Ask The Expert: Elizabeth (Betsy) Brew, MD, FACS

September 29, 2020

Detecting Breast Cancer Early With Screenings

Elizabeth (Betsy) Brew, MD, FACS, general surgeon at Aspen Valley Hospital, on the importance of breast health screenings and the satisfaction of helping women through an extraordinarily stressful time.

Why are regular breast health screenings so important for women?

Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the U.S. Ninety percent of these women have no family history of breast cancer, so screening is the most effective tool to detect cancer early, when treatment options and outcomes are best.

What is the #1 reason women avoid screenings, and what would you say to a woman who has that rationale?

Unfortunately, many women avoid screenings because they do not think they are at risk. They think if they do Quick read more or view full article not have a family history of breast cancer or if they are healthy, they won’t get breast cancer. To overcome this perception, I tell my patients that a mammogram and possibly whole breast ultrasound are still the best techniques that we have for early detection of breast cancer.

What are recommended guidelines for breast health screening?

I like the American Society of Breast Surgeons guidelines, which are relatively simple to follow. Basically, all women age 25 and older should have a formal risk assessment for breast cancer. Then at age 40, all women at average risk should start annual 3D screening mammograms. Women with dense breast tissue should consider supplemental imaging, such as an ultrasound. Women should continue annual mammograms until their life expectancy is less than 10 years. For women at higher risk, earlier screening and possibly breast MRI scans should be considered.

How would you describe AVH’s breast health services?

Our services are excellent. The Breast Center has state-of-the-art equipment, and we have radiologists specially trained in interpreting breast images — which is remarkable for a small hospital. If a woman needs care beyond imaging, our nurse navigators offer caring, individualized support. AVH also provides outstanding medical oncology care if there is a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Why did you choose to specialize in breast care and breast cancer surgery?

When I started in practice, there were very few women general surgeons. I joined a group in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in 1996 and was their first woman surgeon. As a result, my practice quickly filled with women, many with breast health issues. I also enjoy the multi-disciplinary approach to breast cancer treatment, which involves the patient, her family and friends, and her care team: surgeon, radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and genetic counselors. Most importantly, I appreciate being able to take care of women at a moment of great stress and help them realize they will likely be cured and can resume their normal lives.

How is your membership in Surgical Specialists of Colorado an advantage in treating breast cancer?

I started at AVH by covering trauma cases and quickly realized there was a need for a breast surgeon in the valley. I was amazed how many women were driving to Vail and Denver at such a stressful time in their lives. My experience as a partner of SSOC, combined with AVH’s resources, has allowed me to provide outstanding care for women in their own world. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To learn more about the Breast Center at AVH and breast health screenings, visit or call 970.544.1420.
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AVH Honored as “Baby-Friendly,” Six Years in a Row

September 29, 2020
New moms will continue to find a warm welcome at Aspen Valley Hospital, which was recently redesignated a Baby-Friendly Hospital by Baby-Friendly USA.
“Being a Baby-Friendly Hospital is the gold standard of maternity and infant care practices,” said Heather Knott, RN, Childbirth Educator and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant at AVH. “It says to women ? our patients, visitors and employees ? that everybody here will welcome you and help you with your breastfeeding needs.”
Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., is the U.S. authority for implementing a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. When AVH first earned the organization’s designation in 2015, we were among the first hospitals in Colorado to achieve this Quick read more or view full article prestigious honor.
The redesignation demonstrates that we continue to support, promote and protect breastfeeding by completing certain requirements, such as:
  • Informing pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding
  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
  • Feeding infants only breast milk unless medically indicated
  • Allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day
Besides offering familiar resources such as certified breastfeeding/lactation consultants and the recurring Bosom Buddies breastfeeding social and support group, AVH provides staff training, patient education programs and other ways to help new moms gain the information, confidence and skills they need to successfully breastfeed.
“Our support for breastfeeding moms extends beyond our Birth Center,” Knott noted. “A new mom might need to know how a surgical or imaging procedure might affect her ability to breastfeed. Or a new mom visiting the hospital might need to know if we have a safe place for breastfeeding. We make sure that any member of the AVH staff can help get answers to those kinds of questions.”
To learn more about AVH’s resources for parents, visit Read Less
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Aspen Valley Hospital & The Steadman Clinic Form Strategic Partnership

September 9, 2020

Creating a destination for world-class orthopaedic services and cutting-edge research in Aspen and the upper Roaring Fork Valley

The Steadman Clinic, in coordination with Orthopedic Care Partners (OCP), has formally partnered with Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) to deliver a full complement of world-class orthopaedic care services for the Aspen community. The new venture outlines areas of shared responsibility, which includes trauma coverage, while further expanding upon leading orthopaedic services within Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Following months of development, the new partnership between The Steadman Clinic and AVH was endorsed by a vote yesterday evening of the AVH Board of Directors. The agreement has a planned effective date of December 1, 2020. 

Quick read more or view full article /> Research and education, through Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI), are central to the partnership with plans to support the training of future orthopaedic surgeons and development of technologies to advance musculoskeletal health. SPRI has been awarded six National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, two Department of Defense (DoD) contracts, and is underway on five groundbreaking clinical trials. As a partner to SPRI, Aspen Valley Hospital will be pivotal to this ongoing research.

“This agreement brings together two premier healthcare providers, The Steadman Clinic and Aspen Valley Hospital, to deliver world-class orthopaedic services and cutting-edge research via SPRI to the Aspen community,” said Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of The Steadman Clinic and SPRI. “What really differentiates this partnership is the team of physicians that will be available to serve the community. We have brought together an impressive roster of fellowship-trained, sub-specialty care providers to serve patients in the Roaring Fork Valley. The physician roster will continue to expand based on the orthopaedic patient care needs of the community. By combining our respective orthopaedic programs and building a world-class orthopaedic ambulatory surgery center, we will create efficiencies and economies of scale, passing these benefits on to the Aspen community. Ultimately, the quality of this team of physicians and their focus on evidence-based medicine built upon best-in-class research and science is what makes this a landmark partnership and what matters most to the community.”

The team in Aspen includes existing AVH orthopaedic surgeons, physicians recruited to the area, as well as established physicians from The Steadman Clinic who will rotate in from Vail:
  • Marc J. Philippon, MD: Sports Medicine, Hip Disorders, Hip Arthroscopy
  • Dustin Anderson, MD: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Thos A. Evans, MD: Orthopaedic Interventionist of Spine & Joint, Regenerative Medicine Specialist
  • Jonathan A. Godin, MD, MBA: Shoulder, Knee, Hip and Sports Medicine Surgeon
  • Tom R. Hackett, MD: Complex Knee, Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon
  • Waqqar Khan-Farooqi, MD: Foot and Ankle, Trauma Care
  • Raymond H. Kim, MD: Adult Joint Reconstruction, Knee and Hip Arthroplasty
  • Jared Lee, MD: Shoulder, Knee, Hip and Sports Medicine
  • Peter J. Millett, MD, MSc: Shoulder, Knee, Elbow Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Matthew T. Provencher, MD: Complex Shoulder, Complex Knee and Sports Surgery
  • Joseph J. Ruzbarsky, MD: Shoulder, Knee, Elbow and Hip Preservation Surgeon
  • Kavi Sachar, MD: Hand, Wrist and Elbow Surgery
  • Randy W. Viola, MD: Hand, Wrist, Elbow & Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist
  • Thea Wojtkowski, MD: Hip, Hip Replacements, Trauma Care
Aspen Valley Hospital CEO Dave Ressler added, “The Vail Valley has long been a destination for renowned orthopaedic care. By combining the expertise of The Steadman Clinic and Vail Health, our hospital’s outstanding reputation, and Aspen’s visibility on the world stage, this partnership creates the perfect conditions for Aspen to join Vail as an international destination for world-class orthopaedic care. Our local community will benefit greatly by having these enhanced capabilities in our own backyard.”

“We have long been interested in expanding to Aspen,” said Dr. Philippon. “In fact, Dr. Steadman and I discussed it years ago. At long last, this partnership makes it possible for us to bring our patient-centered care and evidence-based medicine to the people of the Roaring Fork Valley. We are fortunate to have an outstanding team of physicians joining the practice. Together, we will ensure the highest caliber of clinical and orthopaedic services to Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Add our commitment to research and education and we know this will be a relationship that benefits all involved.”

New Ambulatory Surgery Center in Willits

The new partnership allows The Steadman Clinic, Aspen Valley Hospital and Vail Health to extend and enhance their premier orthopaedic services to Basalt’s Willits Town Center through development of a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center, clinic space, a SPRI research hub and rehabilitative services. These new facilities will make it easier than ever for patients to receive care close to home and will also serve the orthopaedic needs of professional and aspiring athletes from across the country and around the world. Features of the new ambulatory surgery center include four operating rooms with two additional shelled for future growth; nine pre-op rooms; and 14 total recovery rooms. The ambulatory surgery center is a collaborative effort among Aspen Valley Hospital, The Steadman Clinic, Orthopedic Care Partners and Vail Health.

“Over the past three decades, the partnership between The Steadman Clinic, SPRI and Vail Health has been instrumental in developing world-class medical destinations in Vail, Edwards and our new facility being built in Summit County,” said Will Cook, President and CEO of Vail Health. “We are looking forward to bringing our expertise and knowledge in the medical destination realm to this new venture with Aspen Valley Hospital, a fellow independent mountain hospital.”
The Steadman Clinic partnered last November with Orthopedic Care Partners (OCP) to provide management expertise and access to investor capital. Growth and expansion of The Steadman Clinic’s brand were among the key goals in establishing the partnership with OCP. The working relationship with OCP will positively impact orthopaedic patients in the Aspen community as The Steadman Clinic establishes a meaningful presence there.

OCP Chief Executive Officer Rich Gilbert, MD, said, “Our team of physicians has benefited greatly since we aligned with Dr. Marc Philippon and The Steadman Clinic team last fall. This new partnership with Aspen Valley Hospital represents the type of growth and expansion that can be transformational for the region and help even more people stay active longer. Extending the reach of The Steadman Clinic and its exceptional physicians is incredibly significant, and we look forward to building on this partnership.”

About The Steadman Clinic

Headquartered in Vail, Colorado, The Steadman Clinic is a world-renowned orthopaedic clinic with additional facilities located in Frisco and Edwards, Colorado. The clinic specializes in sports medicine including knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, hand, spine, foot and ankle injuries and joint replacement. With 17 elite physicians who practice the latest, evidence-based treatments, The Steadman Clinic’s experience and research have led to significant advances in the fields of orthopaedics and regenerative sports medicine. The Steadman Clinic treats patients from all walks of life, including recreational and professional athletes from all over the world. To learn more, visit

About Steadman Philippon Research Institute

Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) is dedicated to keeping people of all ages physically active through orthopaedic research and education. With an enduring focus on applied clinical translation, SPRI is dedicated to discovering new therapies, treatments and cures that can be brought to patients in a clinical setting. We utilize the latest regenerative medicine techniques—basic science studies at the cellular level—to investigate the causes and effects of degenerative arthritis, techniques of musculoskeletal regeneration and healing processes. SPRI also utilizes state-of-the-art Biomotion and Robotics technologies, magnetic resonance imaging and over 30 years of patient outcomes data in its bench-to-bedside approach to research. The 501(c)(3) charitable organization is one of the most published organizations in sports medicine research and education. To learn more, visit

About Aspen Valley Hospital

Founded in 1891, Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) is one of the most sophisticated rural hospitals in the country. With 25 beds, AVH is designated as a critical access hospital and level III trauma center, meeting the needs of the Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley communities, plus thousands of visitors from around the world every year. Combining the warmth and friendliness of a small town with the technical expertise of a major medical center, AVH and its Network of Care locations in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt, have been recognized with numerous awards, including a Five-Star Rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, among others. AVH offers a full range of services with board-certified specialists in 25 fields of medicine, with expanded expertise in orthopedics and sports medicine. For over 129 years, Aspen Valley Hospital has been working to deliver extraordinary healthcare in an environment of excellence, compassion and trust. Learn more at

About Orthopedic Care Partners (OCP)

Orthopedic Care Partners (OCP) is the leading partner for high-performing, quality and patient-focused orthopedic surgery practices. OCP provides a full spectrum of services and enhanced resources to help its family of practices thrive and grow while fostering the unique identities that have made them so successful. To learn more, visit

About Vail Health
Vail Health is a nonprofit community health care system with 13 locations across Eagle and Summit counties. Vail Health offers a 56-bed hospital, 24/7 emergency care, helipad, urgent care clinics, cancer care, breast centers, cardiovascular services, surgery, childbirth, physical therapy through Howard Head Sports Medicine, primary and specialty care through Colorado Mountain Medical and more. Locally operated and governed by a volunteer board of directors, Vail Health has committed $60 million to the creation and oversight of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and $43 million to evidence-based research through the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. For more information, visit
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Some Good News | A Message from CEO Dave Ressler

September 1, 2020

Above all else, Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) is a community hospital with the singular purpose of meeting the healthcare needs of local residents (full-time, part-time, sometime), and our visitors. In doing so, our staff and physicians derive tremendous satisfaction and professional pride, working as a team to deliver the extraordinary care that our community has learned to expect.

On July 31st, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ranked nearly 3,500 hospitals across the country for the quality of patient-reported experience for 2019, utilizing a 5-star rating system, and they reported the results on the Hospital Compare website. AVH is very proud to report that we are one of only 266 hospitals in the nation to receive a 5-star rating Quick read more or view full article for patient experience, and we are among only four hospitals in the state to receive this prestigious recognition.

In addition, AVH has also been awarded two Guardian of Excellence awards by Press Ganey, recognizing our “phenomenal performance” also based on patient-reported experience. We received these awards for services provided in our Emergency Department and for patients who have been admitted to AVH, during the period April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020. These awards recognize hospitals that reach the 95th percentile, or the top 5%, of over 1,000 hospitals for which Press Ganey monitors patient experience.

Needless to say, we are very proud of these accomplishments, and it is no wonder that pride in patient care is consistently ranked the highest when we ask our employees what matters most to them, with 99% reporting they are proud to tell people they work at AVH. It's also why 98% of our employees would recommend AVH to their friends and family when they need care. During a healthcare crisis of historic proportions, it is comforting to know AVH stands ready to provide the extraordinary healthcare that we always have.

Speaking of our healthcare crisis, AVH continues to support our Pitkin County Public Health Department by providing medical input from our physicians, through a Medical Advisory Team, and by providing community testing. The good news is that our numbers continue to reflect a lower incidence of viral spread in the community. In fact, the Coronameter for the community continues to indicate we are at a cautious level, leaning toward comfortable, and the AVH capacity matrix indicates that we are comfortable in all three categories (inpatients, daily visits and sick employees). Last week, we tested 200 people for COVID, of which 3 were positive; and over the past 14 days, only 1.86% of our tests have been positive. That is great news for our community, and our efforts toward containment have been validated as successful. Looking ahead, we continue to explore new testing modalities, as part of a three-county and four-hospital regional strategy, that will provide timelier and more accessible testing. This is especially important as our kids head carefully back to school.

On a final note of great importance, we look forward to announcing the specifics of our new partnership with The Steadman Clinic very soon. We are putting the final touches on our mutual plans for the future of orthopedics and bringing cutting-edge research to the upper valley, serving our community and patients from across the globe. Stay tuned and watch for our exciting announcements.

As your community hospital, we are proud to continue our tradition of providing extraordinary healthcare, while we meet the challenges of healthcare today, and plan for the future.

Dave Ressler
CEO, Aspen Valley Hospital Read Less
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Staying Healthy This Flu Season

August 31, 2020
With flu season approaching, the CDC and health experts are advising to get a plan in place for a flu shot this fall. This year brings the threat of dual pandemics, or a “twindemic,” of both COVID-19 and seasonal flu. Ensuring you have an influenza immunization will better prepare you for a healthy winter season.

Pitkin County Public Health is starting outreach now, and coordinating with Community Health Services for flu shot clinics by appointment starting this month. Public Health is advocating for increased influenza vaccination coverage rates in our community to protect our healthcare system and residents from the additional stress and surge of influenza hospitalizations. This is particularly important considering that the impact of co-infection with flu and COVID viruses is unknown.
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Adults over 65 tend to face the largest burden of severe flu disease. Some of this risk can be mitigated by vaccination, which has been shown to consistently reduce the risk of hospitalizations and medical visits. Discuss your prevention plan with your doctor, and explore the availability of flu shots in our area by visiting VaccineFinder.

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