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New orthopedic center opens in Steamboat Springs

The building housing the Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute and the new Steamboat Surgery Center is officially open.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The building housing the Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute (SOSI) and the new Steamboat Surgery Center is officially open.

The SOSI physicians have already been seeing patients in the their new expanded office space over the past several weeks, and the Surgery Center will begin welcoming patients later this month.

The ambulatory surgery center (ASC) was created through a partnership between SOSI and the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

“It’s a dream realized,” said Dr. Patrick Johnson, of both the new office and the surgery center.

The Surgery Center’s mission is “to Provide safe and high quality outpatient surgical care in a cost effective manner with exceptional patient experience.”

The building is unrecognizable from its former incarnation as the Sports Authority Building, Johnston said. Upstairs, which houses the SOSI offices, has a waiting room with spectacular views of Steamboat Resort and Fish Creek Falls, he described, as well as 30-foot photograph of local ski jumper Annika Belshaw, taken by local photographer Noah Wetzel.

The upstairs also has an office leased by the medical center for a hand therapist to work closely with the hand surgeons. There are also two procedure rooms, in which some in-office surgeries will be performed, as well as spine injections for pain management.

About two years ago, two private orthopedic practices merged to create SOSI, now owned by five doctors: Michael Sisk, Andreas Sauerbrey, Alexander Meininger, Patrick Johnston and Clint Devin. Additional doctors in the practice include Bryan Bomberg, Adam Wilson, Alejandro Miranda and Lex Tracy.

The main level houses the Steamboat Surgery Center — a collaboration longtime in the making.

The road hasn’t always been smooth, but over the past year, the relationship and commitment from both sides has been strong, said Soniya Fidler, president of the hospital and board member of the surgery center.

Members of the community also played a vital role in steering the project in the direction of an ambulatory surgery center, as opposed to one run solely by the hospital.

“It’s one of the beautiful things about a smaller town,” Johnston said. “You can still have a voice and make change.”

The joint venture is designed to give greater autonomy to the physicians and lower the cost of surgeries for patients, eliminating the overhead borne by hospitals.

“I can be much more involved in the patient’s care and can consult with another surgeon as needed,” Sauerbrey said in a news release. “There is less bureaucracy and less overhead. It’s a huge benefit for our community overall.”

“We anticipate about 90% of our surgeries will be done at our center,” said Meininger in the release. “Typically, ASCs lower the cost of surgery by 30% and a big plus, in light of the pandemic, is keeping healthy outpatient surgeries in a separate facility where they aren’t exposed to sick people.”

Moving surgeries to the new center also frees up beds and resources at the hospital if needed in the pandemic response, Johnston and Fidler pointed out. And if needed, the center could potentially be part of a hospital surge capacity plan.

They said the pandemic both slowed down and sped up construction — keeping the project mostly on schedule. One downside is they are unable to have a big open house as planned, Johnston said.

“Orthopedic care is vital to our active lifestyles,” Fidler said. “We are excited to be so close to opening this important asset for our community.”

And it has been a tremendous effort, Fidler described, in terms of getting a new business up and running in addition while both teams were still operating their other entities.

“Our vision is to create a place where we can collaborate to provide Northwest Colorado with the best care possible in orthopedic medicine. With our offices all in one place, with the surgery center, MRI, X-ray and occupational therapy all in the same building, it’s a much more intimate setting and convenient for the patient,” said Sisk in the release.

The surgery center hired Pinnacle III as their management agency, who hired Wil Shlaff as the center’s CEO.

The company has been great to work with, Johnston said, and he and Fidler both touted the benefit Pinnacle brings with their experience developing more than 40 ambulatory surgery centers. And that experience extends to adapting to the post-COVID-19 world, they noted.

The idea is also to keep more patients closer to home, Fidler explained. “We’re hopeful to increase surgical volume at the hospital and at the ASC providing quality care close to home, which will allow us to add new jobs to the market.”

The center is something needed in the community, Johnston said. Providing less costly options for surgery, it “allows patients to keep their care here, when previously their insurance companies would push them elsewhere for the surgeries.”

The main level also has a brand new state-of-the-art MRI machine, owned by the SOSI team. It’s bigger, described Johnston, so more comfortable and less claustrophobic. There are also windows patients can see out of while getting an MRI, and it is faster while producing a higher quality image, he said.

Weighing about 13 tons, it took a crane to bring it into the building, Johnston said.

With the two orthopedic groups merging and then joining forces with the medical center, it took a long time and some contentious negotiations, but “this is what happens when you have such great teamwork,” Johnston said.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.


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