Keeping Young Athletes at the Top of Their Game

February 27, 2020

AVH athletic trainers focus on student wellness

Local young athletes and sports enthusiasts have plenty of options to choose from all year long. During the winter months, it’s hockey, basketball, snowboarding and skiing. In spring, they look forward to baseball and lacrosse. Once fall rolls around, it’s time for soccer and football. There’s truly something for everyone. Unfortunately, active kids are also at risk for potential injuries, which can have serious implications for bodies that are still growing.

That’s why Aspen Valley Hospital made the commitment to staff a full-time athletic trainer at the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club (AVSC) and Aspen High School (AHS). Both Erin Young, ATC, at AVSC and Celty Fitterer, MA, ATC, at AHS are onsite to provide full-time athletic training support, including injury prevention, emergency care, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries.


AVH and its orthopedic specialist group, OrthoAspen, collaborate with the #1 orthopedic hospital in the country, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), to further enhance and ensure the highest quality of orthopedic care for our entire community. In particular, this partnership elevates the experiences of our young athletes. It allows them Quick read more or view full article to achieve their full athletic potential with sports-medicine support specifically prepared for competitive and recreational athletics programs at AVSC and AHS.

“Athletic trainers are a critical component of an effective healthcare team,” Erin said. Celty added that athletic trainers can help to ensure the best practices are in place to make sure athletic activities are safer for all participants. “We’re very fortunate to have these expert partnerships in our community as the majority of Colorado high schools and competitive clubs do not have full-time athletic trainers,” she said.

Both Erin and Celty oversee the general care that includes injury rehabilitation, injury evaluations, protective taping, conducting concussion follow-up and overseeing return-to-play protocols. They assist with strength training and conditioning with a close eye on body movements to identify any weakness that may lead to injury. When injuries such as torn ACLs, dislocated shoulders or broken bones occur, they are onsite to begin immediate medical treatment, collaborating with the AVH staff to get athletes on the proper path to complete recovery.


With AVSC shifting to a year-round program schedule, having a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to club athletes enhances the athlete experience. Their programs offer specific, quality healthcare and wellness regimens for young athletes participating in competitive and recreational alpine ski racing, freestyle skiing, Nordic skiing and snowboarding. The club serves 2,400 local youth age 3½ years and up.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Erin,” said AVSC Executive Director Mark Godomsky. “Her ability to handle medical
decisions, act as a liaison between parents and medical staff, and educate families on the resources available through AVH allows our staff to focus on our athletic programs. This type of health and wellness resource is imperative to keeping athletes healthy, strong and at the top of their game.”

Erin has an extensive sports medicine background. She received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology athletic training from San Diego State University, where she gained experience working with Division I college athletes. She developed her expertise working in the physical therapy, fitness and wellness departments at the Aspen Club and Aspen Club Sports Medicine Institute. Erin also worked as athletic trainer for the Aspen Leafs U20 Juniors hockey team and the Aspen Men’s Lacrosse Club’s local tournaments.

A former student athlete, Erin tore her ACL while playing high school soccer. The athletic trainer who saw her through the injury and rehabilitation made a lasting impression on her. “This is an incredible opportunity to grow the presence of athletic training and enhance AVSC’s already world-class programs,” she said.


Celty first became interested in athletic training after taking a basic introductory class as a junior in high school. She received her bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver and her master’s degree in athletic training from San Jose
State University. Celty is now in her seventh full rotation as AHS’ full-time athletic trainer, overseeing 350 to 400 student athletes who participate in 25 varsity sports.

“I love all the aspects of my job,” she said. “I’m honored to be part of AVH’s highlevel, efficient healthcare team serving our community’s athletes.”

As AHS athletic trainer, Celty monitors athlete training, diagnoses injuries,initiates treatments and works extensively with student athletes to return them to peak sports performance. “I work with our athletes, guiding them toward achieving their best physical condition, before, during and after injuries and ailments,” she said. “I also get athletes through treatment processes quickly, resulting in complete and timely recoveries, and as needed, I collaborate closely with the highly knowledgeable, skilled AVH and OrthoAspen staff.”

“AHS is blessed to have Celty on staff as a full-time athletic trainer,” said AHS Athletic Director Martha Richards. “She keeps our student athletes healthy and playing. And when injuries occur, she gets our athletes immediately onto treatment plans and refers as appropriate to the AVH/OrthoAspen healthcare team and guides them through the entire post-injury recovery process.” Read Less
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Local veterinarian becomes a patient in extraordinary circumstance

February 18, 2020
Local veterinarian Scott Schwarting of Aspen Animal Hospital followed his usual Thursday evening routine of going to the gym to take his favorite fitness class — except for one evening recently that turned out to be extraordinarily unusual.

“When I got home from the gym, I felt tightness and pain in my chest that I couldn’t relieve by sitting or lying down,” Scott recalled. “Minutes later, while I was on the phone with a colleague, the thought suddenly struck me: ‘I think I am having a heart attack.’”


Living only four minutes from Aspen Valley Hospital’s After-Hours Medical Care in Basalt, Scott immediately went there, where the After-Hours staff administered oxygen, checked his vitals and ran an ECG as they prepped him for an ambulance ride to the hospital. “What started as a seemingly normal visit became extraordinary,” recalled Bruce Bowen, MD, the attending physician that evening.

Attending nurse Cre Donovan, RN, was getting aspirin and an IV for Scott when Scott told Dr. Bowen that he was experiencing jaw pain. Cre quickly got the Quick read more or view full article center’s cardiac cart and attached the heart monitor when Scott suddenly became unconscious. Dr. Bowen began immediate CPR and Tabitha McKinney, radiology technologist, was standing by to apply the breathing, if necessary. “Scott experienced lethal heart rhythm with no pulse depicting clear-cut cardiac arrest,” Dr. Bowen said.

Pictured left to right: Cre Donovan, Dr. Bruce Bowen, Scott Schwarting and Tabitha McKinney

Cre then administered a shock to restart his heart via a defibrillator. “During the second round of CPR, Scott suddenly woke up and said, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you,’” Cre recalled.

Rushed to Valley View Hospital’s catheterization laboratory, Scott underwent surgery Thursday night. “I had one completely blocked artery and required two stents,” he said. Two days later, he was released to return home.


The following week, Scott returned to After-Hours Medical Care to thank Cre, Dr. Bowen and the rest of the staff. “It was very
emotional,” he said. “Just thinking how they were able to save my life was overwhelming. As a veterinarian, I realize they were doing their job; but as a patient, I have a great sense of gratitude and humility.”

The experience was also awe-inspiring for the After-Hours staff. “In my many years of nursing, Scott’s experience presented the worst and best scenarios all in a matter of minutes,” Cre said. “It was an incredible experience to see him alive and well, and it was quite amazing to see the positive results from what we’re doing and practicing.”

“Our staff did a great job jumping in and doing exactly what they needed to do,” Dr. Bowen added. “It was definitely one of the most dramatic and highly gratifying situations we have faced.”

Scott also made a point of reaching out to the ambulance crew chief and the assisting police officer. “They were flabbergasted I was talking with them just five days after the incident,” he said. “The more I relate my experience to others, the more fully I realize that I had a most unusual outcome. I am very fortunate I am alive.”


The week after his release from the hospital, Scott began a 36-session treatment program with AVH’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation team. “Melody Durham, RN, BSN; Julie Puchkoff, MS, CSCS; Jeanne Stough, MS, EP; and Julia Powell, RN, all played big roles in monitoring my health so I could get my energy back and return to a more normal function,” he said.

AVH’s Cardiac Rehab team worked with Scott to develop a customized treatment plan, incorporating light cardio movements initially, including a treadmill, as well as recumbent and upright bikes, rowing machines and elliptical equipment. During the latter stage of Scott’s recovery program, the team added movements from his favorite fitness class.

“The whole team is open, knowledgeable and accommodating,” Scott said. “I was very comfortable during my sessions. My AVH team provided expert, professional guidance and warm, friendly encouragement.”


Scott credits the quick thinking of AVH’s After-Hours Medical Care staff as key to his fast recovery. “Miraculously, I have no adverse effects, particularly relating to neurological functions,” he said. “AVH’s After-Hours Medical Care and Cardiac Rehab provide extraordinary care and excel at what they do.”

Pictured from left to right: Jeanne Stough, Julie Puchkoff, Scott Schwarting and Melody Durham.

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Ask The Expert: Kristy Bates, RDN

January 30, 2020

Kristy Bates, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Aspen Valley Hospital, on how wise and simple dietary decisions can help improve health and physical fitness.

What are some health benefits one might notice right away by eating more nutritious foods?

One of the first things you notice after making changes — such as reducing dietary sugar and fat or increasing antioxidants and fluid intake — is in your overall appearance. Nutrition can have a significant impact on the quality of your skin, hair and nails. Improved dietary choices can also quickly help treat symptoms of digestive discomfort or chronic digestive conditions. In addition, controlling portions, avoiding alcohol, enjoying a balanced breakfast each morning and choosing healthy snacks can boost energy and confidence, prevent mid-day “crashes” and improve concentration.

For many people, diets are hard to maintain for the long term. What are some strategies to keeping healthy resolutions?

Forget dieting. A lot of evidence shows that dieting does not produce long-term health improvement. Diets, especially fad diets, are rarely sustainable and may be detrimental to individuals Quick read more or view full article and their families. I encourage people to make lifestyle changes, eat mindfully and work with a qualified dietitian to set SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely – goals to empower them to become their own behavioral change expert. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. Eat intuitively and rely on hunger and satiety cues to nourish your body.

How can we eat healthier without spending extra money and time?

Healthy foods aren’t necessarily more expensive. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be very affordable, if you become familiar with seasonal offerings. Lower-priced canned and frozen fruits and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh. Just be sure to read the package’s ingredients list and nutrition fact label to avoid added sugar and excess salt and calories. As far as time goes, you can actually save time once you get in the habit of cooking your own meals rather than eating out. Plus, home-cooked meals are almost always healthier and more affordable than restaurant offerings, and preparing food can be so rewarding!

How can a registered dietitian help individuals improve their health?

A dietitian’s expert advice can focus on prevention or treatment of medical or behavioral conditions. For example, preventive nutritional counseling may focus on athletic performance or healthy aging, while a treatment approach may seek to address concerns with cognitive, digestive or heart health; weight management; food allergies; eating disorders; or medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer.

Tell us about the food workshops you plan to host.

This year, we are ramping up our cooking demonstrations, which will be held on the second Thursday of each month. They will be free to the public and focus on wellness, incorporating whole food recipes, kitchen gadgets and preparation methods. Look for our Dietitian Demos newspaper ads, check the AVH website, or contact me or Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Lauren Mitchell at 970.544.1145 to join our mailing list. Read Less
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Keeping Critical Care Close to Home

January 30, 2020

AVH receives Level III redesignation

Following its recent successful redesignation as a Level III Trauma Center, Aspen Valley Hospital continues its commitment to providing Roaring Fork Valley residents and visitors with round-the-clock access to emergency care.

“Our patients and their families often tell us how grateful they are for our trauma physicians, surgeons, care teams and facilities; and the redesignation means they will have access to these lifesaving resources,” said AVH Trauma Program Manager Karen Maciejko, RN, BSN. “We are also a designated critical access hospital and exceed Level III state trauma requirements with expanded services such as 24/7 orthopedic coverage and our Traumatic Brain Injury Program with six certified traumatic brain injury specialists.”

First certified in 1999, the trauma center’s redesignation signals that AVH achieves and maintains strict adherence to rigorous standards for emergency care. Staff works to continuously improve, performing practice reviews, engaging staff across the organization and coordinating efforts with AVH Trauma Medical Director Christopher Roseberry, MD.

Pictured above: Trauma Program Manager Karen Maciejko, RN, BSN.

In important ways, this highly collaborative process Quick read more or view full article reflects AVH’s overall approach to having a trauma care center encompassing the many departments and staff members that touch the lives of critically injured patients.

“Our review team commented positively on the level of engagement and dedication throughout the hospital,” Maciejko said, noting that AVH’s wide-ranging trauma program includes everything from mandatory quality reviews of all trauma cases to ongoing learning sessions for clinical providers, as well as community education programs focusing on helmet use and fall prevention.

“Everyone on the AVH team is so proud to have earned our redesignation as a Level III Trauma Center,” Maciejko said. “We are fortunate that we can continue to provide this crucial care right here close to home.” Read Less
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OrthoAspen & Hospital for Special Surgery: First Year Success

January 3, 2020
2019 was the first of many years in our new relationship with Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) that leverages the expertise and experience of the #1 orthopedic hospital in the country. In this “year one,” we laid the foundation for our future work together to provide the highest-quality musculoskeletal care for our valley and beyond. We have established a series of priorities that span the continuum of care, from musculoskeletal awareness and education in our community, to wellness and injury prevention, fitness testing and performance, to conservative care, surgical care, and rehabilitation and recovery. We have developed a plan for maintaining the community’s musculoskeletal health, improving quality of life while also reducing total healthcare costs.
We are very proud of OrthoAspen and our surgeons, who are top flight in their respective areas of expertise. Did you know Dr. Kazemi is the ONLY shoulder and elbow fellowship-trained surgeon on the Western Slope? Our goal is to surround our surgeons with the full spectrum of orthopedic services, and the Quick read more or view full article cutting-edge knowledge and research support from HSS. In the process, we can assure you, our community, the highest quality and most comprehensive services to support your active lifestyle are right here in your community, at your community hospital (and at our midvalley campus).
Specifically, this year we accomplished many early objectives, from establishing HSS Grand Rounds and the HSS eAcademy for education of our surgeons and staff; to jointly recruiting senior clinical staff to the OrthoAspen practice; to partnering with our local Skico and Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club (AVSC) to reduce and better manage injuries; to bringing the exciting DARI “markerless” motion technology to Aspen via a “pop-up” experience this spring; to launching the collaborative Sports Safety Program to support local student athletes, coaches and parents; to bringing the latest techniques and technologies to Aspen Valley Hospital and OrthoAspen, and much more.  
All of this work was accomplished by two organizations, working together, with a common and simple goal – to provide the best orthopedic care for our community. That is the essence of a successful relationship – a strong team with a common goal. And the best is yet to come.

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