Blog

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

April 30, 2020

Dear Community,

Since initiating community testing last Friday, April 24, Aspen Valley Hospital has had less than 30 patients referred to our Respiratory Evaluation Tent for a COVID test by their primary care physician. This is very good news, for all of us, that the number of people in the community with at least minor symptoms is quite small. This means that we have collectively succeeded in our efforts to suppress the spread of the virus in our community through dutiful compliance with social distancing. Our partners at Pitkin County Public Health are working hard to build the team necessary to contain the virus among those who do test positive by using Quick read more or view full article a process called contact tracing. Testing and contact tracing are two important steps in the “Box It In” containment strategy we are now using to tamp down and manage the virus in our community.

AVH is playing an important role with the Box It In strategy, while the Public Health Department gradually and carefully lifts the restrictive public health orders over time. We were able to initiate broad testing, because:
  • We carefully preserved our limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies.
  • New testing capacity has been created by private and hospital laboratories.
  • Our community suppressed the incidence of the virus to manageable levels.
  • Our staff is back to near full strength as well, without the higher levels of illness of a few weeks ago.
Containment at this phase continues to protect AVH from an overwhelming demand on our limited capacity as a small, community hospital.

Beginning today, May 1, AVH is pleased to gradually and responsibly resume some non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures, now that we can be assured of a safe environment for our patients and our staff. Our Primary Care and Orthopedic clinics will be able to start seeing more patients in-person, while our Otolaryngology/ENT and Ophthalmology clinics will require additional preparation to see patients, so their re-opening will happen later. At the same time, we still encourage and will provide telemedicine services that we have honed over the past weeks, along with other technological alternatives to in-person consultations.

We know that, while not urgent or emergent, many patients are in need of essential healthcare services, including in-person physician office visits, diagnostic services such as X-rays and laboratory studies, rehabilitative support, and surgical procedures. Our schedulers will be reaching out to patients on our waiting list, as we are able to accommodate their needs.

It will take time and continued patience for our community, and the nation, to find our way back to economic vitality and the lifestyles we so enjoyed before the virus. But we will get there, together. In the meantime, we are very thankful for the community’s overwhelming support of our frontline heroes at AVH, our community’s essential workers, our local families, and our businesses that are looking forward to brighter days.

We are proud to be your community hospital, and we are privileged to serve you in ways we never thought we would.
 
Sincerely,
Dave Ressler

  Read Less
No Comments   |   Add a Comment >>

Spotlight: Virtual Visits at After-Hours Medical Care in Basalt

April 30, 2020
The advent of COVID-19 has resulted in a decline in visits to the After-Hours Medical Care clinic as well as Aspen Valley Hospital’s Emergency Department, and that worries Dr. Joshua Seymour, Medical Director at After-Hours Medical Care.
 
“I want people to know that we are open and here to treat community members for all their injuries and ailments,” Dr. Seymour said. “We have a strong core group of doctors and nurses on duty, and we’ve taken every precaution to ensure our patients’ safety.”
 
After-Hours Medical Care in Basalt is the only after hours care clinic between Aspen and Rifle, so it serves an important role for area residents. The clinic is open Quick read more or view full article from 3 – 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekends.
 
One of the newest systems the clinic has incorporated to enhance safety is telemedicine, which connects doctors and patients via their phones or computers for an online—or virtual—face-to-face visit. Telemedicine supplements other systems and protocols that have been in effect at the clinic since February to protect both patients and providers from exposure to COVID-19.
 
“With our telemedicine practice up and running, we are able to serve some of our patients’ primary care needs and safely talk with people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms,” Dr. Seymour explained.
 
The addition of telemedicine is one of several changes at the clinic designed to keep patients and staff safe. When a patient drives up, they will find a sign on the door asking them to call the front desk where a staff member will ask them a few questions to help determine their needs and whether they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Patients are encouraged to call 970-544-1250 before driving to the clinic.
 
Most people are admitted after answering the questions and satisfying the staff that they are not likely to have been exposed to COVID-19. They are treated by doctors and nurses wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE) that the state of Colorado and Aspen Valley Hospital require. Surfaces are disinfected after each visit as well.
 
For patients who are afraid to visit a medical facility, or those who are beginning to experience COVID-19 symptoms, a telemedicine visit allows them to safely talk with a doctor to help decide what’s right for their care.
 
“It starts with a phone call so we can talk to the patient and figure out what’s best for them,” Dr. Seymour said. “That could be a visit to the clinic so we can examine you in person, a telemedicine visit or referral to higher level of care.”
 
The After-Hours Medical Care clinic provides a full range of medical care. It provides access to primary care services and specialists when needed. If a patient comes in with an injury or ailment that requires a specialist, the clinic can reach the on-call doctor from the various clinics, including OrthoAspen, Cardiology, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) and Women’s Health.

It can also be used to help patients with more serious COVID-19 symptoms arrange an examination in the Respiratory Evaluation Tent at Aspen Valley Hospital.
 
The important thing is for people to know that After-Hours Medical Care is there to meet all their needs, from sprains and cuts to more serious needs. The staff has taken every precaution to ensure everyone’s safety.
 
“We are open daily to help people for their injuries and ailments, and telemedicine gives us another tool to do that.” Dr. Seymour said. “We don’t want people to be home sick and too worried to talk with a doctor.”

  Read Less
No Comments   |   Add a Comment >>

Q&A with AVH's First Telemedicine Patient

April 29, 2020
For Lucinda Westerlind, Aspen Valley Primary Care’s new telemedicine option worked out to be just what she needed. She and her family live on five acres in Rifle, while her primary care physician, Dr. Karen Locke, has her office in Basalt.
 
Lucinda is one of Aspen Valley Hospital’s first patients to utilize telemedicine services that recently came online at the five Center for Medical Care clinics, part of Aspen Valley Hospital’s network of care.
 
The five clinics — Aspen Valley Primary Care, OrthoAspen, Cardiology, Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) — were planning to launch telemedicine services later this year, but as the COVID-19 crisis grew that timeline accelerated. Working with AVH’s IT department and Chief Transformation Officer Elaine Gerson, they were able Quick read more or view full article to implement more than three months ahead of schedule.
 
Lucinda Westerlind has graciously agreed to publicly share her experience with the new system, which is proving to be a vital tool in the effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
 
Aspen Valley Hospital: How long has Dr. Locke been your doctor?
 
Lucinda Westerlind: I’ve been a patient with Dr. Locke ever since she and her husband came to town, so I was in their first batch. I used to live in Carbondale and work in Basalt, and now I live in Rifle, which works well for our family. But I like the care I receive from the Lockes (Karen and Kelly), so I’ve kept seeing them.
 
AVH: Why did you end up utilizing the new telemedicine option?
 
LW: I had heard that it would be something my doctors would be offering, so I asked for a televisit. I probably wouldn’t have sought it out if it weren’t for COVID-19.  If I can see the doctor and don’t have to risk being exposed, that’s a win-win.
 
AVH: Why did you need to see a doctor?
 
LW: I woke up last week I had a rash under my arm. It was bright red, and I thought it might shingles. I knew if I got an antiviral treatment quickly it would help reduce the symptoms, so I called the office and asked for a virtual visit. 
 
AVH: Our telemedicine option requires that you be enrolled in using the Aspen Valley Hospital’s Patient Portal, which is part of our electronic health record platform, and have the Healow app on your smart phone or computer. Did you have any trouble getting that set up?
 
LW: No, it wasn’t any trouble at all. The office had me fill out a short form so I could access the Patient Portal. I had not downloaded Healow yet, so they sent me very clear instructions and a link to the app.
 
AVH: Did you use your smart phone or home computer for the visit?
 
LW: I used my phone. We did just like it was a Zoom call, where you see the other person in real time.
 
AVH: How did it go?
 
LW: It went great. Dr. Locke gave me instructions about how to move the phone and point the camera so she could see what the rash looked like, which helped her identify what it was. It was much better than just talking on the phone.
 
AVH:  Was it shingles, as you suspected?
 
LW: Thankfully, no. Dr. Locke gave me clear parameters about how I should care for it and what changes to look for that would require me to call her back.
 
AVH: Would you consider using the telemedicine option again?
 
LW: Yes, I feel like I received good care. I felt secure in terms of privacy and medical recommendations. It was so ideal, because I didn’t have to leave the home and the doctor was able to prescribe care. I have even recommended it to my friends. If you need medical attention, it’s a great alternative to going into the doctor’s office.
  Read Less
No Comments   |   Add a Comment >>

COVID-19 Community Update: From Our Board of Directors

April 20, 2020
Dear Community Members,
 
On Monday evening, the Aspen Valley Hospital Board of Directors reviewed in public session the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 crisis through direct reports presented by the hospital’s Incident Command Team.
 
Importantly, Monday night’s meeting afforded us an opportunity to share with you, our community members, the specifics of how we have transformed the hospital in order to meet the urgent needs of patients with COVID-19 symptoms, while continuing to handle all other urgent and emergent needs of our non-COVID patients.
 
First and foremost, we can affirm and assure our community that patient care is being provided 24-7 in a safe environment where patients, physicians and staff are protected against the danger of the virus reaching into our facility. Quick read more or view full article We discussed on Monday the Respiratory Evaluation Tent which serves as a freestanding and safe patient assessment site exclusively for COVID-19 symptomatic patients who have been referred by their primary care physician. Thanks in large part to this innovation, our Emergency Department remains available and accessible to anyone needing immediate care.
 
We reviewed in detail many of the specific facets of our planning process which was formulated with a view toward managing a potential surge, or multiple surges, should they occur at our hospital. Relatedly, we described the ways we have collaborated with other regional hospitals for the greatest collective effect. We also discussed the hospital’s recent expansion of our COVID testing to augment our physicians’ diagnostic capabilities for symptomatic and high-risk patients in the hospital, the Emergency Department, and in the Respiratory Evaluation Tent.
 
Perhaps most importantly, Monday’s meeting afforded us yet another opportunity to express appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of our physicians, nurses and staff who show up every day, putting themselves (and their families) at risk during this difficult time. Our sentiments echo those of the community who have demonstrated their deep appreciation through donations of food, PPE, money, and countless other ways — including, for example, the heartwarming signs that were anonymously placed at the parking entrance thanking our staff and encouraging them to stay the course, and the heartwarming gesture of noise-making by our immediate neighbors every evening. These gestures of support have meant a great deal to our dedicated caregivers and to all of us who support them.
 
Finally, we expressed on Monday, and do so again here, our appreciation to all of you for standing up to the virus and helping stem the spread of its deadly effects through adherence to stringent stay at home orders, social distancing strictures, and other personal measures. It is vitally important, a matter of life or death, that we all continue to do our part. Please don’t let up.
 
Our community has shown remarkable unity and resilience. Our board is proud to be a part of the efforts of the hospital and our remarkable community as we look forward to a healthy future that lies ahead.
 
Sincerely,
 
The Board of Directors of Aspen Valley Hospital

COVID RESOURCES

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS 
  • If you have symptoms including cough, fever and shortness of breath, and are able to manage your symptoms on your own, please stay home.
  • If you are over 60 and have underlying conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, contact your doctor to discuss your risk.
  • If you need help managing your symptoms, but are not in need of emergency care, please call your doctor. In order to prevent the spread of illness, it is important to call ahead before going to see a doctor.
  • If you do not have a primary care physician, call Aspen Valley Primary Care at 970-279-4111.
  • Your physician can refer you to Aspen Valley Hospital's respiratory evaluation tent for an in-person visit and further evaluation.
  • If you experience severe respiratory distress and/or need immediate attention, present to AVH's emergency department or call 9-1-1 and let them know you are concerned you may have COVID-19.
 
LOCAL INFORMATION
  • For operational and access updates from Aspen Valley Hospital, including ways to help during this crisis, visit our website.
  • To answer COVID-19-related questions and concerns, please call the Aspen to Parachute Coronavirus Hotline at 970.429.6186 (staffed daily from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm).
  • Sign up for Pitkin Alerts: Text “CVIRUS” to 888-777.
  • Visit the Pitkin County Public Health website.
  • Visit the Pitkin County Public Health Facebook page.
Read Less
No Comments   |   Add a Comment >>