The answer to the letter (“Hospital expanding to what end?” Aspen Daily News, March 25) from Dr. Singer is simple. It is simply about providing the best possible patient care for the community now. Not for some future chance that we will need the expansion, as Dr. Singer suggests, but for the needs we have right now.
To address Dr. Singer’s specific concerns, let’s start with the doctor’s office space. Yes they will use the space and move their offices to the hospital campus. Of course not all doctors want to move to the hospital campus, but this was not planned without years of consulting the doctors, interviews, surveys and extensive planning to accommodate the current and future need for on-campus physician office space. Does it make sense for a patient who may have difficulty with mobility or pain to drive to the surgeon’s office in town, then the internist, then to the hospital to have tests, then back to town to discuss the test with their physicians? Not to mention the duplication of hazardous waste pickup, radiation equipment and people driving in and out of town. The benefit of having doctors on campus for emergencies is enough reason itself to do it.
The “enormous parking garage and … employee housing” may seem excessive but again none of these things were planned on a whim but were well-thought-out and thoroughly researched and re-evaluated over years.
The suggestion of Dr. Singer to upgrade the emergency department is what the next phases are about. It would be wasteful and redundant to do it incompletely and not include all the things that our patients need now, just to have to finish it or tear it down and do it again in five or 10 years. What is planned in phase three and four is not about some hope that we will become the “Mayo Clinic” of the mountains, it has nothing to do with Valley View Hospital and it is not about a “build and they will come” mind-set. As I told the City Council, “they” are already here and we need to complete the project to provide the care people need right now. Yes the project should meet the community demands for the next 30 years but it is needed now.
As I write this from the ER, it’s 4 a.m. and the two patients I just took care of need the new facility. Without going into details, both had conditions that would have been better served by a modern facility.
Dr. Singer also mentions that it would be counterproductive to use more than 25 beds as it would compromise our “Critical Access Hospital” designation. He is right and the hospital has no plans to use more than 25 inpatient beds at this time. There is “shell” space for additional rooms if they are needed in the future and the hospital would be remiss to not plan for the possibility that in the future we may need more beds. Who can say if there will be a critical access designation for hospitals? Or maybe it will be 35 beds instead of 25?
I encourage Dr. Singer and everyone with questions and concerns to look at the hospital website and read the information about the expansion. As an emergency physician I am not employed by the hospital, rather I work at the hospital. My opinions are my own but are also shared by my partners in the emergency medicine practice.
Dr. Steve Ayers