The Doctor Will See You Now
Art: Jane Mjolsness
Ruth Gooden came to Park City to ski and live in 1985. But in the first few years she lived here, she flew back to her hometown of Philadelphia for medical treatments with doctors she felt comfortable with. “There wasn’t a hospital here,” said Ruth. “The only time I went to a clinic was if I had some minor emergency. Once I sprained my thumb skiing at Alta, and I got some good advice from the clinic here [Park City Family Health Care and Urgent Care Center]. Another time I fell hard on my wrist, and it was put in a cast here.”
When Joe and Morag Totten arrived in Park City with their three children, Morag said they really didn’t have a doctor. “We would go to the Park City Family Health Care and Urgent Care Center for emergencies, like asthma, flu and ear infections. We just walked in and saw whichever doctor was on call.” Today members of the Totten family are patients of Julie Dolan at the Snow Creek Medical Center. “When Rita [Joe and Morag’s 18-year old daughter] injured her ankle playing soccer this summer, the X-ray was done here on a Sunday, which really impressed me. She was then referred to TOSH [The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital] for treatment. I now get my mammograms here, too, at HealthSouth Diagnostic Center.”
In referring to the Park City Family Health Care and Urgent Care Center, both Ruth and Morag are recalling the days when it stood as the only clinic in town, with many medical necessities referred to hospitals, specialty clinics and laboratories in Salt Lake City and elsewhere. Over the past few years, however, new treatment centers, with the ability to handle a variety of injuries and illnesses, have sprung up all over town. In addition to Park City Family Health Care on Bonanza Drive, there are two other family clinics, the Snow Creek Medical Clinic on Kearns Boulevard, and the University of Utah Summit Health Community Clinic on Highway 224. From among these three clinics, patients can seek treatment in the fields of family practice and pediatrics, address women’s and adolescents’ health issues, and get treatment and advice in the areas of sports, wilderness and travel medicine.
Park City Family Health Care and Urgent Care Center has X-Ray technicians and machines on site, can perform aviation and military physicals, give cancer prevention advice, and perform minor surgeries. This clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, and offers same-day appointments in some cases. According to office manager, Brock Place, nighttime urgent care services are provided through a contract with Intermountain Health Care (IHC) from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. at the clinic location on Bonanza Drive.
With a roster of emergency and family practice physicians, Snow Creek Medical Center is also available for walk-in emergency care 365 days a year, and performs on-site orthopedic surgery. Snow Creek Medical Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Summit Health Care Clinic has recently opened an on-site pharmacy. The clinic’s state-of-the-art medical record system, Epic, links the clinic to all others in the University of Utah system, including the hospital at the U of U, according to Patti Colvin, spokesperson for the Summit Clinic. This allows immediate access to a patient’s records at the hospital or other participating clinics. Summit Health Care Clinic’s pharmacy is also linked to Epic, allowing patients to refill prescriptions online. Summit offers language translation services through the University of Utah Hospital, with some examination rooms equipped with speakerphones, or with an on-site interpreter. The clinic’s new Advance Access Scheduling System blocks out a percentage of doctors’ schedules each day for same-day emergency appointments. This allows continuity of care, with patients being able to see their preferred provider, without overloading the physicians’ schedules.
While Ruth Gooden lamented the lack of a hospital when she arrived in Park City almost 20 years ago, plans for a Summit County hospital are now underfoot, through the combined efforts of The Summit Community Hospital Development Foundation (a grassroots committee formed by area physicians and community members in 2000), and IHC. According to Heidi Neuenschwander, spokesperson for IHC, the 25-bed hospital may be completed by 2007. “We’re still trying to identify a location in Quinn’s Junction,” says Neuenschwander. “We hope to have a groundbreaking sometime next year. After that, it will take about 18 months to build.” Two of the main services of the hospital will be in the fields of orthopedics and women’s care.
Opened in April of 2000, first in a mobile van and currently at its permanent Iron Horse Drive location, The People’s Health Clinic offers pediatric, women’s and general adult clinics to members of the Park City community who are uninsured. The clinic provides medical consultations, prescription medications, and free vitamins. The many obstacles to accessing medical care by the uninsured are creatively overcome by the largely volunteer staff of physicians, nurses, laboratory and office workers. Translators are available for limited or non-English speaking patients. In order to accommodate clients with limited resources, and workers who cannot make appointments during the day, evening clinics are offered, and are on a walk-in basis. Additionally, the clinic is located on a public (and free) bus line.
Physical therapists, pain management specialists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, medical spas and sports clinics have all opened doors over the past few years, augmenting the basic medical services provided by the family clinics. Dr. Marshall Ding, an acupuncturist who earned his medical degree at Shanghai University, has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for over 19 years, opening a Park City office in 1999. “I find the people in Park City, and the visitors from outside the area, to be very open-minded about Oriental medicine,” said Dr. Ding. “I treat patients who have chronic internal diseases, such as diabetes, and also people with sports injuries, mostly from winter sports such as skeleton, bobsledding and skiing.”
Former professional mogul skier Mark Moeller, along with his partners Andrea Terwillegar and Megan Williams, opened Alpine Sports Medicine, also in 1999. “I was injured during mogul skiing and went into therapy myself,” said Moeller. “After I finished skiing professionally, I went into physical therapy as a profession.” Alpine Sports Medicine specializes in orthopedic, sports rehabilitation, hand therapy, custom splints, massage therapy and customized wellness and exercise programs. “The best our clinic has to offer is good, personal and individualized care. We don’t try to be the biggest clinic in the community, but we want to be the best,” Mueller said.
HealthSouth Diagnostic Center, located on Sidewinder Drive, is a national health care service provider branch, which makes available MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, ultrasound and mammography screening. “There were no other diagnostic imaging services in Park City,” said Tiffany Tyler, administrator for the center. “Patients had to go to the hospital in Heber or to Salt Lake City for these services. Now all of the family health clinics refer their patients to us.”
Although a prospective mother still has to go to Salt Lake City to have her baby, even that need will be filled when the planned hospital is built. Keeping up with the growth of the town, from a one-clinic locality to a multi-disciplinary center of clinics, family practitioners, and specialists in a multitude of fields, from pediatric to athletic to geriatric, Park City’s medical community has indeed expanded to fill the area’s needs.
Sedona Callahan, a writer and photographer, is grateful to live in Park City — a town that recognizes and fulfills the need for The People’s Health Clinic.