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COVID-19 Community Update: A Message from CEO Dave Ressler

March 31, 2020

Dear Community,
 
Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) continues to see relatively small numbers of patients with respiratory conditions related to COVID-19. This is good news. In the three plus weeks since the first cases were identified, it is clear we would otherwise be seeing a greater surge if not for your efforts to help slow the spread.
 
Unfortunately, we are beginning to see more severe symptoms and critically ill patients, a reality related to the life-cycle of the virus. The small percentage of affected patients who require intensive care for their condition (5-12% in the U.S.), often do so at around 10-12 days from the date of onset. These may be the patients we are beginning to see. Tragically, we have already had Quick read more or view full article two deaths in the community. The lesson is that each unnecessary exposure to this virus represents a threat to the life of a community member; the stakes are clear. Thankfully, the community has overwhelmingly responded and is abiding by, if not embracing, the painful lifestyle changes to fight this battle.
 
As your community hospital, it is most essential now, as always, that our community knows we are here for you when you need us. We have postponed elective procedures and services, in the interest of hospital readiness and social distancing, for which we greatly appreciate our community’s understanding and patience. It was simply the right thing to do. And we have closed the Snowmass Clinic in order to redeploy resources to our Respiratory Evaluation Tent. But to be clear, the hospital remains open and prepared to manage your urgent and emergency needs, of any kind and variety.
 
Even during a global pandemic, injuries and illnesses still occur, and diseases are not suspended. We are here for all of these needs, just as we always have been. With careful planning and extra processes, we are able to separate respiratory patients from our general patient population and maintain a safe environment for all.
 
For those in our community with respiratory symptoms, we and your local physicians want you to ask questions, stay informed, closely monitor your condition, report your symptoms to the Pitkin County COVID-19 Symptoms Tracker, and seek assistance for managing your symptoms when they become more difficult, or severe. Or critical. Your hospital and healthcare community are ready today and are continually preparing for tomorrow, to meet the needs of our patients with the COVID-19 virus. To help you understand all of the resources that are available to support you, we have provided the information you need in this newsletter. We hope you find it useful, and we invite you to visit our website for more information and resources.
 
During these uncertain and dark times, particularly when our community is separated and often alone, our lights will steadily shine from the hill up Castle Creek Road.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dave Ressler

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A Letter to Our Community from AVH and Our Medical Staff

March 24, 2020

To Our Patients and Community Members:
 
As your local medical providers, we are reaching out to you to express our full support for what might feel like drastic measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community.
 
On March 23rd, Pitkin County released an amended public order that establishes a “stay at home” provision, along with other measures, to enhance social distancing and reduce viral transmission. Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) and our physicians stand unified in full support of these additional requirements. We know that this virus is here in our local population, and that it is spreading. Orders on social distancing, limits on group size, widespread closures except for essential businesses and operations, closing our town to tourism Quick read more or view full article — it can work. It is the best chance we have to keep the hospital from becoming overwhelmed so that we can continue to care for you, your family and your friends.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought one of the greatest challenges in our lifetimes to medicine and to our community. We, your hospital and your medical providers, are working extremely hard to address this virus — by caring for those who are experiencing symptoms, helping prevent it in those who aren’t, and preparing to manage what may unfold in the coming weeks.
 
AVH and our medical providers also understand the importance of community testing, and we support the work of our Pitkin County Incident Management Team (IMT) to identify effective testing solutions that do not further strain our severely limited testing supplies and Personal Protective Equipment. Many of our hospital-based physicians are working with the hospital and county to identify new testing methods that will allow for more widely-distributed testing. The good news is that new testing methods are rapidly emerging that can return test results within hours instead of days. We are one of the first communities to be in line for these tests as they become available following FDA approval, thanks to our IMT.
 
We are standing on the front lines of this pandemic, and we are asking each of you to stand with us. Stay informed. Wash your hands. Isolate yourself if you feel ill. Avoid going out for non-essential reasons, and maintain six feet of separation when you must go out. It will save lives.
 
 
Yours in Good Health,
 
Aspen Valley Hospital and Our Medical Staff
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COVID-19 Community Update: We need your help!

March 19, 2020

A Message from CEO Dave Ressler

Dear Community Members,
 
The last 10 days, which seem much longer, have been a whirlwind of activity as we respond to the intrusion and the enormous threat of COVID-19 in our community.

Immediately upon identification of the virus in Aspen, a Unified Command Center, called an Incident Management Team (IMT) was established to guide the actions of our public health, healthcare, governmental, and law enforcement agencies in a coordinated response that was staffed and resourced virtually overnight.
 
Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) is working through the IMT to align our efforts as a hospital to assure that we are addressing the healthcare needs Quick read more or view full article that will be the downstream effect of this outbreak.
 
For our part, AVH is working hard to prepare for the influx of patients that we know are coming. We have been developing “surge plans” to make the best use of all available resources, including staffing, space, equipment, and supplies. And we have plans in place to work with hospitals across the region and the state to transfer patients who require a higher level of care or if we exceed our capacity. And the IMT is working with state and federal agencies to access additional supplies and prepare for non-traditional treatment sites should they become necessary.
 
AVH has also established an “Alternative Respiratory Evaluation” site on our campus, in order to determine if patients with COVID-19 symptoms need to be referred to our Emergency Department for further evaluation and treatment, including hospitalization, or if they can isolate themselves and recover safely at home.
 
In order to protect AVH’s patients, staff and physicians so that we remain ready to provide emergency and necessary medical care to our community, and treat patients with COVID-19 respiratory symptoms who need us, we have postponed elective and non-urgent surgeries, tests, and services. This will both limit the amount of unnecessary access to the hospital and support our community goals of social distancing and avoiding public places. However, because we know that our community still requires routine physician contact, in many cases, we are utilizing telehealth technology and other communications to provide virtual consultations through our physician practices.
 
For all of our efforts, both as a hospital and through the IMT, our hospital and healthcare system are at risk of being overrun if our community does not achieve strict compliance with the Public Health Order and the essential components of social distancing, maintaining proper hygiene, avoiding groups, and self-isolation for those with symptoms of illness.
 
This is where we need you, all of you, and all of us, to do our part to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community. In the absence of these efforts, we can expect to see an exponential increase in the number of people who require hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and supportive care for respiratory conditions, including pneumonia, ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and other complications. This is particularly the case for our most vulnerable – those who are elderly and have underlying conditions. If this virus is allowed to progress unabated, it will overwhelm our medical system, here and across the state and country, with the dire consequences as we have seen in other countries.
 
We have to rise to meet this threat. NOW. Our Governor and our IMT have already taken dramatic steps to reduce social interactions and the potential for viral spread. And more restrictions are possible. But it will take every member of the community to do their part and be responsible for their own actions. For more information about what you can do, please refer to the online resources below, or call our local hotline if you have specific questions.
 
Working together, we all need to be part of the solution. Please do your part.

Dave Ressler
Aspen Valley Hospital CEO
PLEASE TAKE THESE PRECAUTIONS
  • Practice Social Distancing: Maintain at least 6 feet between you and others. Do not gather in groups of 10 or more.
  • Voluntary Home Isolation: Isolation remains the best prevention for the spread of any communicable disease. Stay home when ill with respiratory disease symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath or severe lower respiratory illness with unknown cause.
  • Respiratory Etiquette: Cough into your elbow. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
  • Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blow ing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid Touching Your Face: This includes eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently-touched surfaces and objects with Clorox- or Lysol-like wipe.
LOCAL INFORMATION
  • To answer questions and concerns, please call the Tri-county Community Coronavirus Hotline at 970.429.6186 (staffed daily from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm).
  • Pitkin Alert: Text “CVIRUS” to 888-777
  • Pitkin County Public Health website
  • Pitkin County Public Health Facebook page
  • For operational and access updates from Aspen Valley Hospital, visit our website
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Keeping Young Athletes at the Top of Their Game

March 3, 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 Quick read more or view full article training support, including injury prevention, emergency care, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries.

SPECIALIZED CARE, SAFER PROGRAMS

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 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.

BOOSTING AVSC’S COMPETITIVE EDGE

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.




Erin Young evaluates the shoulder movement of Anders Weiss, a National Comp Nordic skier at AVSC.

“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.

PEAK PERFORMANCE FOR AHS ATHLETES

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 high level, 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.”

Celty Fitterer helps an athlete with a pre-game stretch before the 2015 Boys 4A Lacrosse Championship at Invesco Field. Photo by: Leah Moriaty.

“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.”

“Injuries are never an easy situation,” Celty said. “Through the collaboration with AVH, I get our athletes on the best treatment path immediately and work toward complete recovery with no lingering effects. Then I monitor athletes’ performances post-injury with individualized therapies specially designed to their unique situations to avoid setbacks.”

EDUCATING ATHLETES AND THE COMMUNITY

In keeping with AVH’s mission of promoting wellness, Celty looks forward to continuing to collaborate on presentations designed to bring awareness of functional movement and musculoskeletal health and wellness to more area student athletes. This initiative will integrate research and programming from HSS’ Sports Safety workshops, another benefit of the affiliation between AVH/OrthoAspen and HSS. Plans are to roll out across AHS teams and to other active community groups as well.

“We have a very active, outdoor-focused community with many young athletes who are rising stars,” Celty said. “We want to especially educate young athletes and active residents of all ages on injury prevention, proper training techniques and general performance guidelines.” Read Less
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What you need to know about the flu and novel coronavirus

March 3, 2020
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this flu season has been one of the worst in years. And now, news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has dominated the headlines and raised alarm around the world. Amy Carter, RN, BSN, CIC, Infection Prevention Specialist at Aspen Valley Hospital, answers your pressing questions about both illnesses.

Q: What is the current outlook for the flu season and how long will it last?
A: Flu season typically lasts through May. We usually see a significant decline in cases one week after the ski lifts close. However, we’ve already seen a massive reduction in the number of flu cases since the novel coronavirus Quick read more or view full article outbreak.

Q: Why is that?
A:
I hope people are much more aware of disease prevention, and they are taking appropriate precautions. They are being careful to wash their hands several times a day, or using hand sanitizer regularly, and staying home when they are sick.

Q: So, is it too late to get a flu shot?
A:
It’s never too late, and people should still consider getting one. Just because we’re seeing a decrease in the number of cases doesn’t mean that you can’t still contract the flu. The current flu shot has a 45 percent efficacy rate which is good. One more reminder: If you’re traveling to the Southern Hemisphere this summer, it’s important to get a flu shot before you go since the seasons are reversed.

Q: What are the symptoms of the flu, and how do these differ from the common cold?
A:
Flu symptoms can include fever, chills, muscle or body aches, headaches and extreme fatigue. Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Sneezing is also more common with colds.

Q: If I believe I have been exposed to the flu, what should I do?
A:
If you have a fever, it’s important to stay home. In general, you shouldn’t return to work or go out in public until 24 hours after a fever breaks without the assistance of medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen. If you have the flu, you will typically have a fever for several days. It’s also critical to hydrate. Of course, consult your doctor if your symptoms don’t seem to be improving or if you have any concerns.

Q: What are some steps I can take to lessen my odds of contracting the flu?
A:
Wash your hands regularly. Sneeze into your sleeve or into a tissue. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. And try to stay away from people coughing or exhibiting other symptoms of illness.

Q: What is the current status of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our area? Should I be concerned?
A:
Colorado has not yet experienced a case of COVID-19, but health officials anticipate that it is only a matter of time before cases emerge. According to the CDC and Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE), at present, the risk to the general public is low and Colorado has no cases. This is a rapidly evolving situation. For more information, you can refer to the Pitkin County Public Health website or the CDC website.

Q: Will the flu shot I took earlier in the season help prevent the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A:
No. The flu shot only helps prevent the flu. The COVID-19 virus is currently considered to be airborne, and it has spread by person-to-person contact. Wearing face masks helps prevent the spread of illness from you to others—more than protecting you from other people. Good hand washing and the use of respiratory etiquette (covering your cough or sneeze and washing your hands) are your best protection from contracting the novel coronavirus or any illness from other people.

Q: Who is at greatest risk for suffering the most severe complications of the flu and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A:
The groups particularly at risk overlap for both. They include the elderly and anyone with a chronic medical condition or considered to be immuno-compromised. Very young children are also a vulnerable population for flu, however, COVID-19 has had no fatal effects for children under 9 years of age.

Q: What actions are Aspen Valley Hospital and its Network of Care providers taking to address the flu season and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A:
We offer flu shots to every patient, and we track vaccinations for the staff in order to help prevent them from contracting or spreading the flu. We are closely monitoring the novel coronavirus in case the situation becomes more serious and could put our community at risk. AVH staff are trained for situations involving highly contagious diseases, and we have strict policies and protocols in place. As a precaution, we are increasing quantities of supplies and are continuously monitoring stock levels. We are also in regular communication with our local, state and national public health officials and agencies to stay on top of developments. Currently, there are no confirmed cases in Colorado.

Q: Spring Break is coming up. What advice do you have for those who may be traveling?
A:
Be aware of current travel advisories and take steps to minimize your risk of exposure (by washing hands regularly, etc.). The CDC website offers the latest updates on travel advisories and notices.

Q: If a community member has a question about COVID-19, what resources are available?
A:
CDPHE and CO Help have set up a toll-free hotline at 877-462-2911 to provide more information and answer questions. Regular updates from the CDC; CDPHE; and from Pitkin County Public Health can all be found on the Pitkin County Public Health website. Read Less
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