A Summit County Health Care Legend Retires

Dr. O on stage 1

Frisco, CO – “I would like to share with you a thought that I have been mulling over the past few months…”  This was the beginning of a letter written by Dr. Oberheide (Dr. O) in May of 1991 to a handful of doctors. The thought was an after hours clinic made up of volunteer providers to provide care for underinsured community members. Dr. O was concerned about a group of people living in Summit County without health insurance “falling through the cracks.” Little did Dr. Oberheide know, and with the help of other key community members, this thought would grow into the Summit Community Care Clinic. Dr. O will retire from the Summit Community Care Clinic on Friday, June 2nd. He leaves behind a winding legacy of health care around Summit County.

Dr. Oberheide, originally from Chicago, was finishing up his residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver when he befriended an orthopedist named Swearingen. Swearingen had recently built a clinic in Summit County and invited Dr. O to work with him as a Family Physician. He agreed and moved to Summit County in 1974. They worked for several years together in the old hospital location in Frisco. In 1982, Dr. O joined a new clinic in Keystone called Snake River Health Services. This clinic expanded services to Dillon, which evolved into a partnership with Vail Summit Orthopedics. This partnership later turned into what is now known as High Country Health Care. Dr. O proceeded to be a partner and a family physician at High Country Health Care until he left the practice eight years ago.

Dr.O handshakeIn 2011 Dr. O came back to the Summit Community Care Clinic, the organization he had started with a letter. Since 1993, when the volunteer clinic went into motion, Dr. Oberheide had volunteered off and on while working full time at High Country Health Care. “When The Clinic started, it was seeing 20 patients per week with only volunteers,” reflected Dr. Oberheide. “I think it financially became unsustainable, so now we take insured patients. Becoming an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center*) was a big thing. There are still uninsured patients, but there are a large percentage of people with Medicare and Medicaid, but our mission has still stayed with the people in the community and making sure they can access healthcare and we have continued to do that.”  On his experience with the Summit Community Care Clinic, he said, “I have just really felt fortunate to be here; it’s a way to give back to the community. Working with the other people who work here has been amazing… working together to bring quality healthcare to the community.”

Dr. O has four sons and is married to his wife, Tina Oberheide, for thirty years. They met in Steamboat. He is looking forward to spending more time with his family in Salida. He’s not sure exactly what he’ll do, but when asked, he responded, “I think it’s likely I’m going to do medicine in some form, but I don’t have any set plans.”

*A Federally Qualified Health Center is an organization that provides comprehensive primary and preventative care, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. It qualifies for funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act, as well as enhanced reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, along with other funding. It must meet certain guidelines including, and not limited to; offer a sliding fee scale and an ongoing quality assurance program.

About the Summit Community Care Clinic
The Summit Community Care Clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center. The Care Clinic began with a few doctors getting together with the vision to offer premium healthcare for everyone; there was a need and they filled it. It is the choice for homegrown health care in Summit County with true roots in our community. Since its inception in 1993, it has grown exponentially and continues to grow with the recent dental expansion, forward thinking integrative care model services, as well as providing essential behavioral health and health education in our schools. The Care Clinic puts the needs of Summit County first. To donate or to learn more, visit SummitClinic.org