Our Volunteers Make a Difference Every Day

July 1, 2018
Volunteers are at the heart of what we do at Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH). Here are experiences from two of our volunteer unit leaders who make a difference in the lives of the hospital’s patients and staff.

When Deborah Konig became an AVH volunteer about three years ago, she was drawn to Sally’s Gift Shop. “I was in retail for part of my professional life, so this was a natural fit for me,” said Konig, who is now Unit Leader of the shop’s volunteers.

True to form, she goes out of her way to help visitors select gifts for patients. Occasionally, she also receives phone calls from people who are out of town and want to send a gift. In those situations, she will take photos of several items — the shop has an array of cards, balloons, toys, books, candles, seasonal items and more — that might be appropriate. Then, she will send the photos to the customer, handle the sale remotely and make sure the purchased items are delivered to the Quick read more or view full article patient’s room.

“What I like about volunteering in the gift shop is that you’re helping out and putting a smile on someone’s face,” Konig said. “Plus, it’s a pretty easy job; the only qualifications are that you be kind and cheerful.”

‘It’s a good feeling’
Kindness and cheerfulness are also required for the good work done by volunteers in AVH’s Emergency Department. The environment there, according to Unit Leader Linda Waag, is greatly varied and often fast-paced.

“You get a little bit of everything, and it’s never boring,” Waag said. “Some days when I get home, I’m just flat-out tired. But I know that I’ve done a good day’s work of helping out, that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life and done something worthwhile. It’s a good feeling.”

That may explain why Linda has been a volunteer in the Emergency Department for 20 years. When she started, volunteers were more directly involved with patient care: helping to lift patients off gurneys, cutting boots off injured skiers and assisting with suturing. While that has changed, volunteers still have plenty to do.

“We bring a lot of comfort and love to our patients,” Waag said. “Some of our patients are frightened or don’t have a friend or family member with them. Volunteers can sit and reassure them in a way that our doctors and nurses may not have time to do. That warm blanket and smiling face can be very comforting.”

AVH is currently seeking volunteers for the gift shop and important clinical areas such as the Emergency Department and Same Day Surgery. To learn about these and other exciting volunteer opportunities, please call 970.544.1296 or visit to download a volunteer application. Read Less
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Whitcomb Terrace:

July 1, 2018
Assisted living -- with emphasis on living!

The request, when she first heard it, struck Maggie Gerardi as both unusual and wonderful. As director of Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living, Gerardi was accustomed to acting on requests from residents interested in visiting local art galleries, restaurants, shops and events.

In this instance, though, a resident wanted something out of the ordinary. “He used to be a snowmobile enthusiast, and he really wanted to go out on a snowmobile again,” Gerardi said. “It was important to him, so we and the staff at T-Lazy-7 Ranch made it happen, and he had a great time.”

Such personal touches are a hallmark of Whitcomb Terrace, which opened in 1990 as Aspen’s first assisted living facility. Over nearly three decades, Whitcomb Terrace has maintained its mission of encouraging residents to live as actively and independently as possible and to provide opportunities and resources to help them do so.

Staff members plan outings to sites, shops and events. Residents’ loved ones are always welcome to visit and Quick read more or view full article share a delicious meal in the dining room. Most importantly, volunteers from the community bring in educational programs, music, arts and crafts often, while area businesses offer services and programs to support residents’ health and happiness. For instance, Aspen Music Festival graciously donates tickets to concerts throughout the summer, a highlight for the residents and the volunteers who accompany them.

“We are really blessed with a community that cares so much, as our volunteers and local businesses prove time after time,” Gerardi said.

Helping residents stay involved
Residents can also be proactively involved in the community. For example, one resident attends classes at a local college — and another teaches college classes. In addition, the Pitkin County Senior Center is located in the same building as Whitcomb Terrace, giving residents easy access to those programs. With so much to do, many residents report feeling more socially engaged and having a greater sense of community after moving to Whitcomb Terrace.

There are other benefits, as well. At Whitcomb Terrace, assisted living includes employees taking care of residents’ housekeeping and managing medications. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day. There’s even a medical director, Joshua Seymour, MD, who makes “house calls” and staff who continually oversee residents.

“Most of our staff have been with us for years, so they have longterm, caring relationships with our residents,” Gerardi said. “That’s not what most people expect of assisted living; they expect it to be impersonal and institutional, which could not be further from the truth at Whitcomb Terrace. We strive to keep our residents independent, engaged and happy — even if that involves a ride on a snowmobile.”

To find out more about Whitcomb Terrace, call 970.544.1530 or email Read Less
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Take Charge of your Health!

July 1, 2018
AVH health fairs offer important health screenings at big savings!

As part of its vision to help make our community the healthiest in the nation, Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) is proud to announce its schedule of 2018 public health fairs with free and low-cost medical screenings.

“At AVH, our mission is to put information in the hands of individuals so they are empowered to take charge of their health,” said Jennifer Slaughter, AVH Director of Community Relations. “By giving people free and low-cost access to a variety of screenings and educational materials, we can help members of our community maintain and improve their health. In the long term, that benefits not only the participants but also the greater community.”

The June health fair, running June 7, 9 and 10, offers important healthcare screenings and is open to area residents age 18 and older. A popular feature of the fair is the blood draws, offered at significantly reduced prices:

-The “health fair profile” measures 32 metabolic functions, including complete blood count, cholesterol Quick read more or view full article levels, kidney function, checks for infection, anemia and more — $65
- PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test for men age 50 and older helps determine prostate cancer risk — $35
-Vitamin D deficiency screening measures both D2 and D3 levels — $45
- C-reactive protein tests for vascular inflammation, a cardiac risk — $35
- Take-home colorectal cancer screening kit — $25

NOTE: Before participating in one of these events, please check your insurance benefits to understand if your plan covers health fair screenings. AVH will not submit to your insurance, this is the individual’s responsibility.

In addition, the event on Sunday, June 10, at AVH will be much larger, including free blood pressure screenings; eye and vision exams; height, weight and body mass index checks; skin and oral cancer examinations; and orthopedic screenings. Dedicated healthcare providers, physician assistants and nurses will be on hand to perform these screenings and offer information and education about additional health services at AVH and in the community. Topics covered in the past, and anticipated for June include:

- After-Hours Medical Care clinic in Basalt l Breast cancer prevention and early detection
-Diabetes education
- Home care l Midvalley Surgery Center & Imaging Center
- Nutrition services
- Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) l Speech and language therapy
- Traumatic injury prevention

Please check the AVH website for a complete list of participating organizations closer to the event at

In the past, AVH health fairs have attracted a total of over 1,400 participants, and organizers expect to exceed that number this year.

“Health fairs are inclusive for all members of our community, and we try to make the fair as convenient and cost-effective as possible,” Slaughter said. “They really become feel-good events. You see your neighbors, your friends. It’s a great opportunity to do something good for yourself and feel part of a caring community." Read Less
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Health Fair serves over 939 community members!

June 15, 2018
The annual Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) Health Fair spanned three days in early June, providing access to both the upper and midvalley communities. Thursday, June 7, and Sunday, June 10, served the Aspen area at Aspen Valley Hospital, while Saturday, June 9, brought together the midvalley community at the El Jebel Community Center.

A highlight of the Health Fair, blood draws were offered at greatly discounted prices, and 939 community members took advantage of this opportunity to care for their health. Throughout the three-day affair, nearly 100 volunteers pitched in by drawing blood and helping with the flow of the event from start to finish. Because of their hard work, we were able to open the doors early and keep appointments running on time or ahead of schedule each day! Thank you, volunteers! Since those getting their blood drawn had to fast 12 hours prior to their blood draw, it was extremely impactful to have such a productive process.

On Sunday, June 10, our biggest day of the fair, nine free health screenings Quick read more or view full article and 11 information stations were set up throughout the hospital. AVH physicians, skilled staff members, community physicians and community groups screened eager participants in a variety of different areas. In addition, local organizations connected with community members on a number of health and wellness topics. Many happy faces were seen throughout the hospital on Sunday.

With another successful Health Fair in the books, AVH is grateful to the community for making the fair a part of your lives. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to care for you!

SAVE THE DATES: If you weren’t able to join us this June, please make plans to join us at the Midvalley Health Fair on Saturday, October 13, in El Jebel or at the Senior Health Fair on Friday, November 2, at Aspen Valley Hospital (must be age 60+).

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Aspen Bariloche Medical Exchange Program

March 18, 2018
Aspen Valley Hospital is proud to participate in one of the few medical exchanges organized through the International Sister Cities Program. This exchange program was formed shortly after San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, was named one of Aspen’s Sister Cities on November 1, 2002, following one of Argentina’s worst economic disasters.

During this economic tragedy, the value of the Argentine peso declined to less than one quarter of its value, and funding for the only public hospital in Bariloche, Hospital Zonal Ramón Carrillo, outdated and already facing minimal government financial support, was faced with the daunting task of being the only public medical provider to more than 300,000 indigent people in the Bariloche community and surrounding region.

Through this new Sister Cities relationship, the medical professionals at the Ramón Carrillo Hospital were able to contact Aspen Valley Hospital to make a desperate plea for help. From that request, the Aspen Bariloche Medical Exchange Program was born.

In early 2003 Mark Purnell, Quick read more or view full article MD visited Bariloche to explore the possibility of creating a medical exchange program. At the Hospital Zonal Ramón Carrillo, he found a government-supported hospital that had very little improvement since its creation in 1938; equipped with only the minimal medical equipment and not enough staff for the growing number of patients. Fortunately, he also discovered a very dedicated and well-trained team of medical professionals who were interested in participating in an exchange of ideas and medical technology. Shortly thereafter, Aspen Valley Hospital, Aspen Sports Medicine Foundation and Aspen Sister Cities teamed up to send the first of several shipments of medical supplies to the Hospital Zonal Ramón Carrillo.

Since the first visit to Bariloche, the Aspen Bariloche Medical Exchange Program has annually exchanged delegations of medical professionals to Aspen and Bariloche. February 25 - March 8, 2018, we welcomed the following delegation to the Roaring Fork Valley:
German Guaresti, MD - Pediatrics & Hospital Director
Enrique Santillan, DPT - Director of Physical Therapy & Hospital Administration
Jesica Vasquez, PT - Physical Therapist
Juan Licari, DDS - Dentist
Noelí Tinti, MD - Anesthesiologist
Tomas Trapani, MD & Ernesto Barbeito, MD - Orthopedic Surgeons

On behalf of Aspen Sister Cities and the Aspen Sports Medicine Foundation, we would like to thank the many volunteers who worked so hard to make the 2018 Aspen Bariloche Medical Exchange Program such a success! These exchanges are possible because our volunteers donate their time, expertise and provide financial/in-kind contributions.

We especially thank…
Mark & Kelley Purnell, MD
Griff Smith & Lala Caffarone of Aspen Sister Cities
Aspen Chamber Resort Association
David Ressler and Staff at Aspen Valley Hospital
Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation
Tito Liotta, MD and Staff at Valley View Hospital
Jim Coombs and Staff at Grand River Hospital
Brian Davidson, MD and Staff at St. Mary’s Hospital
Robert & Candice Christensen, DDS
Leelee von Stade, MD
Krista Fox, OTR/L & Tom Hughes
Kimber Kurr, PT, DPT, PCS
Alyssa Franklin, PharmD, MBA, BCPS & James Ibbotson
Chris Beck, MD
Vincent Franze, MD
Mary Harris, MD and Staff at Aspen Medical Care
Brandan Isley of Acumed
Aspen Skiing Company
Stapleton Sports
Craig Melville and the Mountain Chalet
Rotary Clubs of Aspen & Bariloche
The Red Onion
Sarah and Matt Gallagher of University of Colorado
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