Letter: Vote to continue hospital’s existing mill levy | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Vote to continue hospital’s existing mill levy

A "yes" vote on ballot issue 5A preserves the exact same mill levy for Aspen Valley Hospital that has been in place for 20 years — no more, no less.

Fact: The existing mill levy has been on the books since 1995, renewed by the community at the same level every five years. Each dollar raised helps to pay for the cost of patient care — including necessary things such as staff salaries, medical supplies, heat, electricity, insurance and hundreds of other expenses large and small. In short, mill-levy funding makes it possible to sustain everyday patient-care operations and to keep the doors open and the lights turned on.

Fact: In the face of rising cost pressures and revenue constraints such as those experienced throughout the hospital world, Aspen Valley Hospital lives within its means. The hospital's budget is balanced every year, and its bond rating is the highest awarded by Moody's to any critical-access hospital in the country. Remarkably, the hospital has accomplished this while keeping its charges among the very lowest in the state of Colorado — 26 percent below the statewide average, significantly less than other ski towns and less even than other hospitals on the Western Slope. The existing mill levy makes this possible, as well.

Fact: The hospital's doors are open to all — the indigent, the wealthy and everyone between — and the care offered to rich and poor alike is extraordinary. Our hospital's quality metrics are off the charts — infection rates at the hospital are one-twenty-fifth of the national average (the envy of any hospital in the country), and our patient-satisfaction scores are among the highest anywhere. This, too, is made possible by the mill levy.

Fact: The hospital is there when we need it. Sure, there are certain complex services that are not (and should not be) performed at our small community hospital. And, of course, some elective procedures can be purchased more cheaply elsewhere by those willing to shop and travel. Fair points, but here's the really important question: If, heaven forbid, any of us wakes up with chest pains in the middle of the night during a fierce snowstorm or if a child or loved one is carried off the ski mountain with extreme trauma or when any of the 1,001 health problems that life throws our way occurs on any day of the year, at any hour of the day, where do we turn? Answer: Aspen Valley Hospital is there when we need it most. The mill levy makes this possible.

The hospital is a vital community asset, worth preserving and supporting. Please vote "yes" on ballot issue 5A, a continuation of the mill levy in place for the past 20 years — no more, no less.

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David Eisenstat

Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors