Where can AVH cut back? | AspenTimes.com
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Where can AVH cut back?

Aspen Times writer

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of four questions answered by candidates for the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors. Two seats on the five-member board will be chosen by AVH district voters on Tuesday, May 4.

Today’s question: In the face of the current financial crisis, AVH administrators laid off 34 employees last week. If further cuts have to come, what departments are most expendable?

Name: Richard F. Jacobs, M.D., MBA

With the information available to me, I am unaware of any department at AVH that is “expendable.” Fiscally responsible operation is a complex team effort between management, employees and medical staff.

The appropriate functions for a volunteer board are to chart the overall course, hold the appropriate people accountable, and when goals are not met and mentoring has failed, move along to identify the people who can and will get the job done. That is what is occurring now at AVH.

The process of determining if a financially losing line of business should be continued is complex and requires the consideration of multiple factors, including community wishes, scope of the loss, competing need and available resources.

Name: Bob D’Alessio

All departments are vital to the hospital. None are more expendable.

The easy answer might be to cut back in “departments with other than a clinical function,” but, in fact, each member of the AVH team, both clinical and administrative, is valued and vital to the mission. As much as I’d like to be more specific, I can’t. No function is “most” expendable.

What was done was to conduct a thorough analysis of the workload and

staffing levels in each department and where we found that workloads didn’t warrant the level of existing staffing, we had to act accordingly. This analysis considered established national standards for hospital staffing and also the size and seasonal nature of AVH.

Name: Barry Mink, M.D.

Departments that are critical for patient care and would compromise patient care cannot be cut. ER, operating room, patient care unit, diagnostic imaging, lab, and maintenance support to keep infection, sanitation, etc., running smoothly.

Administrative and consulting costs need to be considered first with administrative staffing and expenses having a hard look by a creative and superlative CEO. I would need more input that I don’t have privy to i.e., salaries, benefits, expense accounts, etc., to make appropriate decisions and answer this question.

Name: Greg Balko, M.D.

Let me stress that it is the sole discretion of administration and should not be the job of the board of directors to determine which departments and personnel are “expendable.”

Having said this, I do have a concern whenever a reduction in force has occurred. Aspen, due to its high cost of living, is unique in that it is very difficult to attract and retain good employees. I have personally experienced times where we could not fill a position and had to hire on a temporary basis to fill the vacancy. Compared to permanent providers, I have found temporary positions to be expensive and mediocre in quality.

For these reasons, I feel it is important to invest our money in our own people and work hard to retain their services. The long-term goals of our hospital should center around finding ways to expand our revenues and not on staff reductions to reduce our expenses.


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