Vail Health Magazine 2013 - page 59

a luxury compared to what he had to work
with in the early days. But Dr. Steinberg can
also pat himself on the back for his role in the
continued evolution of the hospital into what
it is today.
Vail Associates donated the land for the new
hospital on West Meadow Drive, its current site,
and the clinic moved there in 1967. It was Dr.
Steinberg who had the foresight at the time to
realize the clinic needed a second floor. It might
not have needed it at the time, but Dr. Steinberg
knew it would.
They put a daycare center on the second
floor in the beginning, but eventually it would
become part of the hospital.
Quality care
Dr. Steinberg said the Vail medical center has
always been able to attract great talent. It may
be a small community hospital, but its doctors
are not small-town doctors.
Once in the new West Meadow Drive loca-
tion, Dr. Steinberg said the clinic continued to
bring in new doctors. It also began bringing
in third-year family practice residents for a
month to expose them to family practice and
“It became the most sought-after family
practice rotation,” Dr. Steinberg said.
He recalls several doctors who came through
Vail who went on to become extremely success-
ful elsewhere, too. One went on to become one
of the best cardiologists in Boston, and another
to Atlanta, and another in Jackson Hole.
The beauty of Vail, though, was that many
successful doctors also wanted to stay.
“We had some exceedingly good doctors
that came — it set the pace, I think, for Vail in
the future and where you are now,” he told Dr.
Gray. “We’ve been very, very fortunate in Vail
with the quality of doctors we’ve gotten over
the years. There have been so few that didn’t
meet our criteria.”
Gray said that hasn’t changed. The current
medical staff has no problems with competen-
cy, she said.
Safety improvements both on the mountain
and with ski gear have also contributed to dif-
ferences in the types of injuries at the hospital.
Dr. Steinberg remembers the leather boots and
old wood skis, as well as boot-packing as the
only on-mountain grooming to speak of.
“In those days, 20 percent of injuries off
the mountain were lacerations,” he said. “The
majority of factures were ankle and tib-fib
(tibia-fibula) fractures.”
Dr. Steinberg recalls some of the bad lacer-
ations that likely would never be seen today
because of safety improvements — such as one
person who came in because his ski tip had
popped his eye ball out.
Gray said the use of protective eye and head
gear has made cases like that practically disap-
pear. She said the hospital still sees a lot of the
tibia injuries, but there are more knee injuries —
ACL and MCL, specifically — now among skiers.
With snowboarding, a sport that didn’t yet
exist when Dr. Steinberg first began practicing
in Vail, Gray said there are more wrist injuries
and sometimes shoulder injuries.
Another evolution that makes Gray’s expe-
rience as a Vail doctor differ from Steinberg’s is
that Vail is now a year-round destination. She
said because of the summer recreation, the hos-
pital remains quite busy with mountain biking
and other injuries.
Both Gray and Steinberg agree that Vail has
the best of both worlds — a small-town, com-
munity feel but with world-class health care.
“I think Vail is a nice hybrid,” Dr. Gray said.
“We certainly aren’t the frontier medicine
that (you were) used to practicing, but we’re
still able to maintain the small-town feel that
many of us look for.”
The president of the
Medical Staff, Dr.
Jamie Gray moved to
Vail with her family
seven years ago.
“It was real frontier
medicine, shall we say.
We had to make quick
decisions and live with
them, and fortunately we
saved most of the people.”
—Dr. Tom Steinberg
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