AVH eyeing sites in and out of Aspen | AspenTimes.com

AVH eyeing sites in and out of Aspen

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

If Aspen Valley Hospital relocates, the new facility may or may not be in the city of Aspen, according to John Sarpa, president of the hospital board.

Sarpa presented an overview of the hospital’s 2004-08 strategic plan to the Aspen City Council on Tuesday and confirmed the board’s desire to look at other locales before moving ahead with what could ultimately be a $40 million renovation of the existing facility.

“We are looking now for sites where we could put a new hospital,” he said. “If there’s one that makes sense, we’re going to take a hard look at it.

“We are very sincere about looking elsewhere.”

The existing AVH campus off Castle Creek Road encompasses about 11 acres. Any new site would need to be 10 to 15 acres in size, according to Sarpa.

The hospital district stretches as far downvalley as Basalt, and Sarpa would not rule out the possibility that the board would consider any promising site within the district’s borders.

A new site would have to be well situated to serve the population centers in both Aspen and Basalt, according to Sarpa, though the hospital’s existing site is far more convenient for Aspenites than Basalt residents.

The ski areas in the upper valley are also a consideration, he added, given the number of injured people in need of immediate care who come off the mountains.

“We don’t want the hospital too far from that,” he said.

The hospital is preparing to undertake the first of $10 million worth of renovations and making plans for a more extensive, $30 million rehab of its existing facility. The board will take a few months to explore other locales before moving ahead with the renovation of AVH, Sarpa said.

As the hospital began planning its renovations, various individuals began suggesting the same idea: It would make more sense to start over than try to remake the existing facility, he explained.

But, whether the hospital will find any other sites that make sense remains to be seen, Sarpa said.

“How many 10-acre pieces of land do you know of that you want to put a hospital on? Not a lot,” he said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]