Home Local News Increased access to quality healthcare arrives in the midvalley

Increased access to quality healthcare arrives in the midvalley

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Karen Locke, MD, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Positive health outcomes for the entire community become possible when every person in the community has convenient access to high-quality healthcare.

Aspen Valley Hospital has been recruiting more primary care physicians to the Roaring Fork Valley for this exact purpose, which is commonly referred to in the medical world as “population health.”

“As primary care physicians, we make our impact on health by focusing on the patient and our panels as a whole,” said Dr. Michael Plachta, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care in Basalt. “‘Population health’ occurs when physicians and systems collaborate to focus on the bigger picture, in this case the eternity of the Roaring Fork Valley community.”

Aspen Valley Primary Care opened July 15, next to the Midvalley Imaging Center, to provide comprehensive medical care for children and adults in the midvalley. Alyssa Franklin, AVH’s Director of Primary Care, said that primary physicians can not only treat patients’ immediate medical needs, they also can screen for cancer, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and more.

“When caught early, these health issues can be treated or managed before they become more serious problems,” she said, “and this keeps our community healthier as a whole.”

Four full-time physicians

Kelly Locke, MD, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Dr. Plachta joined Drs. Karen and Kelly Locke, who previously had their own family medicine practice in Basalt for the last 20 years, to form Aspen Valley Primary Care. Dr. Edward Wiese, an internist, will join the practice in October.

With Aspen Valley Hospital’s wide network of resources and administration efficiencies, these midvalley physicians can focus on what’s most important: patients.

“Building trust with patients is what family medicine is all about,” Dr. Karen Locke said. “Our style is to be good listeners. Some people may feel rushed when at a doctor’s office. But we will sit down with our patients and listen to their concerns and then address them.”

A Q&A with Dr. Michael Plachta

Michael Plachta, MD, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Why did AVH determine this new family medicine practice was needed in the midvalley? Are there specific midvalley healthcare needs the practice aims to meet?

Dr. Michael Plachta: Our community makeup is changing in that it is both aging and increasing in size. Our community of physicians is changing as well. Some are close to retirement age or considering concierge medicine or alternative practice styles. Looking forward, AVH is covering those potential shortages in care in the valley before they become a problem.

Please describe the importance of preventative care to overall health and wellness. What are some consequences of ignoring preventative care?

MP: We all know that problems in life are much more manageable if we don’t let them grow. We use words of wisdom like “nip it in the bud” and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and healthcare is no different. For example, a heart attack can cost a patient close to $1 million dollars over their lifetime, not to mention non-financial costs. It’s much cheaper to manage risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol before the heart attack even becomes a problem. Even better, focusing on good diet, regular exercise and overall wellness can prevent those underlying risk factors from even developing.

How is AVH Primary Care aiming to lower costs for patients?

MP: Cost lowering requires a multi-pronged approach. Our team includes a care coordinator, who will help us identify gaps in preventative care and coordinate care access. Further, we will establish a “transitional care clinic,” which will manage the scary time when patients get discharged from the hospital and make their way back into the community. In addition, we will work to have outpatient clinics available for emergency room patients that may be more outpatient appropriate. Of course, we provide health fairs, which provide recommended screenings at an affordable cost.

What else would you like the community to know about AVH Primary Care in Basalt?

MP: I am really impressed with the team-based care model AVH is implementing. In addition to our four primary-care physicians, our clinic is staffed with a clinical pharmacist, behavioral health worker, social worker, diabetes educator, and a dietitian. Furthermore, our inpatient and outpatient services will be fully integrated, improving physician-to-physician communication and reducing redundant testing. I think our patients will be best served with his approach.

via:: The Aspen Times