Back in 2007, the Denver Post's Jim Spencer was downsized right out of his plum metro-columnist's gig -- and months after landing a job as the communication director for the University of Colorado Denver's School of Medicine, he was still publicly lamenting the way he was jettisoned from his beloved career. So imagine his satisfaction when he was able to force the Post to publish a correction about a Wednesday graphic identifying UCD's med school atop a list of state entities that flew the most at taxpayer expense. Turns out the flights in question were paid for by hospitals, not you and me -- info the Post had a month ago according to the release below, which Spencer sent to the paper and plenty of other media agencies. Wonder if he's still smiling.
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The story in the Denver Post did not include information explaining the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine use of the state plane. The medical school provided the information to the Denver Post more than a month ago. The trips medical school doctors made on the state plane were to fly to rural parts of Colorado to treat cancer patients in areas where they are few, if any, oncologists. The hospitals involved, not the taxpayers, paid for the trips.
Here is the text of the statement provided to the Denver Post on Sept. 10. The School of Medicine requests that you include this statement in any reporting you do about the medical school's usage of the state plane.
Statement on the use of state aircraft to fly medical oncologists to serve cancer patients in Montrose and Alamosa:
The University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine sends several of its faculty members to Montrose and Alamosa on a rotating basis each week to treat cancer patients because a shortage of medical oncologists exists in remote parts of Colorado. These physicians fly on state aircraft operated by the Colorado State Patrol. The state patrol sets the charter fees and schedules these flights. The medical school reimburses the state patrol for every flight and, in turn, submits invoices for reimbursement from the two hospitals with whom it contracts to provide cancer treatment. These hospitals, the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center and Montrose Memorial Hospital, ultimately pay for the cost of the air travel.
If the medical school's oncologists did not go to Montrose and Alamosa, cancer patients from those areas would have to travel long distances to get treatment.
Most of the medical oncologists who travel to Montrose and Alamosa have clinics in Denver where they see patients four days a week. This makes it impractical, if not impossible, for them to drive hundreds of miles to Montrose or Alamosa, provide cancer treatment for a day, and drive hundreds of miles back.