Prognosis on the hospital |

Prognosis on the hospital

It seems that some members of our community have quickly formed an opinion about the possibility of Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) relocating. I’d like to set the record straight on why the hospital board of directors would consider such an idea, where we are in the process and what can be expected in the future.

Let’s start at the beginning. Aspen Valley Hospital was built in 1977, primarily as an inpatient facility. Now, most people come to AVH as outpatients. In 2002 there were 30,609 outpatient admissions compared to 1,915 inpatient admissions.

While minor renovations have been made in recent years to adapt to this shift, the hospital has essentially run out of options. It is clearly time to make some significant changes (renovations and expansion) in order to provide extraordinary health care for our extraordinary community.

We are currently preparing for some immediate renovations which will address regulatory requirements. At the same time, we have for the most part completed our master plan for long-range improvements at our current site. These steps are needed, whether Aspen Valley Hospital relocates or not.

Several weeks ago, a new variable entered the equation: The idea that it might make sense to start from scratch, find a new plot of land and build a brand-new hospital. It’s something that many other communities have recently done, including Rifle, Steamboat and Longmont.

Our architects and engineers have advised us that we would undoubtedly benefit from a new facility. We would be able to continue to function at our current site without disruption. We could build a state-of-the-art facility that would serve the community for a longer period of time. We would be far more efficient in the construction process.

And, a new facility could be more cost effective and just better “bang for the buck.” We understand concerns about location and, obviously, would have to conduct a thorough analysis of the pros and cons.

Also noteworthy, we have been assured that no time will be lost on starting the long-term improvements at the current facility if that is the ultimate decision. This is because a comprehensive needs assessment for our future hospital has already been done, the master plan for long-term improvement at the current site is by and large complete, it will take a number of months to complete needed interim upgrades at AVH, and the long-term improvements must go through the land-use approval process before any work on it begins.

In other words, we have a number of months to do a thorough study of all our options that will not result in any delays.

Finally, and very important, consultants to the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation have advised us that fund-raising for a new facility will be much more easily accomplished than renovations to an old facility.

With this information, the hospital board feels that it would be irresponsible not to engage in a process of due diligence. We have a fiduciary responsibility to at least explore the options. And that is exactly where we are at this time. There are no down sides, only the potential for an even better hospital than anticipated.

It is too early to say where our analysis will lead us, as there are many unknowns at this time. We, as a board of directors, have not yet come to any conclusions because there is much to evaluate and discuss, not only among ourselves, but also with our physicians and other hospital staff, community leaders and residents.

We realize we must do this analysis in a reasonably short period of time, so as not to jeopardize current site renovations, if that turns out to be the better course of action. My request is that the community keep an open mind, work with us and withhold judgment until we have fully explored our options.

John Sarpa,


AVH board of directors