medical Center.

VVMC public relations director Scott Boie declined to give details of the new contract, but emphasized his hospital’s commitment to maintaining services without interruption.

“This will keep the clinic open until ownership issues are resolved,” he said.

A joint venture of VVMC and Denver-based HealthOne since 1992, the future of Breckenridge Medical Center remains uncertain, as both HealthOne and Centura Health, parent company of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, have expressed interest in buying VVMC’s share of the operation.

According to Vail Valley Emergency Physicians spokesperson Dr. Larry Brooks, his group felt they could not legitimately see patients without a signed contract. He said the principal sticking point in contract negotiations was inclusion of a non-compete clause. As partner in the clinic, HealthOne insisted on a non-compete clause and the physician group would not agree.

Partly because Centura Health has expressed interest in buying Keystone Medical Center, now wholly owned by VVMC and staffed by Vail Valley Emergency Physicians, Brooks’ group was unwilling to limit its local practice to HealthOne facilities.

“Non-competes are anti-productive,” Brooks said. “They hinder our ability to take care of the patients. (Getting rid of non-competes) allows us to negotiate with any of the hospital systems that have emergency services in Summit County without restrictions.”

Brooks said the new contract will be renewed on a month-by-month basis until the clinic’s future is decided.

“Vail Valley Emergency Physicians has been in Breckenridge since 1992 and we’ve never missed a day,” he said. “We disagree about what has been said by HealthOne (about the contract negotiations), but we don’t feel more needs to be said because it’s been resolved.”

HealthOne spokesperson Linda Kanamine refused to comment about any disagreement with the physician group, but reiterated her previous statement that her company was “caught by surprise” by the contract expiration on Wednesday.

Breckenridge clinical manager Karie McDonald said she was relieved by the quick resolution.

“Our doors are open,” she said. “We’re back in business.”


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