The agreement widens the options for treatment and rehabilitation, ensuring that injured student-athletes are afforded the best possible care by a collective of three local orthopedic-care providers working in concert.
“This will be an inclusive care system, leveraging the incredible resources we are fortunate enough to have in Gunnison and Crested Butte,” Alpine Orthopaedics Director Bonnie McDonald said.
Western pitched the idea this year as part of its ongoing efforts to forge balanced partnerships that benefit both the college—particularly its students—and the community.
"We wanted to make sure that all qualified medical providers in our community could be available to care for our student-athletes,” Western Chief Operating Officer Brad Baca said. “It just makes sense to make sure the right care for the right injury can be provided by the right doctor as quickly as possible.”
Gunnison Valley Health, in association with gO Orthopedics, has now joined forces with Alpine Orthopaedics, which has worked with Western’s student-athletes for the past 20 years, to provide the widest and deepest network of injury care to date.
“Our new partnership marks a significant step in cooperating across organizations to bring the best care possible to our community’s student-athletes,” Gunnison Valley Health CEO Rob Santilli said.
Western named Dr. Gloria Beim, who founded Alpine Orthopaedics in 1999, as Head Team Physician. Dr. Blake Clifton of Gunnison Valley Health/gO Orthopedics, who once served as Team Physician for the University of New Mexico, has been named Team Physician at Western. As part of the agreement, the two groups —GVH and Alpine—also agreed to share in the cost of a new Athletic Trainer, who will be dedicated to Western’s athletics programs. Additionally, Gunnison Valley Health has committed to providing on-site physical therapists.
“Adding an additional athletic trainer coupled with our new specialized physical therapists will allow us to better serve NCAA athletes, as well as Mountain and Club Sports participants,” said Gunnison Valley Health Rehab and Athletic Medicine Administrator Todd Ward. “We are now able to offer a standard of care that matches most professional and large college programs.”
“We’re extremely excited about the new partnership,” Beim said. “Blake and I have been working together for two years already and have developed a great professional relationship. We both love covering college sports. I know we will be able to provide the school and its athletes with incredible, seamless care.”
McDonald added that she was impressed by how Western spearheaded the agreement in the interest of both its student-athletes and the Gunnison community.
“Apart from the hospital, Western is perhaps the most influential institution in our community,” McDonald said. “I think it's really commendable that the university is being such a thought leader when it comes to healthcare in our community.”