by Marissa Lorenz
Robert Flake joined the staff as chief financial officer of then Middle Park Medical Center in September 2015. At the time, the hospital and district were struggling, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and, on occasion, having no more than one operational day’s worth of cash-on-hand, as recalled by Dr. Thomas Coburn at the recent Hospital Foundation Annual Dinner.
Enter Flake. He first came to Kremmling with the mission of restoring the financial health and stability to the hospital district and its facilities. However, he served as CFO for less than a year before transitioning into the position of CEO in June 2016. There, he was determined to see that mission through and to expand the ability of the organization to serve the health needs of Grand County.
“He really had a vision for Middle Park Health and the community,” recalls Tiffany Freitag, Director of Community Relations and Medical Staff Coordinator. “He was a primary force behind all that we have accomplished in the last four years.”
She recounts some of the major achievements, including expanding both availability of services and the facilities that provide them. In September 2017, the organization would oversee the opening of an urgent care and family practice clinic in Winter Park, stretching the non-profit’s reach the farthest east it had ever been in the county. In 2018, two full-time surgeons would be added to staff, one in general surgery and one in orthopedics, where there had previously been only a visiting surgeon. “We can now offer joint replacements in Grand County,” Freitag continues.
“Hip, knee and shoulder replacements are being done right here.”
As financial well-being continued to improve, so could capabilities continue to increase, ushering in a flurry of advance in 2019. In March of 2019, Middle Park Health took over management of Cliffview Assisted Living Center in Kremmling, rejuvenating a much-needed community resource, filling empty rooms and increasing comfort and satisfaction among residents. In May, they opened the Wellness Center in Kremmling, providing for space and activities for the health of all ages and, ultimately, freeing building space that would permit the West Grand School District to open their new Early Childcare Center. In July, a new family practice clinic was opened in Grand Lake, partnering with the Town and Grand Lake Fire Protection District to increase both clinic and emergency response services. Long-time efforts for new facilities in Kremmling finally came to fruition as a design was accepted and the project contracted out, with initial remodel mitigation and demolition efforts already completed. And just last month, MPH closed on land in Fraser for a new hospital build.
“Robert was a big believer in keeping services in the county for those who live here,” explains Freitag. “He didn’t want residents to have to travel for services, both basic and advanced. His vision extended as far as providing infusion and oncology services in county, something that we will continue to work toward as a couple-year plan.”
Recently however, Flake was facing some health decisions of his own and finally made the decision to leave Middle Park Health. He announced his retirement in September.
“We are very sad to see him go,” says Freitag. “He really helped turn our situation around at a critical time.” Board Member Bernie Murphy echoes those sentiments. “On behalf of the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors, I want to thank Robert Flake for his hard work and dedication to Middle Park Health, our staff, and the communities we serve. Under Robert’s incredible leadership and vision, Middle Park Health has grown substantially and become a stronger-than-ever organization, all the while continuing to provide exceptional healthcare to the residents and visitors of Grand, Jackson and Northern Summit Counties.”
With Mr. Flake’s departure, Dr. Tom Coburn is currently serving as interim chief executive director. The Hospital District will begin a search for a new CEO, although neither the opening nor the process has yet been announced.
The community will be kept abreast of all decision-making and actions that will lead to the next phase of local health care in Grand County.