Gerson: I can take AVH into the future | AspenTimes.com

Gerson: I can take AVH into the future

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Elaine Gerson says she has a vision for the future of Aspen Valley Hospital, and that she has the experience and education to make that vision a reality.

Gerson, 41, is a registered nurse and manager of the cardiology clinic at Aspen Valley Hospital. She also does legal consulting work for physician group practices.

“Health care today is a lot more complex than it was 20 or 30 years ago,” she said. “The hospital has to abide by the regulations that bombard health care institutions, and that’s what I spend my legal work doing.”

Gerson helps physician groups comply with the law. She is a member of the American Bar Association’s health lawyers division, and the National Health Lawyers Association.

She is licensed to practice law in Texas, Ohio and Colorado, and she does business-practice evaluations for a client in Idaho. She has a degree in nursing, an MBA in health care administration, and a law degree.

“My education, experience and interests are all in health care governance, and the legal aspects of health care,” she said. “I have a skill set not readily available on the present board that I can bring to the board.”

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Gerson believes the hospital is faced with several issues, including: a consensus among employees that there is “no sense of accountability amongst the leadership,” the hospital’s current lack of a strategic plan or vision, and the hospital’s difficulties with billing procedures.

Regarding accountability, Gerson said she wrote a letter to the board of directors about some of her concerns about the hospital, and never heard back until she brought the issue up at a recent candidate forum.

“If a constituent writes a letter to someone on the board … the least that constituent is owed is a call back, even if they’re not going to deal with the problem,” she said. “I believe someone needed to call me, and say, ‘We got the letter, we’re concerned and we’re addressing it,’ or, ‘We understand the administration fixed the problem. Did they do OK and please keep us informed.'”

As for the hospital’s strategic plan, Gerson said the hospital must take into consideration where health care is going in the future, and pair that with what the community needs.

“We need to get a feel for what the community has a desire for. Do they want a detox center? I think we need to know,” she said. “It should be the board’s mission to have an understanding of what the community’s needs are, and to prioritize those looking at the costs and benefits of each one of those. When the vision is set, we can work on the strategic plan.”

On the topic of billing, Gerson said she has a “working understanding of how the billing process should occur,” and the ability to speak the language of the insurance industry.

“Every state has a statute that requires them to pay insurance claims in 30 days or they are subject to interest. I’m not sure if the hospital knows that or if they’re utilizing that,” she said. “I hope I’ll be able to maximize our revenue, decrease outstanding accounts received and make sure that billing goes out correctly.”

Gerson said she is prepared to quit her nursing position at the hospital if she is elected, since state law prohibits hospital staff members from sitting on the board. But, she said, as a current employee she is aware of many of the challenges the board will face.

“[The Phase III remodel] doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and we’re in crowded space in the hospital,” she said. “We need to move on, and I’d like to see that happen.”

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