Jordan Valley Medical Center was founded in 1983, as a second hospital in the valley owned by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, a Catholic ministry. The original Holy Cross hospital is now Salt Lake Regional Medical Center and was founded in 1875 to serve poor miners. From the beginning, JVMC was staffed by the physicians who would later became Utah Emergency Specialists. UES was always an egalitarian, democratic group where each physician had one vote and equally shared in risk, responsibility, and profit. UES was formed as the doctors moved from being hospital employees to a true, physician-owned group that contracted with the hospital. IASIS, a private hospital corporation, took over JVMC in 1994 and UES was selected to continue to staff the hospital due to their excellent clinical relationship and their leadership positions on the medical staff. As volumes at the hospital gradually grew, the group increased in size. Physicians and their families developed close professional and personal relationships with each other and with the nursing and other staff members of the emergency department.
Dramatic changes in healthcare in the 1990s made it clear that the traditional model of emergency medicine in Utah-high-quality, ethical but small independent groups of physicians-was becoming increasingly vulnerable to takeovers from large, non-physician owned corporations. Emergency physicians all along the Wasatch Front realized that they had been practicing emergency medicine in an almost ideal medical and professional environment. Excellent patient care, good relations with hospital administrators, and autonomous decision-making had been the norm. However, in order to maintain this environment, it became clear that these groups would have to become larger.
By 1999, the pieces had been put into place and four formerly independent groups voluntarily banded together to form Emergency Physicians Integrated Care (EPIC). Its unique structure was its strength. When it came time to negotiate with payors and insurance companies, the group could negotiate as a large group and benefit from economies of scale. However, the decisions about practice styles, hiring, scheduling, staffing, and division of profits remained with each of the smaller groups, now known as “divisions.” Truly the best of both worlds.
The UES division continued to add members over the years with most doctors staying until retirement, creating low turnover and long-term relationships between members and with hospital administrators and the medical staff. Six members of the group have served as medical staff president over the years. In 2003, as volumes grew, advance practice providers were hired and began to work alongside the physicians at Jordan Valley.
In 2014, when IASIS decided to build a new hospital in rapidly growing Lehi, Utah, UES was their go-to group for the contract because of the excellent work that had been done at the Iasis flagship hospital, Jordan Valley Medical Center. In 2015, UES added six physicians in one year, far and away its largest period of growth since its founding, in order to staff the brand-new Mountain Point Medical Center. In 2017, IASIS was subsequently purchased by Boston-based Steward Health Care with whom we continue to work closely to provide exceptional patient care. In 2018-2019, EPIC joined another democratic emergency physician group based in Colorado. The joint company is now called Carepoint Health.
Group members continue to enjoy ideal professional relationships, an excellent payor mix, the benefits of being part of Carepoint, and the benefits of ownership with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. As a general rule, members consider this to be our best job and our last job.
Next, the benefits of being in a truly democratic emergency medicine group.