Denver-based hospital group negotiating for Breck clinic
BRECKENRIDGE – A potential takeover of the Breckenridge Medical Center (BMC) by Centura Health, parent company of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, became less likely Friday when HealthOne, a Denver-based hospital and health care group, told BMC employees of its intention to acquire full ownership of the emergency clinic.A joint venture of the non-profit Colorado Health Alliance and the national for-profit Hospital Corporation of America, HealthOne has operated the medical center at the base of Peak 9 in partnership with the Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC) since 1992. Its affiliate hospitals in the Front Range include Swedish Medical Center and Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center.BMC’s future had been cast into doubt recently because of a decision by Vail Resorts to send its injured skiers and snowboarders elsewhere. Last week the ski company acknowledged it had signed an agreement with Centura Health to provide emergency treatment to its customers during the upcoming ski season, ending its long-term relationship with health care providers at BMC.Clinic employees, who are employed by VVMC, were told about the loss of the agreement with Vail Resorts and were led to believe the Vail hospital was no longer interested in maintaining the facility.”We were all afraid of what was going to happen,” emergency medical technician Holly Swaffield, a 14-year clinic veteran, said. “We have a lot of patients who love our doctors and who want us to continue with our patient care.”HealthOne, in declaring its intention to buy out VVMC’s share of the Breckenridge clinic, puts itself in direct competition with Centura Health in the mountain town.”We think it’s good for Breckenridge to have the medical center close by,” HealthOne spokesperson Linda Kanamine said. “We’re committed to Breckenridge. We’ve had a long relationship and we very much want to stay there.”Centura Health has no facility in Breckenridge near the mountain, and it’s unclear how the company plans to provide the services it has agreed to for next ski season. It would be both impractical and unethical for ski patrollers to bypass a designated trauma center such as BMC in order to transport injured patients to Summit Medical Center for treatment.In addition to emergency care, BMC also operates a year-round family practice clinic. Kanamine said HealthOne is looking at all the town’s needs.”We would like to see people who live here year-round have options for health care,” she said. “I think there are other needs than skiers.”Kanamine cautioned that no agreement with VVMC has been finalized yet, but reiterated her company’s commitment to maintaining a presence in Breckenridge.”We think they’re doing a great service to the area here,” she said. “We’ve made it very clear we’re interested.” The Keystone Medical Center, a facility similar to BMC which sees injured skiers from Arapahoe Basin and Keystone, is wholly owned by VVMC. Its contract with the resort will not expire until 2011 and Kanamine indicated HealthOne also has an interest in possible acquisition of that operation.”We’ve had those discussions,” she said.VVMC did not respond to inquiries about the BMC negotiations.Even without any signed agreement, Swaffield said the mood at the clinic has drastically improved.”Everybody is extremely happy about this,” she said. “We wanted to stay together and we wanted to provide the best health care in Summit County.”Harriet Hamilton can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13624, or at email@example.com.
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