Aspen Valley Hospital is working to create a wider system of care for its community so that patients hopefully stay out of the hospital.
Valley residents play hard, and local health officials are hoping some preventative practices keep people in shape—so they can keep playing.
It’s no surprise that Pitkin County was ranked the third-healthiest county in the state of Colorado; longevity, health behaviors and healthcare were factors in the recent study. Whether it’s hiking Highland Bowl, skinning up Tiehack or competing in the Audi Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race, the active lifestyle of the local community is undeniable. And it also creates a high demand for musculoskeletal health services, i.e., issues in your tissues, bones and muscles.
But instead of being reactive, Aspen Valley Hospital (aspenvalleyhospital.org) is proactive when it comes to conservative management care. That means helping to keep people healthy and their healthcare bills low. “Our responsibility is taking the charge of being part of the solution for high healthcare costs,” says Dave Ressler, CEO of AVH. “This is not new in concept, but new in hospitals that have always been paid for volume.” And it entails maintaining the health of a defined population in an effort to lower the cost of healthcare. Here are some of the ways they do it, and what it means for you.
Direct access to physical therapy
AVH is one of the first hospitals in the country to offer direct access to physical therapy, where AVH physical therapists can order imaging with a doctor’s order. What does this mean for the community? You can make an appointment with a physical therapist without having to go through a physician first (970.544.1177). In a community whose population is highly active, this self-referral process means easier access to injury healing, wellness and injury prevention care.
Primary care support
At the hospital’s new Aspen Valley Primary Care practice in Basalt, patients have access to a care coordinator, a clinical pharmacist, a nutritionist and a social worker (970.279.4111). The hospital also partners with Mind Springs Health to offer mental health therapy. No more driving up to Aspen for some basic services.
In 2016, AVH launched OrthoAspen with a team of orthopedic specialists who are now working with the No. 1-ranked orthopedic hospital in the country, Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The orthopedic care center’s services start with education and awareness; they work with corporate partners, like Aspen Skiing Co. and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, to help educate people on injury prevention.
“We are becoming more than just a hospital… we are creating a network of care,” says Jennifer Slaughter, AVH’s chief marketing officer. The expansion of this network includes a Basalt campus-in-the-making housing all the hospital’s clinics. “Midvalley and Snowmass are poised for real growth in the next few years,” says Slaughter.
Photography by: Jordan Curet, courtesy of Aspen Skiing Co.