Dr. Patric Knecht and Aspen Valley Hospital appear to be a perfect match.
The Hospital’s primary care practice, Aspen Valley Primary Care, fills out its slate with Dr. Knecht, who previously practiced family medicine for three years with a diverse patient base in New York. He joins the Aspen and Basalt-based team of doctors that includes internists, family medicine practitioners and a pediatrician.
“This is my first time working directly in the same practice as physicians trained in a specialty other than my own, family medicine,” he says. “I’m excited to be able to draw from and consult with my internal medicine and pediatric colleagues, as we all bring different training and experiences to the practice.”
A Love of Colorado and the Mountains
Another big draw for Dr. Knecht is practicing in the mountains of Colorado, a state with a strong pull on him his entire life.
Growing up in Michigan, his family came to Colorado on ski vacations. At 19-years-old, he moved here to attend Colorado College as an undergraduate, after taking a gap year to become certified as a wilderness EMT.
“I knew I was going to CC and a lot of outdoor activities would be involved, so being certified as a wilderness EMT would be a good skill to have,” he says.
Dr. Knecht studied medicine at Central Michigan College of Medicine and then returned to Colorado for his residency at Fort Collins Family Medicine Residency.
“It’s the mountains, the snow, and the snow melt that are the primary draw — and the people,” he says. “I love to ski, hike, bike, camp, observe nature and wildlife, and generally be outdoors as much as I can be. I love spending time with my wife, Willow, and our dogs, Lyra and Vega.”
Making Connections — in New York and Aspen
Dr. Knecht spent three years in New York while Willow worked on her PhD in philosophy at Stony Brook University. He served as an assistant professor, and a practitioner in the university’s department of Family, Population & Preventative Medicine.
“Clinically, it was also a great first job out of residency,” he says. “It’s a very large tertiary health system, with access to almost every sub-specialty you can imagine.”
The patient population was very diverse, and many patients were living with chronic conditions. This afforded Dr. Knecht the opportunity to hone his skills in family practice, and consult with accomplished sub-specialists.
“I also had a fantastic mentor, Dr. Jedan Phillips, who really helped me find my way as a junior faculty member and as a practitioner,” Dr. Knecht says. “He was there every step of the way to help make sure I was successful and that patients connected with me.”
He is now having a similar experience at Aspen Valley Primary Care. Dr. Knecht took over the position and patient load from Dr. Kelly Locke, who retired at the end of August.
Sensitivity Training — From His Patients
Dr. Knecht’s New York practice included many LGBTQ+ patients, even though it wasn’t a focus of his family doctor training.
“There was a big need to provide quality care to this patient population, and unfortunately there were not a lot of doctors who were willing to provide quality care to these groups,” he says. “It kind of spread by word of mouth that I was LGBTQ+ friendly, and it became a huge part of my practice.”
Dr. Knecht says his work with the diverse patient mix in New York made him more sensitive to the challenges that historically marginalized groups face on a daily basis. Since then, he recognizes the barriers that exist for them in getting quality healthcare services. The experience, and his Spanish fluency, sets him up to work with the Spanish-speaking residents of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Dr. Knecht describes his style as a doctor as “casual and caring.” He likes to be on a first name basis with patients. The doc guides them to make informed decisions about their health and their options, without being demanding or paternalistic.
He sees primary care as a critical link in his patients’ health. Primary Care focuses on managing straightforward clinical conditions and helping patients avoid common chronic conditions.
“In family practice, my general goal is to do simple things, extraordinarily well,” he says. “And I share Aspen Valley Hospital’s vision of fostering our community as the healthiest in the nation.”