From Dream to Reality: the origins of the little clinic next to Aspen Medical Center

When Dr. Andrew Ropp, co-founder and Medical Director of Aspen Medical Center, tells his patients that they can get acupuncture and massage at a little clinic next door, some are still surprised. Aspen Wellness opened a year after Aspen Medical Center and is one of Santa Fe’s most affordable places for these complementary and alternative medical treatments.

Offering both Eastern and Western approaches to health care had been a goal of Dr. Ropp’s since his early days of training in New York over 20 years ago. As a student, he founded the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Club at his medical school. He organized speakers on a whole host of topics such as Nutrition, Homeopathy, and his personal favorite, the topic of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After graduation and his medical residency in Family Medicine, he worked at the Hopi Health Care Center(HHCC) in Arizona. During his three years there, he became licensed in acupuncture and utilized his skills in the HHCC’s pain clinic for several hours per week in addition to his regular duties at the clinic. He saw first hand how powerful acupuncture could be to help people manage pain and how much people appreciated having a non-pharmaceutical option for pain relief.

Since moving to Santa Fe with his family in 2006, Dr. Ropp has concentrated his career on family medicine and operating Aspen Medical Center for primary and urgent care. But his dream of a clinic that provided the option of acupuncture to patients was realized with the help of his wife, Rachel Ropp, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM).

Rachel had always been attracted to Asian cultures. Having grown up in an Asian suburb of Los Angeles, she was inspired to study Chinese, volunteer, and travel in Asia during her college years. Many years later, after seeing her husband study for his acupuncture certification, she chose to come to Santa Fe and attend Southwest Acupuncture College and gain her Masters in Oriental Medicine. After running a community acupuncture clinic in Albuquerque for 4 years, she decided to join her husband at Aspen Medical Center, opening Aspen Wellness next door to his clinic.

Chinese Medicine has been practiced for over 3000 years and consists primarily of herbal medicine and acupuncture. In general, acupuncture is the practice of placing very thin, painless needles at various locations in the skin with the purpose of balancing the body’s energy which has been shown to ease pain. Acupuncture can be used for pain anywhere in the body and also for stress, digestive problems, allergies, insomnia, general well-being, and even for strengthening the immune system. At Aspen Wellness, Chinese herbal remedies are prescribed for common conditions including stress, anxiety, insomnia, hormonal issues, and even the common cold. Nutritional and lifestyle advice from the Chinese medical perspective is available. Patients at Aspen Wellness appreciate having non-pharmaceutical options to treat their health issues. Aspen Wellness also offers massage by Licensed Massage therapist, Stephanie Salazar.

The goal of Aspen Wellness has always been to offer acupuncture for an affordable price. Pre-pandemic, that meant seeing multiple patients at a time in a common space. These days, each patient is seen in a private space with numerous safeguards to keep everyone safe. Despite the changes, the cost remains low at just $30 per treatment regardless of how many issues are being addressed. We are currently providing acupuncture for the lowest price in Santa Fe.

Aspen Wellness offers appointments Monday – Friday and can make accommodations for people who need to be seen after work hours or on the weekend. Call to schedule an acupuncture treatment with Dr. Rachel Ropp if you have back pain, neck pain, knee or any joint pain, headaches, digestive issues, allergies, stress, anxiety, insomnia, or even if you are just curious to try it and see what acupuncture can do for you. For more information, go to www.aspenwellness.care or call 505-466-5887.

Portrait of a smiling family doctor

What is Primary Care?

What is Primary Care?

Primary care is the backbone of a well-functioning, efficient healthcare system. Primary care providers (PCP’s) can be physicians, physician’s assistants, and/or nurse practitioners who treat adults and children of all ages for their general healthcare needs. Usually the primary care provider (PCP) is the first contact and principal point of continuing care for patients. The PCP also coordinates specialist care that the patient may need. Primary care results in better health outcomes, reduced health disparities and lower spending, by avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital care. PCP’s, acting as guides for your health, are an important component in ensuring that the healthcare system as a whole is sustainable.

Outpatient primary care services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Chronic disease management (e.g. diabetes, asthma, COPD, depression, anxiety, hypertension, back pain, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, etc.)
  • Comprehensive annual wellness visits and physical exams
  • Routine and same-day care for all ages
  • Pap smears
  • Family Planning
  • Immunizations
  • Care coordination
  • Weight management
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Cancer screening
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Laboratory tests

Continuity is a key characteristic of primary care, as patients usually prefer to consult the same practitioner for routine check-ups and preventive care, health education, and every time they require an initial consultation about a new health problem. It is generally recommended to follow up with your PCP at least once a year. PCP’s are like air traffic controllers who can help manage and coordinate care, especially for people with multiple complex medical problems. Therefore, it is always important to follow up with your PCP anytime there is lab work or other studies done, if/when you need medication refills, after seeing a specialist, after an illness or injury, or certainly if there is a major health event in your life such as a hospitalization or surgery. Your PCP needs to remain informed about your health status.

If you do not have your own PCP, Aspen Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico is still taking some new primary care patients on a limited basis. We are always available for your urgent care needs (please see the previous blog for a discussion of urgent care). At Aspen Medical Center, we are here to help you get and stay as healthy as possible.

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

What is urgent care?

What is urgent care?

Urgent care is medical care for an urgent problem that is not life threatening. Examples of life-threatening emergencies include a heart attack or a serious head injury. These require a visit to the Emergency Room (ER). Urgent Care centers such as such as ours, Aspen Medical Center in Santa Fe and Aspen Urgent Care in Espanola, New Mexico, are setup to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life–threatening, but also can’t wait until the next day.


When faced with a medical problem that requires immediate care, it is sometimes difficult to determine if it is truly an emergency, or if it is an urgent care issue.

What is considered an emergency?

Urgent care is not a substitute for emergency care. In general, an emergency medical condition is one that can quickly endanger the life or limb of an individual.

Some examples of conditions requiring a visit to the ER include:

  • Compound or open fracture (bone protruding through skin)

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Fever in a newborn (less than 1 month old)

  • Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding

  • Extensive or severe burns

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Severe chest pain or difficulty breathing

  • Signs of a heart attack (e.g. chest pain lasting longer than two minutes, possibly associated with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and/or pain radiating into the arm or jaw)

  • Signs of a stroke (e.g. sudden numbness, loss of vision, one-sided weakness, slurred speech, or confusion)

Dial 911 without delay for any medical problem that appears to be immediately life-threatening.

ER visits are necessary for true emergencies, such as chest pain that is potentially a heart attack and severe injuries. Minor injuries and illnesses can be evaluated by our urgent care providers.

What conditions are appropriate to treat at an urgent care center?

Urgent health concerns are not considered emergencies but still benefit from prompt evaluation and treatment. Some examples of such conditions include:

  • Accidents and falls

  • Cuts that might require stitches

  • Breathing difficulties (e.g. mild to moderate asthma)

  • Eye irritation and redness

  • Earaches

  • Allergies

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms

  • Sprains, strains, and minor broken bones and fractures

  • Moderate back problems

  • Sore throat or cough

  • Skin rashes and infections

  • Urinary tract infections

  • STD testing

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

The average cost of an ER visit is $2,250 according to insurer Cigna. In contrast, urgent care visits average $170. If one has an urgent care need, it is reasonable to visit an urgent care center first. However, if you are uncertain, it is always best to err on the side of caution and visit the ER if you think you might have a true emergency medical condition.

Aspen Medical Center here in Santa Fe and Aspen Urgent Care in Espanola, New Mexico provide urgent care services seven days a week. Aspen Medical Center is certified by the Urgent Care Association of America. We have x-ray and laboratory services on site. Our commitment to compassionate and convenient patient care ensure that patients with urgent medical needs receive the best medical expertise days, nights, weekends and most holidays.

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director