Mountaintop Medicine from Estes Park Health: Specialized physicians take care of EPH hospital patients

View Episode on Blubrry »

If an accident or an illness lands you in the hospital at Estes Park Health, our hospitalists are ready to get you better and get you home.

“A hospitalist is a physician that’s supervising and in charge of care of hospitalized patients,” explained Dr. Christopher Ryan who is one of three hospitalists who take care of patients in the inpatient unit at EPH.

“We see the kinds of bread-and-butter medicine that can be taken care of at a smaller hospital. So, infections of all sorts, injuries, acute bleeding issues, worsening of heart failure, strokes,” Dr. Ryan said. “I love interacting with patients in a very acute setting, being able to see them start to finish. Coming to the hospital sick and being able to at least go home and finish off the recovery process at home.”

Most of the patients are admitted to the hospital through the emergency room. Others, like Warren Wilkewitz, have gotten care or surgery at other facilities and are transferred to Estes Park Health to recover and rehabilitate close to home.

“I’m here to get rehab and treatment of a foot,” Wilkewitz stated. “I have had problems with circulation. I have arterial insufficiency to the foot that has caused an infection and some gangrene that forced an amputation. And so, they’ve taken half the foot.”

Wilkewitz was admitted to Estes Park Health to try and get his wound to heal. If that goes well, he’ll avoid an amputation below the knee.

“So, the stakes are very high,” he noted. “And I’m trusting the care here in Estes because they’re very much dedicated to getting the kind of objective and result that we’re wishing for. We’ve got a good plan.”

Dr. Paul Fonken is one of the hospitalists taking care of Warren.

“One of the things this hospital is very committed to is taking care of the patients from our community,” Dr. Fonken stressed. “One of my favorite things is continuity. I love the relationships with patients. Many of the patients I know from the community. And then I get to care for them for their whole stay. It is satisfying to see somebody get better quickly. We get to work with them multiple days in a row, see them get better, and then discharge them to home.”

Dr. Kenneth Epstein is the other hospitalist who takes care of patients who need to stay at Estes Park Health. He says being a hospitalist allows him to concentrate on cases from start to finish.

“I can focus all my knowledge on hospital-based problems,” Dr. Epstein emphasized. “They are my focus. My only focus. It’s a short-term continuity. It may only be three or four days. But I spend all that time and I really get to know the patient and the families. In a town like Estes Park, often I see the same patients, same families come back over the years. So there really is some continuity. They know me. I know them when they come to the hospital. The advantage of admitting them here at Estes Park is they don’t have to go down the hill. We can keep them in their local community. In terms of family, being here in town is huge.”

Wilkewitz added that having a hospital in Estes Park is convenient for him and his loved ones.

“My family is able to come easily rather than going to the valley to visit me,” he said. “And I’ve been impressed with the way this staff has worked with the surgeon and the staff at the larger hospital. And I feel that I’m getting the kind of care that I need and would hope for. I’m very, very grateful.”

For professional and personalized hospital care close to home, think Estes Park Health.