Vail Valley Medical Center decides to change providers |

Vail Valley Medical Center decides to change providers

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL – The Vail Valley Medical Center is changing its anesthesiology services from the current 12-doctor local group to a new group of doctors that will work under ApolloMD, a national group practice.

Hospital CEO Doris Kirchner said through a statement that the hospital hopes “a core group” of the hospital’s current anesthesiologists will continue to work under ApolloMD. She did not comment on what brought about the need for the change.

Preston Smith, president of anesthesia operations for ApolloMD, said the practice is in the recruiting process now in anticipation for the Nov. 1 start date in Vail. He said ApolloMD is hopeful to retain some of the current team.

Smith said the benefit of having a national group is that there are more resources for things like research, recruiting, billing and collections, insurance and regulatory changes in Medicaid and Medicare.

“You have the benefit of strength and stability of a large company behind you,” Smith said.

Smith said the company has never lost a contract in 35 years and has a retention rate of over 97 percent with its physicians.

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Kirchner is looking forward to the partnership, she said.

“I’m very excited to have ApolloMD as a partner to the medical center. This is an opportunity to take the anesthesia services in our valley to a premier level, reflective of the orthopedic and other surgical services we currently offer,” Kirchner said.

Of the 12 anesthesiologists in the current group, one doctor agreed to speak about the change on the condition of anonymity because he doesn’t want to jeopardize future job opportunities.

The doctor said a couple of the current doctors have showed an interest in interviewing with ApolloMD, but so many of them are disgruntled about the way the hospital has handled the change that most of the group will be leaving the hospital, he said.

The hospital issued a request for proposals for the new anesthesiology group and a selection committee made a unanimous recommendation to the hospital and surgery center boards to select ApolloMD in April.

The hospital’s statement says the committee was made up of surgeons and administrators.

The process allowed the current 12-doctor group to also compete for the new contract, but the current doctor said the process was hostile and left the group with no option to remain other than to interview with ApolloMD.

The doctor said a couple of surgeons at the hospital had frequently complained about the current anesthesiologists for things such as tardiness, but that none of the complaints had anything to do with patient care. The doctor said those surgeons have enough clout within the hospital hierarchy that it was enough for the hospital to make this drastic change.

“There’s so much weird politics going on,” the doctor said. “It’s a really weird situation.”

The doctor said several other Vail Valley Medical Center surgeons sent letters of recommendation to the selection committee on the current group’s behalf, but the “one or two difficult surgeons” who had complained had more influence, he said.

Hospital spokeswoman Lindsay Warner said Kirchner “is unable to answer any follow-up questions regarding the new contract.”

The current doctor who is leaving the hospital thinks ApolloMD will have a hard time recruiting new physicians just as the current anesthesiology group has had. He said the current group of doctors expects the new group to fail.

“Not everybody wants to live in a small town with long winters,” he said. “We’ve been recruiting for years and years. … We’ve had a hard time ourselves, and we were independent, autonomous and paying well. Many people don’t want to work for a company that’s not based here.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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