Dupper leaves mark on Valley View Hospital
Glenwood Springs’ loss will be a gain for Montrose, as longtime Valley View Hospital Chief Financial Officer Larry Dupper gets ready to depart for his new job as CFO for Montrose Memorial Hospital.
Dupper announced this fall that he would be resigning at the end of the year, after 18 years with VVH, to take the Montrose position.
He becomes the second Valley View executive this year to leave for Montrose, after Dr. Al Saliman, the chief medical officer, left in June to take the CMO position at Montrose Memorial.
“It’s a great hospital, and the community support has been incredible,” Dupper said of his time at Valley View and in Glenwood Springs. “I’m so pleased with the progress of the hospital foundation and our medical staff to be able to accomplish all that we have, and it’s been a delight being here.”
CEO Gary Brewer, who arrived at Valley View in 1997, hired Dupper the following year. Together, they have overseen the transformation of what was then still a small community hospital to the modern-state-of-the-art medical facility that it is today.
“When you look around at what we’ve done as an organization, Larry’s expertise, touch and vision is behind so much of it,” said Stacey Gavrell, chief community relations officer for the hospital.
A Colorado native, Dupper had been looking for a ticket back to his home state after spending the first part of his hospital administration career in the Midwest, including in St. Louis.
“My family grew up on the Front Range, and I wanted to get back to horseback riding and skiing,” he said.
Valley View at the time had a fairly modest 110,000-square-foot hospital building that was first built in 1955 and added onto in the 1980s and ’90s, plus a clinic in Eagle. After having served much larger hospitals, Dupper admits he was a little unsure about the move at first.
“I met a couple of the docs and got to know some of the people,” he said. “To have a good hospital, you need a good board and community support, and you need to have a good medical staff.”
Those initial meetings gave Dupper a comfort level that Glenwood Springs and Valley View had what it took.
Today, Valley View has 535,000 square feet of facilities, including family practice clinics in Eagle, Silt, Carbondale and at Willits in Basalt, along with what’s become a regional medical facility providing a variety of specialized care and that features the Calaway-Young Cancer Center.
The hospital’s net worth has grown from $26 million at the end of 1997 to a projected $265 million at the end of this year.
“Far more important than those dollars and numbers, though, is this is a better community to live in from a medical services standpoint than it was back in 1997,” Dupper said.
The early days of his tenure at Valley View were spent figuring out how to provide more space for physicians to be able to offer more services, and things just sort of happened naturally from there, he said.
“As we were able to add physicians, it just compounded what we were able to do,” Dupper said.
Along the way, two of the best things that happened were the formation of the Valley View Hospital Foundation, which helped build community support for what the hospital was trying to accomplish, along with Valley View’s affiliation with Planetree, a nonprofit organization that help medical providers become better focused on patient needs.
“When I got here, no one was really talking about the patient, and Planetree really changed the conversation,” Dupper said of the organization, which emphasizes the tenets of “personalizing, demystifying and humanizing” patient care.
It played heavily into the architecture of the new hospital building and cancer center, with its almost resort lodge-like feel and “homey, healing” environment, he said.
The Planetree approach also led to things like allowing flowers in the intensive care unit, doing away with strict visitation hours, and implementing programs like the valet parking service, pet therapy and music therapy.
“We want a hospital to be a healing, comfortable, humanized environment,” said Dupper, who dealt with the financial aspects of all that. “When you’re sick and scared, you want to be treated well.”
Valley View was one of the first hospitals in Colorado to join the Planetree network, which now includes 120 affiliated in the United States and 220 around the world.
During his time at Valley View, Dupper also involved himself in the broader health care community, serving as president of the Colorado Health Care Financial Management Association, and chairing the Western Colorado Health Care Alliance and the Colorado managed care network.
His move to Montrose with wife Pam was partly inspired by his love for horseback riding, and the ability to buy a 15-acre ranch there so he could have horses again.
“My granddaughter asked me this summer, ‘Grandpa, I need a horse,’” Dupper said.
He said the new spread will better accommodate visits from his son’s family from Texas, including grandkids Simon and Samira.
“It’s also got a shop so I can pursue my woodworking hobby,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to the new experience, and some new exploring.”
At the same time, “I’m in my 41st year in my hospital career, and this is the best board of trustees I’ve ever worked with,” he said of Valley View. “I’m really going to miss the people here.”
Dupper starts his new job on Jan. 9. Bonnie Wasli is serving as interim chief finance officer for Valley View in the meantime, until a permanent decision is made after the first of the year, Gavrell said.