Summit Daily letters: Why we’re expanding access to orthopedic care in Summit County |

Summit Daily letters: Why we’re expanding access to orthopedic care in Summit County

Why we’re expanding access to orthopedic care in Summit County

We’re glad Summit County is talking about orthopedics and how to get the best possible care. We’re proud partners with St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in creating a new, local team for orthopedic surgery and care. And we’re excited to go to work for a county full of residents who are active, well-informed and involved in their health care.

The main thing we want people to know is that your access to the best orthopedic care is better than ever. We will strive to be the best local choice for all orthopedic emergencies, consultations, surgeries and follow-up care.

We are teaming with some amazing physicians, who are tremendously excited about being Summit County citizens. Not only do they want to support local patients who need help, they want to jump right in to all those activities that make Summit County great.

Take Dr. Aaron Black, one of our new Summit County surgeons. He’s a triathlete, skier, climber and a consulting physician to the U.S. Ski Team. He grew up in Evergreen and was a high school ski patroller at Copper Mountain before heading to Colorado College and medical school. Summit County residents rightfully want orthopedic specialists with tremendous experience — Black is a fellowship-trained surgeon who has consulted across countless sports, from the skiers at Taos Valley, to Division I Women’s Hockey, to high school basketball, to University of New Mexico football.

Our other new local surgeon is Dr. Rick Bowles who comes to his orthopedic expertise in part from recovering from his own car accident trauma at age 20. Bowles wanted to help others return to a healthy life after orthopedic trauma, as he did, and gave up an accomplished engineering career to pursue medicine at University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Bowles interned at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, then had his residency in orthopedic surgery at CU’s School of Medicine before completing a prestigious Cleveland Clinic fellowship in sports medicine. Bowles has cared for amateur and pro athletes from all sports and all ages, including some from the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers. Bowles personifies the philosophy of medicine being available at the right place and the right time: He ran to the finish line to help patients at the Boston Marathon bombing, riding with the injured in an ambulance and caring for many of the victims in the hospital.

We appreciate how loyal patients become to their health care providers and we look forward to earning that kind of loyalty across Summit County. The fact is, Summit County residents are still free to go anywhere they find the best care. We are moving to increase people’s choices, not limit them, and we’re going to provide a lot of reasons to choose us. This major expansion of orthopedic care will speed appointments and care for all Summit County residents, as well as provide the most up-to-date specialized care for our important visiting population.

Dr. Tom Friermood

Former President, Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center


St. Anthony decision doesn’t benefit patients

Like most of my fellow Summit County residents, I lead an active lifestyle. In my case, biking and hiking in the summer, and skiing in the winter. All of us who partake in these sports know that in all likelihood, sooner or later, we will end up in the office of one of the orthopedists who practice in Summit County. Most of us have probably bonded with one or more of them. We know from personal experience that they are competent, caring individuals. On Oct. 1, Vail-Summit Orthopaedics, a group that has been part of our landscape for 30 years will no longer be covering the St. Anthony Summit emergency room.

The fact that they will no longer be the doctors who cover the orthopedic emergencies at St. Anthony’s Medical Center is disappointing to say the least. According to the interim executive director of St Anthony’s Summit, Dr. Marshall Denkinger, “the move (to replace Vail-Summit Orthopaedics with Panorama Orthopedics and Spine Center) was made for a variety of reasons important to St. Anthony’s mission to serve the community.” One would have to guess that the reasons were primarily monetary, and not related to improving the quality of emergency room orthopedic services.

Because the population of Summit County is relatively small, it is unlikely that we will ever have full-time coverage for all of the various medical specialties. That only happens in large cities. In Summit County, the notable exception to this is in the fields of orthopedics and dermatology. They are exceptions because of the high demand for those services, lots of orthopedic trauma and all too many skin lesions. This move by St. Anthony’s to exclude Vail-Summit Orthopaedics from their ER makes no sense from the perspective of improving the orthopedic care in our community.

Last month a friend of ours visiting from California fell while hiking, breaking her patella and requiring emergency surgery. My wife and I were able to reassure her that the orthopedist who saw her in the ER and was going to perform the surgery had a great reputation. I’m not at all sure that we will have the same level of confidence when the new group takes over coverage of the St Anthony’s ER. We would probably recommend that she go to the Vail Valley Medical Center where Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and the Steadman Orthopedic group still cover the ER.

Norman H. Stoller, DMD


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User