As elected members of the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors, we have participated in all aspects of the hospital’s master facilities plan (MFP). We are, therefore, in a unique community position to address concerns about the AVH expansion. Our comments are informed and based on fact.
Fact: The MFP is a four-part plan. Phase one (Aspen Birth Center) was completed in 2008 and was funded by revenue bonds issued in 2003.
Fact: Phase two is being funded by general obligation bonds approved by the voters of the district in 2010, hospital cash acquired through careful fiscal management over the course of many years, and philanthropy. Interest expenses (for the voter-approved bonds) are predictable because the rate is fixed. Phase two includes inpatient areas; physical, occupational and speech therapy; cardiopulmonary rehabilitation; and medical office space for orthopedics, general/trauma surgery and obstetrics. These improvements are essential to quality health care and equally as important as future expansion.
Fact: Phase two needed to be completed before we could address the needs of phases three and four, including the emergency department. Sequencing was determined by the need for: 1) site work related to required drainage systems and safe traffic flow; 2) a parking garage since existing parking would be eliminated with the expansion of the emergency department; and 3) engineering infrastructure improvements needed for both the existing aging facility and the expansion. This approach maximizes patient care, safety, and construction logistics.
Fact: Phases three and four have been conceptually approved by the Aspen City Council and are currently before the council for final approval. They include improvements to the emergency department, diagnostic imaging, surgery, laboratory, admissions, specialty clinics, and additional medical office space.
Fact: Phases three and four will be paid for primarily by philanthropic funds. If necessary and appropriate, hospital cash will also be used. There will not be an increase in hospital charges to pay for these two phases, and there will not be a request for taxpayers to further contribute to construction costs.
Fact: If philanthropic efforts do not generate the funds needed for phases three and four, the project will be put on hold until a sufficient amount of money is raised. It’s that simple. Phases one and two are already paid for, and phases three and four will begin only when philanthropic efforts are successful and confirmed.
Fact: The hospital is in excellent financial condition and has been for a number of years. Despite the recession and a slow recovery, AVH has operated efficiently, successfully contained costs, kept rate increases to a minimum, and carefully managed its assets.
The Aspen community is comprised of knowledgeable and engaged citizens. We all care about this wonderful place we love and call home. The AVH board is confident that the expansion will make our community a better place to live and visit.
John Sarpa, president
Dr. Barry Mink, vice president
Chuck Frias, treasurer
Dr. Mindy Nagle
Board of directors, Aspen Valley Hospital