Philanthropist turns to medical sector |

Philanthropist turns to medical sector

Eben Harrell

An Aspen philanthropist presented checks of $5,000 last night to five Aspen Valley Hospital employees he feels have provided “distinguished service.”Richard Butera, a longtime local resident and businessman, said the checks are part of a 10-year commitment to honor five hospital employees a year. He also provides annual cash awards to outstanding teachers in the Aspen School District.”There are two [professions] this community cannot do without, and that’s hospital workers and school teachers,” Butera said. “We want to have a first-class hospital and what makes that possible is first-rate people.”Butera, who sits on the board of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, chose the recipients himself with input from internal hospital staff, said foundation director Kris Marsh. His awards are not affiliated with the foundation or the hospital.The recipients were: Deb Charlson, who works on coordinating the hospital’s patient billing; Rosa Meraz, a former housekeeper who is now a technician in the hospital’s sterilization unit; Dean Morgan, who arranges and purchases supplies for the hospital; Mary Powell, who works in the intensive care unit; and Li Zhu, the hospital’s food services supervisor.”Hopefully this will be an inspiration to all employees,” Butera said. “Five more people will receive the same awards next year.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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