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Hospital feels holiday crunch

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

More skiers, more shoppers, more drivers, more partiers.

And that translates to more accidents and illnesses.

Aspen’s tourist industry might celebrate the crowds that came with a busy holiday season, but the local medical community isn’t quite as pleased. Traffic in and out of Aspen Valley Hospital over the past few days has been high, officials said, resulting in busy patient wards and a request to Glenwood’s hospital for assistance.

Though the hospital’s various care wards have become unusually crowded, spokeswoman Ginny Dyche stressed that AVH will never turn away patients in dire need of medical attention.

“Even though our hospital is very busy and we’re almost to capacity, we do continue to accept patients to our emergency department,” Dyche said. “We don’t want people to feel they can’t receive treatment … We certainly can see them in the emergency department and can stabilize them with the appropriate treatment.”

Though the ER is open for business, other areas of the hospital are requesting a close look at patient priority. On Tuesday, AVH requested that downvalley, noncritical patients ? cases from Basalt and surrounding areas that did not require immediate emergency treatment, for example ? be transported to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

“We have asked Basalt Ambulance, if appropriate, to take noncritical patients to Valley View if possible, just so that we can maintain our ability to admit patients who really need to be admitted,” Dyche said. “It’s always nice to have a couple of beds available.”

The three beds that make up the AVH intensive care unit are currently occupied, and other areas of the hospital are also hopping.

“We are very busy,” Dyche said. “Our ICU is full, and our patient care unit is almost to capacity.”

But Dyche also described the hospital’s hectic holiday situation as “dynamic.” Patients are constantly being discharged, she said, freeing up beds for those in need.

Why the sudden rush for the Aspen medical community?

Patrollers of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s four hills aren’t reporting an extraordinary amount of injuries this week, despite the swarm of skiers on the slopes, Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said. Dyche agreed, reporting that the illnesses and injuries suffered by the current roster of AVH patients seem to run the gamut.

“We have a variety of medical conditions, as well as the usual ski injuries,” Dyche said.

The crowded hospital dilemma, Dyche said, is just a reflection of the bustling holiday season.

“I think, mainly, that it’s a busy time of year when there are a lot of people in town,” she said. “It’s likely we’re going to have at least some of those sick or injured.”

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]


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