San Luis Valley Health is saying good-bye to a key member of their senior leadership, Dr. Gregory McAuliffe, who has been in the position as the Chief Medical Officer since 2009. Greg grew up in Montrose, Colorado and graduated from Colorado State University in 1971 and says, “I always wanted to be a doctor. I don’t remember wanting anything else.” He graduated from the medical school Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he learned to speak Spanish. He completed his rotating internship at the University of Maryland and his residency at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. He practiced for three and a half years in a private partnership in the suburbs of Baltimore as an Internist. His interests have always been in Internal Medicine, never in specialized medicine.
In 1988, Dr. McAuliffe moved to Alamosa to work in the Professional Clinic (PC), a multispecialty practice and joined Drs. Scott Harrod and Steve Sunderman in the Internal Medicine Department. The building was owned by the hospital, but the practice was owned by the doctors. They took turns taking call and rounding and staffing the emergency department. Luckily within six months of coming on board the hospital hired its own ER doctors and life got better. In 1994, his first wife Alison passed away. During this time, the doctor group expanded and built the Professional Services (PS) clinic on Stuart Avenue in Alamosa, where they added Outpatient Surgery, lab, x-ray, OB/GYN, ENT, family practice and other specialties. In the late 1990’s the private-practice-doctor-owned model was in transition, as many of the younger doctors did not want to invest as a business owner. It was clear this model wasn’t sustainable and that it was increasingly more difficult to negotiate contracts with the insurance companies. Greg and his wife Veronica left for employment at CentraCare Health System in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 2000 and were able to work in the doctor-employed environment.
In 2004, the PS clinic integrated with the hospital in Alamosa and four years later, Dr. McAuliffe and Vee returned to the San Luis Valley. Now working for the SLV Regional Medical Center, Greg returned to practice in Internal Medicine. He had survived head and neck cancer and was even more committed to health care than ever before, now with the perspective of being a patient. In 2009, Russ Johnson, former CEO, asked Dr. McAuliffe to fill a new leadership position of the Chief Medical Officer. “It was a great, tremendous learning experience,” recalled Greg. “My role became one of helping providers to see the broadest picture of health care delivery and ensuring that the perspective of the people delivering the care is always a part of the decision making process. Lessons in life take time and reflection. I’m big on taking pause and having time for self-reflection, as that is the only way for a person to grow.” He felt like his new role was one that wasn’t about authority as much as it was about communication, being a good listener, being a problem-solver, and inspiring others. He started out 50% of the time as a clinician and the other half in administration, but as the role grew, he finally devoted all of his time to administrative medicine.
During his tenure as CMO, he was honored to serve on an American Hospital Association (AHA) Committee for Clinical Leadership. He provided clinical perspective on policies and procedures, revamped the peer review process, led the recruitment efforts and also facilitated the Provider Leadership Council (PLC). He also oversaw the work of the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) and supervised the day to day activities of the Medical Staff Office and the provider credentialing process. “From this national viewpoint, I was able to put things in perspective and found out that we were also ahead of some of our larger peers in our health care delivery.” In 2014 he was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to compete a term on the Colorado Medical Board, and in 2017, he and Vee received the distinguished Adamson Award from the SLV Health Foundation.
One thing Dr. McAuliffe recommends to new providers is to get out in the community and get involved. In 1988 when he first moved here, he remembers being asked by the general manager of public service to come and give a talk to the employees. He went to their location at lunchtime and talked about ways to protect your skin and various types of skin lesions. “From that one hour luncheon, my practice took off and I’ve never looked back. I cared for some of those employees and their families through all these years and still consider them my friends.” Most of us in Alamosa also consider Greg our friend, and we are going to miss his presence as he retires to Arizona. CEO Konnie Martin added, "We owe Greg a tremendous thank you for his service to our community and organization. His wisdome, patience, and contributions will truly be missed."
Click here for Vee's Good-Bye Story.