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By Lindsey Bright
On Tuesday night, the Upper San Juan Health Service District board of directors approved the business plans for two new areas of service: women’s services and orthopedic surgery.
According to the executive summary for the women’s services plan, most local women now travel to Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango for mammogram screenings, gynecological operations, breast biopsies and other common women’s care services. The thought is that, by offering these services in Pagosa at Pagosa Springs Medical Center, more women would use them here and business would increase. Medical center CEO Brad Cochennet told the board that PSMC is anticipating a 25-percent capture rate with these services.
The plan shows Dr. Amber Reiss-Holt performing breast surgeries, Dr. Nicole Pinkerton as a gynecologist, Dr. Carole Nasralla working with family medicine, and Dr. Ronald Ritz as a plastic surgeon.
Director Karl Irons informed the board that the finance committee had reviewed both plans and approved each of them. Irons specified that, for the women’s services business plan, there are various options for how the plan can be implemented, but if the final decision is in line with the spirit of the plan, the finance committee does not foresee a problem.
“We’d be able to pay for screening through the surgical component,” Cochennet told the board. He added that this would make the addition of the services easier, eliminating worry over the mammography screening not making money.
Board chair Malcolm Rodger asked if any experiential input had been gathered from other Critical Access Hospitals that have begun to offer mammography and women’s services programs. Cochennet responded that as of yet, no, but that it could be done.
“I think it could be very interesting and informative,” Rodger said. Director Neal Townsend agreed with the sentiment, adding that it could provide valuable information for execution of the plan.
The women’s services business plan was unanimously approved by the board.
The board also unanimously approved the orthopedic surgery business plan.
Two orthopedic surgeons from Durango Orthopedic Associates, Dr. Robert Goodman and Dr. Kimberly Furry, will begin seeing patients at PSMS one day each week, three weeks of the month. They will remain as independent practitioners.
“The hope is to expand,” Cochennet told the board, but added there would be a very slow and methodical start-up period.
Cochennet said the physicians were ready to start working in Pagosa, but first must be credentialed. There was board consensus that a special meeting should be held in order to expedite this process.