Valley View opens valves, provides more procedural practices for Western Slope patients |

Valley View opens valves, provides more procedural practices for Western Slope patients

Headshot of Dr. Stephen Jones, a new addition to Valley View Hospital's Heart & Vascular Center.

Larry Sweeney was at a standard dentist check-up when they found his blood pressure levels and heart rate to be extremely high. Sweeney didn’t know it then, but he was about to be one of Dr. Stephen Jones’ first patients for a procedure that had never before been done on the Western Slope of Colorado.

“After about 15 minutes … I felt like, well I’ve known this guy forever. Just started feeling very comfortable with it. … Eventually he told me we’re going to do a triple bypass, you’ve got a 90% blockage,” Sweeney said.

Jones moved to Glenwood Springs and took on a role at Valley View Hospital in January, after leaving a hospital in Boise, Idaho, where he worked as the chief of cardiothoracic surgery for 10 years.

“The team of people taking care of these patients is very experienced. Both individually and as a team together. We did a case yesterday with two techs, a perfusionist and a nurse in the operating room, and I had worked with all of these guys before,” Jones said.

The Heart & Vascular Center at Valley View can offer care to patients other area hospitals don’t have the capacity for. Jones described heart surgery as a team effort and said the addition of this center to Valley View will make it easier for patients who need to access this kind of care.

“It’s certainly more convenient for elderly patients and their family members. The older people get, the less they like to drive in big traffic,” Jones said. “If your husband, wife or significant other is having heart surgery in Denver, and you can’t get over there to see them, or if you have to go you know you’re stuck over there … it’s not convenient.”

Sweeney is retired and lives with his wife up in the hills between Harvey Gap and Rifle Gap. He is a cancer survivor and an Air Force veteran, and prior to his experience in February had never experienced heart issues before.

“We finally got a date, Feb. 23. Feb. 23 made me very comfortable, because it was the same date 15 years earlier that all my cancer was gone, and I had my cancer surgery. I thought, ‘Well, that’s good, we’ll fix two problems, and I’ll only have to remember one day,” Sweeney said.

After Sweeney’s procedure, he said he had almost no pain and was up and walking under supervision of a nurse the very next day. Jones said he and his team are very experienced despite being a new addition to Valley View, and offer care that their local competitors do not.

“His professionalism, personality and confidence … we were talking about releasing me in six days but I think we ended up at eight. … It’s just tremendous care,” Sweeney said.

Jones also mentioned how he and Dr. Frank Laws have an approach to atrial fibrillation surgery that individuals aren’t as likely to encounter in other health care settings.

“We treat AFib in a combined or hybrid approach that offers people a longstanding, chronicative solution that they have not been able to get elsewhere,” Jones said.

The new services being offered in the Heart & Vascular Center at Valley View do not require referrals, and the team is available to provide emergency care to patients on a 24/7 basis. To learn more or book an appointment, call 970-384-7290 or visit

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or

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