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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

No bones about it: Rocky Mountain Orthopaedics joins St. Mary’s medical group

Dec 08, 2018 12:19AM ● By Melinda Mawdsley

Smiles aren’t always visible at medical offices. Then again, Ruth Marie Long and her husband, Carl, aren’t always there.

The Gunnison couple has three new knees between them. Ruth had her right and left knees replaced nearly a decade ago while Carl’s left knee was replaced last year. These life-changing procedures have enabled the couple to go on daily walks without pain.

The Longs recently visited Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates (RMOA) for a routine follow-up exam with Dr. Jeff Nakano, a physician with RMOA since 1983.

Although the inside of Nakano’s clinic rooms looked unchanged, RMOA made a big announcement in September when it officially became part of SCL Health Medical Group, the same health system that operates St. Mary’s Hospital.

The decision creates an exclusive partnership locally between St. Mary’s and RMOA. The group’s physicians only operate at St. Mary’s and all RMOA staff are now employees of SCL Health. RMOA reaps the benefits of joining a large multi-state network with more reliable reimbursement rates and insurance contracts, and increased financial support to invest in equipment, technology, etc.

It may sound like a dramatic turn of events, but the plan is for patients to notice very little change, administrators said.

“RMOA joining SCL Health Medical Group will provide significant benefits to both parties as well as to the patients and communities we serve across Western Colorado,” said Ben Koger, executive director of SCL Health Medical Group. “For example, SCL Health Medical Group will gain the outstanding knowledge, skill and expertise of the RMOA providers and staff, and RMOA will benefit from the scale and resources of being part of a large, integrated health system and medical group.”

RMOA is the largest orthopedics group between Denver and Salt Lake City, specializing in such things as total joint replacements, broken bone repairs, physical therapy and spinal care.

Patients needing orthopedic care will still visit RMOA’s offices at 627 25 1/2 Road. There are no immediate plans to change the name or look, according to RMOA Practice Administrator Pam Bachorski.

Some patients may see a decrease in cost for clinic visits and follow-up exams because of the different contractual rates SCL Health shares with insurance providers, Bachorski said. Things such as in-house physical therapy, x-rays and MRI scans will still be done at RMOA.

“We will continue to work together to advance what we call the ‘triple aim’ goal of health care—improving quality, cost and patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Mark G. Luker, RMOA executive president. “As a single organization, we are confident that we will be able to advance this work more quickly to benefit our patients and communities.”

To contact RMOA, drop by their office or call 242-3535.