Valley View ends hospice program |

Valley View ends hospice program

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Valley View Hospital will shut down its Roaring Fork Hospice program by July 1, hospital executives decided this week.

“The issue for us is not financial,” said Deb Wiepking, chief clinical officer. “We don’t do this to make money.”

The decision to close the program, which has aided terminally ill patents during their final days for more than 10 years in the valley, was due to a shortage of staff, volunteers, and patients, according to Wiepking.

“It was the human resource piece of it,” Wiepking said. “We gave it our best shot, we gave it six months and I thought we would have two more nurses the beginning of May and they fell through.”

According to Wiepking, the program was down to only one part-time nurse, Patti Mieley, who also happened to be the Roaring Fork Hospice director. However, Wiepking indicated that the hospital has known that closing the program was a possibility for a while.

“It was a very difficult decision and it breaks my heart that we can no longer provide this service for the valley,” Wiepking said.

Due to the inability to successfully recruit nurses specifically for the hospice program, the program was only able to provide assistance for five patients at any one time, Wiepking said. But, closing the program doesn’t completely eliminate the hospice service in the valley. According to Wiepking, Alpine Home Health and Hospice, a private provider based in Montrose, will still provide needed care in the valley.

“We are not abandoning any of our patients,” Wiepking said.

The program will continue bereavement support for family members who had patients in hospice within the past year. State laws require hospice to maintain the bereavement support for up to one year after a patient’s death.

Wiepking also said that if things were to change and the hospital could find viable nursing candidates to support the program before the end of August, when the state license as a hospice provider expires, there is a possibility the program could continue.

However, that doesn’t look likely.

“I don’t know if that is feasible,” she said. “If I had the nurses come in tomorrow, I wouldn’t give up. Between now and then, if the something were to change, we would do it.”