Learn about hospital plan
I was very impressed by Sherrie S. Cutler’s letter to the editor, titled “City needs to scrutinize hospital proposal,” in The Aspen Times on April 1. The letter raised a broad spectrum of basic questions about the Aspen Valley Hospital expansion and renovation. But it gave people a wrong impression that the City Council approved such a project without knowing those basics.
I attended some of the presentations during the approval process of Phase II of the project. A few things I learned from those meetings are: The design team the hospital acquired included experts and experienced professionals from hospital planning, architecture and engineering fields; design alternatives were prepared after the analysis of existing conditions, including hospital overall operations, site, etc.; and the general contractor is specialized in medical-facility construction.
The writer also questioned the phasing of the project. I also have learned that some others even suggested that the community was fooled into supporting the project and forced to accept Phases III and IV because the emergency room was in the last phase.
First, the hospital cares about its neighbors and welcomes all input from the community. The hospital hired an independent community liaison to meet neighbors, to collect information and to bring it to the design team for solutions before the beginning of construction. I believe that the hospital will continue to do so.
Second, project phasing was prepared by those professionals based upon the existing conditions and needs of expansion. The design team did explain such analysis and decisions in detail during the presentations and approval processes.
A key consideration of phasing was to provide undisturbed, high-quality health care to the community during the construction. It explains, partially, why this expansion and renovation cost so much and why the support of our community is crucial.
To provide undisturbed health care during the construction requires a systematic approach of moving, renovating and building certain parts of the project. It needs someone who truly understands the hospital operations. It requires careful separation between construction areas and medical services. It takes a longer time to finish the work. Two years of construction has proved that the approach is very successful.
According to a recent survey conducted by The Aspen Times, more than 80 percent of the people who participated support the completion of the project. I encourage everyone to get involved and attend the upcoming council meetings, learn about the project thoroughly and then make their own informed and wise decisions.