Medical center

Dear Editor:

This community’s strong spirit of independence and freedom was on full display for the Fourth of July weekend. Watching the parade meander down main street in spectacular style, I started thinking about our medical center, its grassroots foundation, and short (so far) history of independence. I began to think about the things that make me proud to live and work as a physician in Pagosa Springs.

The people that run the everyday operation of your medical center: the administration, the support staff, the board of directors, and the medical staff live in our community, as our bylaws require. This inherently breeds a sense of ownership, responsibility, and stewardship that can only come from people in your neighborhood. You will see us at your parades, in your restaurants, in your churches, on your ski hills, on your trails and in your grocery stores.

No health care institution is perfect, and I have had my own frustrations at times both as a patient and a physician. That being said, how many medical centers in this world are governed in open public meetings, covered by a free press, and encourage feedback from all community members? I have never seen a concern or complaint from a patient ignored or fail to shape future patient interactions in our medical center.

Our medical center supports and promotes independent providers in the community, and they in return support the medical center. This symbiotic relationship is vital. Healthcare in this community cannot stand divided. Our citizens are stronger and healthier because we all work together to make each other strong.

Our medical center doesn’t belong to the medical staff, nor does it belong to the administration or even the board of directors. We are not and will never be a “McMedical Center.” We are not subservient to a boardroom in Denver or to for-profit shareholders. We work with people of all religious beliefs, and thus we are not restricted to practice medicine along any one denomination’s views.

As its name implies, Pagosa Springs Medical Center belongs to the people of Pagosa Springs. It was built through the hard work, taxes, volunteer hours, and donations from the citizens of Pagosa Springs. It exists as a reflection of what the people said they wanted in a healthcare facility. If and when it doesn’t reflect that image, it is up to you to constructively mold it to fit our community’s evolving needs. The power to make changes in our medical center has and always will belong to you.

As a physician, surgeon, public health professional and citizen of Pagosa Springs, I am proud of our independent, community-owned medical center, and I ask you to be proud, too.

David Shaeffer

MD MPH, chief of staff

This story was posted on July 17, 2014.