How does taking Dr. Lisa Zwerdlinger’s practice into St. Vincent Health actually make health care better in Leadville/Lake County? The clinic at St. Vincent’s felt independent, but in my opinion may not have been since they’ve hired Dr. Zwerdlinger for all the high level positions at St. Vincent’s (hospitalist, medical director, etc.).

It seems to be a conflict of interest when you purchase a facility from someone you’re paying already. (And, if this property was given, what’s the “tit for tat?”). This merger seems to make our choices in Leadville even less than they were before. For those of us who don’t care for Dr. Zwerdlinger’s care, we have to go out of county. Why wasn’t there an open job search for doctors for positions at St. Vincent Health?

So, thank you St. Vincent Health Board of Directors — I’m assuming that you, as our community’s voice, had a part in this decision — for not considering all of your constituents’ concerns. Was there a public meeting or survey? If so, I never heard of it or saw it.

I’ve gotten my health care at Summit Community Care Clinic (SCCC) next to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Frisco for over three years and have transferred all my records there. I did so because St. Vincent’s clinic kept changing my providers; I went through three since moving here nine years ago. Granted, I got spoiled by having a family doctor (now a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine emeritus professor) for 30 years, and one of his students when he retired, until I moved here.

However, when I had my first physical at SCCC, I saw my provider, had labs done, spoke with a diabetes educator, and got referred for a Dexa Scan, a mammogram, and mental health provider — all in my first visit with a myriad of care providers on their team. SCCC also provides services in our Lake County school system. They work with those that have no insurance. 

I encourage my friends and neighbors who don’t like the narrowing down of our health care options in Lake County to consider both Summit and Chaffee counties. It’s my understanding that a new clinic has opened in Buena Vista that is associated with the hospital in Salida.

I wish the decision to merge St. Vincent Health and Rocky Mountain Family Practice was made with more transparency. If I had choices of health care in this community where I live, I wouldn’t have to drive so far. However, I get the best care I’ve experienced in Colorado at SCCC.

Annie Livingston-Garrett



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