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No detox facility in Aspen hospital expansion

ASPEN ” The conceptual plan for Aspen Valley Hospital to triple its size with a multi-year expansion is inching closer to approval.

The Aspen City Council is expected to vote on AVH’s master facilities plan on May 11, after the final public hearing is held. Hospital officials on Monday went in front of the council to address the final issues related to the proposal.

Council members in previous public hearings had asked hospital officials to incorporate into the plan a detox facility, senior citizen accommodations and childcare.

But after further analysis, AVH officials said those amenities would be better served in other capacities off site ” a notion that the council appeared to support.

AVH officials are working as part of a community task force to address detox services throughout the region. The concept is to develop a regional modified medical detoxification program, along with a mental health crisis stabilization unit at a centralized location, which is currently housed at a facility in Glenwood Springs.

Hospital officials say a regional facility would provide a higher level of service, as well as keep patients for a longer period of time. A regional facility would be more focused on rehabilitation to break the cycle of alcohol and drug abuse, and have an accompanying mental health stabilization unit to treat patients in crisis.

Those services, combined with case management and transportation provided by the Right Door, would be superior to social detox services provided in Aspen, hospital officials said. That’s because of the low volume of difficult patients here and the high costs of operating a facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

AVH CEO Dave Ressler said if the regional model doesn’t work out, a local facility could be reconsidered.

Council members wanted assurances that mentally ill and intoxicated individuals are adequately taken care of in Aspen before they are transferred to Colorado West Regional Mental Health, a Glenwood Springs detox facility that provides care regionally.

AVH Chief of Staff Steve Ayers said all patients are medically stabilized and deemed safe before they are transferred to Colorado West.

“Now and in the future, our needs are being met,” Ayers said of the current transferring of intoxicated patients to the Glenwood Springs facility.

Ressler told the council AVH officials don’t see a need for childcare services for hospital employees. If it becomes a need in the future, however, officials will reconsider a facility adjacent to the property.

To address a growing senior citizen population, the hospital has proposed to expand Whitcomb Terrace along Castle Creek Road with 10 additional assisted living units. Currently, there are 15 assisted living units at Whitcomb Terrace.

In the meantime, hospital officials are part of a task force that is creating a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) off the hospital campus. A CCRC is typically a nonprofit organization that provides a full housing spectrum of independent living units, assisted living units and skilled nursing and dementia care.

AVH is proposing a 214,395 square-foot addition at the Castle Creek site. The proposed two-story development includes a new underground parking garage and surface lot that would accommodate 338 spaces. Also included in the development plans are an expansion of the emergency and imaging departments, a surgical suite, central plant upgrades, as well as medical office space, patient and family services, and a rooftop heli-pad. The expansion to the existing 75,700-square-foot facility would occur in four phases with a complete build-out expected in 2016.

csack@aspentimes.com


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