AVH proposes docs’ offices again | AspenTimes.com

AVH proposes docs’ offices again

John Colson

In a renewed effort to bring doctors closer to where they do much of their work, Aspen Valley Hospital is asking area physicians whether they’d be interested in office space in an expanded hospital building.The move, said AVH Chief Executive Officer David Ressler, is part of the hospital administration’s broader effort to expand and modernize the hospital facilities.”I’m looking for anybody who is an active member of our medical staff,” Ressler said Monday, after confirming he sent out letters to local physicians last week.The hospital staff, along with the HLM Design architectural firm, has been working on a Master Facilities Plan that will include upgrades and increased square footage for just about every aspect of the hospital’s operations. One exception is the medical records department, which is in the process of computerization and is expected to require less space in the future.Ressler, who has been credited with pulling the hospital out of a financial crisis, emphasized that his inquiry is not a revival of an earlier plan to build a separate office building for area doctors.Rather, it is one possible use for “shell space” at the western end of the hospital’s building envelope. Although the expansion and modernization plans are still in the formative stage, the new building likely will have a considerable amount of unused space on one end.Hospital administrators plan to give the hospital board a clearer picture of at least one portion of the expansion, the obstetrics unit, in September. And in October or November, a plan for the expansion in general, including costs and square footage amounts for the various departments, will be presented.Ressler acknowledged that an earlier attempt to build a separate medical office building prompted controversy, based largely on budgetary concerns.The hospital received permission from Pitkin County for the office building in 1997. It would have included 18,625 square feet of office space on the main floor, underground parking, a 1,200-square-foot detox center and 12 affordable-housing rental units on the second floor.It also called for 10 senior housing units attached to the assisted living facility on the hospital campus and seven employee townhomes. A controversial pharmacy was pulled from the plans shortly before commissioners approved the proposal.In all, the project would have added 65,678 square feet to the hospital’s 19-acre campus.In 2000, the development rights for that office building were to expire, and hospital administrators tried to revive the project. But they failed to come up with a plan that would work financially.According to one hospital estimate at the time, the employee housing for a $12 million hospital office building would have cost an additional $4 million – money the hospital did not have.A second attempt to create office space for doctors came in 2003, when the hospital expressed interest in leasing 10,000 square feet at Obermeyer Place, the massive mixed-use project nearing completion adjacent Rio Grande Park. But the hospital pulled out of the project in April 2004 due to financial woes.John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com

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