Aspen doctors support hospital mill levy renewal

Greg Balko,Catherine Bernard, Ann Golden, Mike Goralka, Dewayne Niebur and Leelee von Stadee
Guest commentary

Ballot issue 5A is not a new tax! It is a request to continue the hospital’s operational mill levy for another five years. This mill levy has been in place — at the exact same amount of 1.5 mills — for the past 20 years. It helps Aspen Valley Hospital recruit and retain the best staff and maintain state-of-the-art technology and care for people from all walks of life, regardless of ability to pay. It is not for the expansion of the hospital. However, it is for day-to-day operations. If your home is valued at $1 million, it costs just $120 per year.

As medical providers in our community and physician leaders at the hospital, there are many reasons we support ballot issue 5A. We’d like to share why we believe you, too, should vote “yes” on this ballot in support of Aspen Valley Hospital.

Aspen Valley Hospital is a 25-bed hospital. While small in numbers, the quality of care offered is outstanding — as good or better than any large hospital.

We have an all-registered-nurse nursing staff (unheard-of in any hospital, large or small), and all of our physicians are board-certified.

Represented on the medical staff are 25 different medical specialties. From primary care provided by internists, family medicine doctors and pediatricians to specialty services such as orthopedics, obstetrics, oncology, general surgery and so on, our medical staff can meet the vast majority of your health care needs right here in your community.

The quality of the staff is outstanding. Nurses, respiratory therapists, imaging specialists, lab technologists and physical therapists are well-trained and 100 percent committed to quality patient care.

Administrative staffing philosophies ensure optimum nurse-to-patient ratios, thus providing the most attentive, personalized patient care. This is of utmost importance to us and is reflected in our outstanding patient-satisfaction scores.

Whether it’s a simple outpatient test or procedure, an emergency visit, surgery or an overnight stay, the staff is committed to meeting your needs.

Care and services are supported by advanced medical technology.

For example:

A 64-slice, low-dose CT scanner, the best on the market for image clarity and reduced radiation exposure.

A dedicated cardiac nuclear medicine camera.

3-D digital mammography with images read by radiology breast specialists at Invision Sally Jobe and services by a breast-health navigator.

Computerized technology to maximize patient safety and efficiency.

Implementation of the finest in electronic medical records (Epic) in conjunction with UC Health in Denver.

The only hospital on the Western Slope to offer robotic-aided joint-replacement surgery, ensuring the most precise total joint replacements.

Telemedicine connection with a stroke-specialty center for quick diagnosis and treatment.

The National Rural Health Association placed AVH in the top 20 best practices for financial stability, and patient charges are, on average, lower than most other hospitals in the state.

Clinical affiliation with UCHealth in Denver enhances the outstanding care already provided.

How does a 25-bed hospital achieve all of these accomplishments? By recruiting and retaining the highest quality of staff. By having a governing board that understands what is important. By having knowledgeable leaders who provide staff with the means to do their job. By managing finances wisely through cost containment and diligent management of resources. By earning a strong reputation as a quality hospital and leveraging itself for charitable contributions. By being reasonable in its request of the taxpayers.

The hospital has fulfilled its mission and delivered on its promise to provide the highest-quality medical care to you and your family. We now ask that you support the hospital with a nominal tax contribution.

Please vote in favor of the continuation of the hospital mill levy at 1.5 mills. The mill levy was first approved — notably at 1.5 mills — 20 years ago and then every five years thereafter. Today, our board of directors and the medical staff ask for a reauthorization of 1.5 mills for another five years. It’s something that both employees and physicians — the people who know the hospital best — support.

Vote “yes” on ballot issue 5A. Thank you for your support.

This commentary was written by physicians Greg Balko, Catherine Bernard, Ann Golden, Mike Goralka, Dewayne Niebur and Leelee von Stade.