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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 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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