I’ve been reading a lot of the editorials in The Aspen Times and Aspen Daily News with concerns about the Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) expansion. While I understand that such a large project deserves examination, a lot of the concerns are unfounded.
I’m increasingly frustrated by the lack of understanding of this undertaking. The crux of the expansion, I believe, is this paragraph, which I found on the hospital website:
“Aspen Valley Hospital was originally constructed as an inpatient facility with minimal outpatient services — and those were mostly to support inpatients. As a result, the outpatient areas are quite small, lack sufficient storage, have small waiting areas, and afford minimal privacy to patients. Space and design issues prevail.”
The purpose of the expansion is to meet the health care needs of the community. The existing hospital, when evaluated by an architectural group focusing on the needs of each clinical department, found that our space is about half of what it should be. As a hospital employee I can tell you we are in need of space. I work in the laboratory, which is in the fourth and final phase of the plan. While I didn’t move here for the facilities, I want people to understand that departments like mine are easy to forget when you write something like “Build an emergency department and do away with the rest.” We are an important part of the clinical capacity of the hospital. The same goes for diagnostic imaging and surgery that are part of phase three, and oncology and outpatient services that are included in phase four. These department expansions are not an afterthought. They are very purposeful and are part of a carefully evaluated, long-term plan for the hospital.
There’s a very easy way to get all of this information, and that is through the hospital website, aspenvalleyhospital.org (find “hospital expansion” under “about us,” at the top of the screen). There you’ll find the renderings and information about the purposes of phases two, three and four. Additionally there’s a very well done video that gives context for the new hospital by giving a history of the hospitals in Aspen. I highly recommend it.
Finally, if you still have questions about the expansion there are interviews available on Youtube that originally aired on Grassroots TV, titled “Master Facilities Plan.” Dave Ressler, AVH CEO, explains the expansion in great detail in installments: The need; an overview; measuring quality; the Aspen birth center, and fact versus myth. Each one is half an hour long, and they are very watchable once you make it past the smooth jazz introduction (which may be the reason these videos have so few views on Youtube.)
Please take the time to utilize these resources before airing your concerns about the hospital. Also, talk to friends who work there. They will likely be glad to give you their take on it. I know I would rather explain the expansion to a friend than have them form their opinion based on conjecture they see in the paper.