New hope for hospice in Roaring Fork Valley |

New hope for hospice in Roaring Fork Valley

John Gardner and Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondents
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Great attendance at three late October meetings for people interested in volunteering for Hospice of the Valley has Kris Marsh excited about the future.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but we are just thrilled,” Marsh said. “It really shows that people really care and that the program is needed in the valley.”

More than 70 people showed up to volunteer orientation meetings in Glenwood Springs and Aspen, according to Marsh.

Marsh, CEO and president of Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, is also chairman of the board for Hospice of the Valley, which will be an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing valley residents with end-of-life care.

Hospice of the Valley replaces Roaring Fork Hospice, which was a department of Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, after it closed down in June due to a shortage of staff, volunteers and patients, according to hospital Chief Clinical Officer Deb Wiepking. Valley View operated the program for more than 10 years.

“We feel that the best way for this organization to operate is to be independent of all of us, to stand on its own with its own board and its own budget,” Marsh said.

The newly organized program will operate out of donated office space in the Aspen/Basalt Health Care Center in Basalt, which is also a project of the medical foundation. They’ve assembled a board, and have hired Executive Director Markey Butler, who has previous experience running a Hospice organization.

Butler expressed the need for hospice services in the valley.

“The goal of the hospice is not a cure. We’re a care organization that focuses on symptoms manifested by terminal illness,” Butler said. “We keep people comfortable doing pain and symptom management. We’re focused on bringing peace and understanding at the end of life.”

Marsh didn’t have a count of people who attended the Rifle meeting in October, but she did say that besides those who attended the meetings in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, they have seen an interest from several people who did not attend, as well.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” Marsh said.

Both Valley View and Aspen Valley Hospital donated $100,000 each to the program and, according to Marsh, have agreed to help support the independent hospice organization.

Currently, the organization isn’t servicing patients because it’s waiting for the nonprofit status to be certified and also have to be certified by Medicare. However, Marsh hopes that the program will be up and running, servicing patients sometime in December.

“There will be some delay in serving patients,” Marsh said. “But we are working hard to be able to start serving patients in December. We are really working hard to make it happen.”

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