Junction physician appointed to state health care board

Local family physician Dr. David West has written four letters to President Barack Obama outlining his concerns about America’s health-care system.

“I joke with my friends that unfortunately the president hasn’t called me yet,” West said.

Gov. Bill Ritter, on the other hand, has a place for West to serve. On Monday, West, the part-time physician and president of Health System Solutions, was officially appointed to the three-person Colorado Health Care Community Board.

His term runs until Nov. 20, 2011.

“Anytime somebody selects you it should be viewed as an honor, and I take it as such,” West said.

The Health Care Community Board reviews applications from health-care professionals who want their student loans repaid. The board West now serves on recommends to CollegeInvest who should participate in the loan repayment program.

In exchange for loan repayment, the selected health professionals commit to work in Colorado communities where there aren’t enough health-care providers.

Being on the board doesn’t give West the chance to change health-care policy, which he spends most of his time researching and working on, he said. Being on the Health Care Community Board may give him the chance to bring more family physicians to western Colorado, where there is a shortage.

West is the only Western Slope member of the board. His first board meeting is Thursday.

“My big belief in our health-care system is that we lack primary care physicians overall, and we really lack them in rural areas,” said West, who has been a family physician in western
Colorado for nearly 30 years. “I hope to steer some of these scholarships to people who are truly going to rural practice sites.”

West graduated from UCLA Medical School in 1975. He did his residency at the University of Colorado before moving to Grand Junction in 1978.


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