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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Buy-out brings better bone care: Community Hospital grows orthopedic practice with new spine, bone doctors

Jul 05, 2018 03:20AM ● By Jan Weeks

Whether you’re a senior needing a shoulder replaced, a weekend warrior with a broken leg, or a young person suffering from scoliosis you can now find comprehensive bone care under one roof as Community Hospital welcomes two spine surgeons and an established team of expert orthopedic surgeons into the family.

“Adding orthopedic spine surgery to our growing list of service lines and surgical specialties has been a priority for some time now,” Community Hospital President and CEO Chris Thomas said, “especially the caliber of surgeons as Clifford and Gebhard.”

Spine surgeons Kirk Clifford and James Gebhard recently moved from Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates into the suite of offices occupied by Western Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in the Canyon View Medical Plaza, the same building that houses Community Hospital. Their practice is known as Western Colorado Spine.

Gebhard and Clifford were both excited to join Community Hospital and help them grow their new orthopedic spine surgery program.

“[I] have been highly impressed with the strategic, forward-thinking approach Community Hospital has taken over the past several years to move the organization forward in a competitive health care environment,” Clifford said.

Mitchell Copeland, an orthopedic surgeon with Western Orthopedics, said he and the company’s other partners, Richard Knackendoffel and Kennan Vance, have been in negotiations with Thomas since last summer because patients aren’t the only ones feeling the squeeze of skyrocketing medical costs.

“The rising costs of compliance with government regulations and reporting have increased the costs of doing business to private practices, as have insurance hassles and contracting costs,” he said, adding that more doctors are choosing to be employed rather than starting a private practice.

Copeland said that recruiting new physicians and other professional staff has also become extremely difficult, as there is a shortage of orthopedic doctors in the area. By joining forces with Community Hospital, administrative duties such as payroll and hiring will be taken care of by the hospital’s professional team, allowing doctors to spend more time on patient care.

It seems that everyone—patients, doctors and medical staff—stands to benefit from the new association.

“Being able to offer better access to joint replacement and spine surgery will improve care for patients of all ages,” said Copeland.

The Western Orthopedics team is rounded out by podiatrist Dr. Joshua Thun, hand surgeon Dr. James Rose and sports medicine specialist Dr. Bjorn Irion.

For more information, call 242- 0920 or visit