SALIDA—Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center announced on Wednesday that it plans to close its Internal Medicine practice at the end of March 2013. A letter informing all HRRMC Internal Medicine patients of this change is being mailed this week.
The hospital planned to make a public statement about the closure after patients had been notified but decided to release the information today in response to media queries.
HRRMC’s decision to close the clinic was prompted by the news that both of its internal medicine physicians would be leaving the practice. Dr. John Ellis is retiring at the end of 2012, and Dr. Laura Donigan is relocating to Denver at the end of August 2013.
“The hospital’s administrative team determined it would be difficult to recruit new internal medicine physicians to the practice because the vast majority of internists either want to work only in a clinic or only in a hospital setting,” said hospital CEO Ken Leisher. “After careful consideration, we determined it was most important to have an internist in the hospital treating complex patients.”
The hospital does plan to recruit an internal medicine physician to the valley who will only work in the hospital’s inpatient setting, according to Leisher. This physician would be available to treat more complex inpatients and would be available to consult with the family medicine physicians.
Dr. Ellis will be covering for Dr. Donigan on a limited basis after the first of the year, but his last day seeing patients in the clinic is December 28. Physician Assistant Beth Pack will also be leaving Internal Medicine at the end of 2012. She is relocating to the HRRMC Buena Vista Health Center, 28374 County Road 317, Buena Vista.
Patients of all three providers can be seen by Dr. Donigan at the Internal Medicine Clinic through the end of March 2013. From April through August 2013, Dr. Donigan will only be working at the hospital in the inpatient setting.
Current patients of HRRMC Internal Medicine will need to transfer their care to another primary care provider. Information about all four family medicine practices in Chaffee County is included with the letter to HRRMC’s Internal Medicine patients.