We have a chance
to improve the way medical care is organized in the primary-care
physician's office. Really! Patients can participate in their
medical care. This could be a model for other clinics in our
country. Let's make it work right here in Durango.
For the past 12 months, eight concerned citizens and doctors have
been meeting weekly to establish the Durango Health Collaborative.
This was in response to a critical local shortage of primary-care
physicians last summer.
The Durango Health Collaborative is a nonprofit corporation
registered in the state of Colorado, and is owned by the patients.
It will be run by an elected board of directors. The collaborative
clinic will hire the physicians and other providers.
The clinic will bill insurance companies for the physicians'
services. Collections will help pay the overhead and the providers'
There is a $100-per-person membership fee which is being used to
help with the "start-up" costs. Dues of $240 per year per person
will allow for a wellness clinic, 24/7 nurse access and other
benefits not available at other clinics. Patients can decrease or
increase these dues annually through their board of directors.
During the last two months, there have been four open forums with
as many as 200 people in the audience. An informative TV program was
taped for Durango Community Access Television. Weekly newspaper ads,
a forum at Fort Lewis College and radio announcements have kept the
collaborative in the public's attention.
The Durango Health Collaborative now has 250-plus members but
needs many more. Everyone who hears about the clinic likes
the idea of the patients being involved with their medical care. The
committee often hears, "It's a great idea and I'll join soon." But
the memberships are not mailed in. "I'll wait until it opens," is
another statement heard, but if everyone waits, it will not open.
Some people are waiting for the state of Colorado or the federal
government to solve their medical problems. It will never happen.
The state is bankrupt, and the federal government expects the
Medicare rolls to double in the next 15 years. A
"single-payer" system may be an answer, but it will not happen in
You have a chance now to take control of your primary
medical care and guarantee a physician in the future.
Contrary to popular belief, membership is not limited to Medicare
patients but is open to all self-pay, private insurance and
Medicare patients. Join now. Tell your friends and neighbors
Send your name, address, phone number and a $100 check to:
Durango Health Collaborative, P.O. Box 909, Durango, CO 81302
Dr. John N. Withers is a practicing general surgeon in