Most people only think of hospitals in times of need—a blown ACL from snowboarding or a procedure from a potentially life-threatening disease—but the team at Aspen Valley Hospital (aspenvalleyhospital.org) wants valley residents and even visitors to think of their organization as a partner in lifelong wellness.
The hospital, launched 120 years ago to care for injured silver miners, is now a critical-access facility whose patients—locals and international clientele alike—push its 500 staff members to create innovative care for a range of health issues. “AVH has been an early adopter and a leader in developing the healthcare system capacity to respond to escalating costs of healthcare in the United States,” says the hospital’s CEO, Dave Ressler. “More than eight years ago, we started working with our large local employers and other rural hospitals across the western Colorado region to form partnerships that are built upon collaboration and an understanding of the systemic changes required to create value in healthcare.”
Ressler says these partnerships have led to the establishment of a regional infrastructure, called the Community Care Alliance, that serves more than 15,000 Medicare beneficiaries in 14 different rural communities, and a coalition of local employers called the Valley Health Alliance—all leading to increased access to more affordable insurance options for individuals and small groups.
The hospital has also been a leader in preventative care, developing its own capabilities to better manage the health and well-being of community members. Ressler notes this includes a “robust primary care practice that provides social services, nutritional counseling, case management and pharmaceutical consultations.”
Aspen Valley Hospital also offers exceptional orthopedic care, which is a boon to outdoor sports enthusiasts and world-class athletes. In fact, the hospital recently partnered with Vail-based Steadman Clinic, which, through the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, has developed best practices for addressing sports-injury prevention, training and surgery. “It only made sense to partner with this leading orthopedic organization when they expressed an intent to expand into other resort communities with active populations, like their own in the Vail Valley,” says Ressler. “Through our partnership, The Steadman Clinic will provide direct orthopedic care to our community through a new full-time practice located in our valley, The Steadman Clinic-Aspen, and a rotation of their world-renowned surgeons from their Vail location. Our local surgeons will be a part of this community, will take care of injured patients that present to our emergency department, Snowmass Clinic or Basalt After-Hours Medical Care, and will be available for consultations and surgeries on a full-time basis.” Along with Vail Health, AVH will develop a state-of-the-art orthopedic center in Willits, complete with a surgery center, rehabilitation services, a research location and The Steadman Clinic—while also maintaining an Aspen location at AVH.
The hospital’s team is forever adjusting to the needs of the community—COVID-19 was a perfect example. “In addition to telemedicine, tele-education is a giant silver lining of Aspen Valley Hospital’s response to COVID,” says Chief of Staff Dr. Catherine Bernard. “The advent of education via Zoom and other internet- based programs has connected doctors across the world. The teamwork and flexibility shown by all involved at AVH, specifically in educating ourselves and each other, as well as developing new and safer ways to care for our patients, has been outstanding. Our relationship with Pitkin County Public Health and in the education of our county—[plus] the efforts to align the three counties around such important issues as testing and equal access to care—are truly unique. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Photography by: Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital