TELLURIDE – After 20 years of being Telluride’s “Town Doc” in his private Telluride Family Practice, David Homer, M.D., a mainstay of Telluride’s health and wellbeing, announced this week he’s closing his practice and moving on to a new position in Norwood where he can dedicate himself to a health care model.
Homer has accepted a full-time position as medical director at the Uncompahgre Medical Center in Norwood and on March 30, Telluride Family Practice will close permanently. Serving an average of 4,000 patient visits a year, Homer has watched about 80,000 patients walk through his door over the past 20 years. To say he knows Telluride inside and out is an understatement, and he said his decision to close his private practice is bittersweet.
“It’s special being a family doctor in a small town for more than a generation,” Homer said on Monday. “I am starting to see two and three generations of the same family. Really, I’m not going anywhere – I love Telluride. I am just telling people I am moving to a bigger, better facility in Norwood.”
The Uncompahgre Medical Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center and is one of 15 in Colorado aimed to offer preventative and primary care to the underinsured and uninsured.
“These health care centers take care of 10 percent of the people in Colorado,” Homer said. “I started working there in mid-May and it’s kind of become a passion of mine. I really think the health care model at UMC is probably a part of the solution for our health care crisis. I have kind of embraced their mission.”
As a Federally Qualified Health Center, Homer said UMC serves about 40 percent of patients who have a commercial health insurance provider, about 30 percent of patients who are underinsured and about 30 percent who are have no health insurance.
“The approach in this model is that you proactively address primary and preventative care. It is being shown to actually save money and get people better instead of the fee for service model, which reimburses for episodic care.”
As medical director at UMC, Homer said a majority of his time will be spent giving clinical care but that a certain percent of his time will be used administratively as well. For Homer, his move to UMC (he and his family will continue to live in Telluride) is just the next step in following his passion in medicine.
“I have always followed what interests me,” he said, “and I found that I was just more and more interested in this health care delivery model. It has a top-notch staff and it’s on the forefront of heath care reform. I think we are really in a position to take health care up to the next step.”
The UMC is a big, 10,000-foot facility with a staff of 25, and has a center for mental health care, a four-chair dental clinic and a full-fledged emergency room with a helicopter pad. It’s a patient-centered medical home, Homer said, where patients can get all their medical care under one roof.
Last week, Homer’s office sent 1,000 letters out to his regular patients at Telluride Family Practice informing them of his decision. Any patient who still wants care provided by Homer can see him at UMC.
“What I am telling people is that I am just moving my practice down the road,” he said. “Sign a release of information and get your records transferred to UMC.”
As of March 30,, he will no longer be able provide any care over the phone, due to federal regulations. Homer emphasized that anyone who wants to continue care with him must actually walk through the doors to UMC and fill out its forms for him to regain charge of the health care needs.
Homer will host an open house farewell celebration at his office, 135 W. Colorado Ave., on April 2, from 2-6 p.m. The invitation is open to all.