The last phase of the "middle hospital" came in early 1962 when the main portion of the old Citizens' Hospital was torn down and replaced with a final wing that joined the two earlier phases. The entire town turned out with trucks and shovels to help haul away the rubble. But many old-timers mourned its passing. With it went the end of a gentler era in which horses and buggies parked out back, the sheets blew dry on the lines, homemade gooseberry jam was served for breakfast, and fresh fish from the Roaring Fork was served for dinner.
The middle hospital was a 25-bed facility, having twice as many beds as its predecessor. However, the ski industry brought more and more visitors, and there was soon the need for an even larger hospital. No one had anticipated the incredible population surge that hit Aspen. By the late '60s, there was a permanent population of 5,000 people and an annual visitor total of 250,000 people. In the winter, many of them ended up in the corridors of the hospital waiting for treatment. Jan Ortega, Director of Physical Therapy at AVH, remembers that the middle hospital was hopelessly overcrowded by the early 70s. "PT had a little corner in the ER, and that was it. Really, we had no space at all; treatments were done in the halls," she said. The maternity ward was so sub-standard due to overcrowding that authorities threatened to close it.
In July of 1973, after two years of study, the hospital board recommended that a new site for the hospital be selected. They cited the high cost and unpredictability of remodeling, future hospital needs that would exceed the seven acres at the present site, and the fact that, in all probability for only $500,000 more than a remodel, an entirely new facility could be built.
Ultimately, land was acquired on Castle Creek Road, and a hospital district was formed that could issue bonds for financing the bulk of the new building. The Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, under the leadership of President Edgar Stern, Fundraising Chairman Wilton Jaffee, Sr., and Executive Director Eve Homeyer, raised $1.5 million to help fund the construction of the new building. The Foundation's theme was "Join the '91ers," echoing the request that the businessmen of 1891 contribute a day's pay to Aspen's first hospital.
On October 25, 1977, the new 49-bed hospital was dedicated at its new home on Castle Creek Road. At the time of the opening, the board was comprised of James Bulkley, Rose Stanton, Wilton Jaffee, Sr., Russell Pielstick, and Dr. Robert Oden.
Today, AVH is considered one of the most sophisticated small hospitals in the country, and community pride is as evident as it was in the 1890s. An un-named reporter for the Rocky Mountain Sun said it best in September 1891. The following quote refers to the new Citizens' Hospital. "The average citizen acquiesces in the general belief that such an institution, built as it was by private subscription and standing with its doors open for afflicted humanity, is an honor to the city and a most welcome abode for those in misfortune who enjoy its rare benefits."
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