Middlebrook says goodbye | AspenTimes.com

Middlebrook says goodbye

I have appreciated the opportunity to help Aspen Valley Hospital achieve its mission over the last seven-and-a-half years. When I started at AVH in 1996, I was the fifth CEO in five years and there had been a steady stream of red-ink, layoffs and concerns over whether the hospital could even stay afloat.

During my tenure, which I believe is the longest of any AVH CEO, we established consistency, stability and growth. Instead of closing the hospital, or any of its departments, we added more comprehensive programs, services and state-of-the-art technology. We recruited numerous physicians to serve our communities both upvalley and in the midvalley.

AVH grew from a $20 million organization to a $60 million sophisticated enterprise. We acquired the Midvalley Medical Center, housing a low-cost ambulatory surgery center and a host of other medical specialties.

We now provide employment to over 400 people, all of whom help stimulate our economy by spending their dollars locally. We found a way to augment our employee housing inventory by purchasing the Beaumont Lodge and retrofitting it for AVH’s housing needs.

Have there been, and are there still, challenges and issues to overcome? Absolutely. Running a hospital anywhere in the country, and especially in this community, is a daunting task.

Hospital billing is the number one complaint for hospitals in the United States. We certainly have had our share of issues in that arena. While I do believe we have spent a significant amount of time to address the billing issues for the future, I also believe that the CEO is ultimately responsible and accountable for all that goes on at AVH.

To that end, our patients have always come first, and we were recent recipients of two national awards for exceeding patient expectations and best in class for emergency care. I can’t tell you how many nice letters I have received over the years from patients complimenting the high-quality, personalized care they experienced.

As for the financial side, we are one of only a few small, rural hospitals in the state of Colorado to enjoy a BBB bond rating. This rating comes only after intense scrutiny from outside and independent financial experts. This is in addition to clean audits.

Most of my years at AVH have seen positive operating margins, during a period of shrinking reimbursements, in which more than a third of the hospitals across the country have suffered operating losses. Unfortunately, the last two have been more difficult financially. But, what business in Aspen has not suffered under recent economic conditions?

I am proud of my contributions to AVH, and within our community. Most recently, the Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan Board, in which I participated, delivered a locally-based, competitively-priced community health plan.

I am honored to have served the citizens of this community, and the employees and physicians of AVH. The staff at the hospital are good people, highly skilled and dedicated to delivering extraordinary care.

As I depart, I can only hope that you, as a member of this community, appreciate the tremendous health-care facility that is here to serve you.

Randy Middlebrook

Aspen Valley Hospital