AVH in midst of baby boom
Aspen Valley Hospital is expecting to welcome a record-setting number of babies into the world this year, according to AVH staffers.
The fabled stork is likely to drop off some 300 newborns before year’s end, up from 259 last year and 274 in 1997. To date, 260 babies have been born at AVH this year.
“We’ve got 23 mothers due in December, so we’ve got 29 left to deliver this year,” said Teresa Hall, a certified nurse midwife at the Aspen Center for Women’s Health. “We’re swamped, there’s been no off-season … we used to do probably 12 deliveries a month out of this practice, but in the last six months, we’re doing 20, 22, so it’s been a big year. I think it’s just because there are more people here.”
Doctors and nurse midwives at the Aspen Center for Women’s Health and the Aspen-based All Valley Women’s Care oversee just about all the births at AVH, though both practices also maintain facilities in the midvalley area. Collectively, the two practices deliver about 30 babies a month at AVH, according to Linda Roth, nurse manager of obstetrics at the hospital.
“There’s certainly been a slow increase in the number of births here since I came here in 1992,” said Dr. Mallory Harling, obstetrician/gynecologist at All Valley Women’s Care. “I think it may have increased somewhat more rapidly this year because we’re recruiting more obstetrical clients from the midvalley.”
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All Valley Women’s Care opened an affiliate, Midvalley Medical Center, in May 1998.
“I think that’s probably where the increase is coming from,” Harling said. “We’re getting more clients from El Jebel and Carbondale, patients who may have gone to Valley View Hospital [in Glenwood Springs] in the past.”
Similarly, Hall said the Aspen Center for Women’s Health is also witnessing an increase in clients from mid- and downvalley areas.
“I think there are just more families here,” she said, “and I think that increase also coincides with the increase of neighborhoods and nesting grounds – places like Blue Lake.”
Roth said a recent change in state health insurance laws has made the already busy year at the hospital’s obstetrics department even busier.
“In the last two years, state law changed and said that insurance companies have to pay for two nights’ stay for moms,” Roth said. “Prior to that, there was a standard of a one night stay, so while our delivery rate hasn’t increased all that significantly, our patient days have almost doubled.”
In order to keep pace with the increasing patient load, the hospital hired an additional obstetrics nurse in May for the first time in a decade, to bring the total of full-timers up to three, and has made tentative plans to expand the obstetrics department, Roth said.
“We’re looking at remodeling it, so now we’re looking at future birth projections,” Roth said. “We don’t build the unit too small; we expect that we’ll need to add at least three rooms, but we’re wondering whether we should make four new” postpartum-care rooms.
Additionally, the hospital has also hired two new pediatricians, or doctors who specialize in caring for children, Roth said.
“That’s partly because we’re doing more deliveries, but it’s also the result of a lack of pediatricians in Glenwood, so a lot of those patients are being seen at the midvalley clinics,” Roth said.
“We’re expecting a continued increase in births,” Roth added. “A lot of our deliveries are first-time parents too, so it’s likely they’ll have one or two more, so it seems that the pattern will continue to increase, along with increased housing in the valley.”
As for the first Aspen baby born in the new millennium, Roth said the hospital is planning something special to recognize the occasion, though nothing has been finalized yet.
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After 14 years, a lengthy lawsuit by area residents and nearly $4 million in construction costs, a half-mile trail to two school campuses in the Castle Creek Valley was finally completed this week.