A better experience: Snowmass Clinic staff looks forward to offering more out of new facility | AspenTimes.com

A better experience: Snowmass Clinic staff looks forward to offering more out of new facility

A tour group views patient exam and treatment rooms in the new Snowmass Clinic before it officially opens in Base Village on Thursday, December 5, 2019.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

In January, the Snowmass Clinic is set to move into a new and improved space its staff has been awaiting for over a decade.

That space, an over 6,000-foot area in the east One Snowmass building in Base Village, will allow Snowmass clinicians to offer patients more privacy, improved services and better overall care in a more accessible location.

On a recent afternoon at the clinic’s current Village Mall location, just below the Venga Venga restaurant, Dr. Jon Gibans, medical director of the Snowmass Clinic, and Kelly Hansen, the clinic’s office manager, talked about how they’ve done their best to make the former kids activity center work as a medical facility for over 12 years.

But now after over 25 years working with the Snowmass Clinic, which was founded in the 1970s and has moved locations a few times since, the two longtime staff members are about to help debut a modern, state-of-the-art facility they both helped design to better meet the needs of their team and their patients.

“After all of these years to have this come to fruition is really exciting,” Gibans said of the new Snowmass clinic.

“We’re really excited as the people who work here, but are also excited to hopefully provide a more accessible, private and just better experience for our patients,” Hansen added.

An outpatient branch of Aspen Valley Hospital, the Snowmass Clinic offers year-round physical therapy, acute illness and injury care with help from about 20 staff members, including four clinicians trained in emergency medicine.

Clinic staff usually see over 2,000 patients in a typical winter season, clinic data show, which Gibans said is often more than the other Aspen-Snowmass ski areas combined. And in June, the clinic moved to operating full-time to accommodate the increase in summer village activities, like mountain biking, and in Snowmass visitors, staff said, treating more than 600 patients over the season.

Gibans and Hansen said the ski injuries, peak injuries, altitude illness and other acute conditions staff see every day can make for an interesting and challenging workplace, but that their team enjoys interacting with the people who come in from the village and from all over the world.

“We really work with a team mentality. When you walk in the door we all work together, the hierarchy that you always need sort of goes out the door in the sense that there are no egos,” Hansen said. “Everybody just really enjoys everybody here.”

This collaborative atmosphere is partially what’s kept both Gibans and Hansen with the clinic for so long, and both said they hope to offer even better team-based services at the new Base Village clinic.

The new roughly $3 million home will be more centralized and improved through features like a triage room; physical therapy gym and treatment spaces; a procedure room for acute injuries; a special entrance for ski patrol to bring in injured patients and improved access for ambulances; and seven fully-private patient rooms, as previously reported.

Both Gibans and Hansen feel that because Snowmass often sees more acute injuries and illness than the other local ski areas, which they believe is due to the greater average numbers of people at Snowmass, it is especially important to have a community clinic that can cut the cost of ambulance transport and an emergency room visit, and get people the help they need sooner.

“We hope we can help people when they have an acute illness or problem and ensure they can be seen quickly and efficiently and not have to wait like they would at a typical doctor’s office,” Gibans said. “Needless to say I think we have the best staff in the world.”

According to Elaine Gerson, chief transformation officer and administrator of ambulatory clinics for AVH, the new, customized Snowmass Clinic is a part of the hospital’s larger efforts to establish a network of care in the Aspen area.

Gerson said talks of moving the location of the current Snowmass clinic have been in the works for about six years, and that she sees Base Village as the ideal location for locals and visitors to access the year-round, quasi-urgent care center.

“We’re super excited about the clinic, which will help provide high-quality care through a lower-cost alternative to the hospital emergency room,” Gerson said. “Accessibility and affordability are key, and a lot of people came together to make this dream a reality.”

The Snowmass Clinic will continue to operate at its Village Mall location, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day, until its move to Base Village in January.