AVH expansion put on hold
ASPEN Alarmed by cost estimates for planned expansion and upgrades, Aspen Valley Hospital last week pulled back from an expected announcement of the general scope of the multi-year project.According to hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche, the hospital board was to have seen the master facilities plan in its entirety at a board meeting May 15.But the week before the presentation, Dyche reported, it was pulled from the board agenda by hospital CEO David Ressler.”With the receipt of the most recent preliminary cost estimates,” she wrote in an e-mail sent to The Aspen Times, “we found that the range of the conceptual estimates is too broad.”She wrote that the hospital administration would not release the range of estimates to the press or the public at this time, because “we feel that we need to obtain more definitive estimates.”Part of the reason for the overly broad range of cost estimates, Dyche wrote, is believed to be “due to the high cost of construction in the valley, the need for contractors with specific health care facility expertise, and the complexity of the Master Facilities Plan.”The administration will work with what Dyche termed the “design planning team on a re-examination of our approach to the cost analysis.”Dyche declared that the delay is “a small price to pay for this long-term commitment. Remember that the plan is intended to address our community’s health care needs for the next 20 years.”Board president John Sarpa concurred, saying there is no maximum figure, explaining that the board and administration both were not satisfied with both “range and price” as given by the planners.”It’s just not ready yet,” he said of the master plan.As outlined at meetings over the last year, the master plan will involve expansion of the hospital building, including the addition of a second floor over part of the expanded footprint, and the upgrading of facilities and equipment.At one point, a prior hospital administration had spoken of plans for a $40 million expansion program, but that program never materialized after the hospital’s finances were revealed to be in total disarray, and the board has since scrapped all references to the $40 million concept.In the wake of revelations about the hospital’s finances, which came in 2002, the hospital district has replaced one administration with another, district voters elected a new slate of board members and the hospital’s finances, in particular the billing system, have been overhauled.Sarpa said he was not sure when the master plan would be ready for presentation to the board, but predicted, “not too much longer.”He noted that the administration has been working on the planning for months.The hospital board meets once a month in regular session.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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