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Valley View sets its sights on 2002

Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs had a banner year in 2001 and looks for an even better one to come in 2002.

Chief executive officer Gary Brewer brought the members of the Valley View Hospital Association up to date at the association’s annual meeting Thursday.

Valley View is growing outward and from within. The hospital increased its medical staff by 16 percent last year, Brewer said, from 73 physicians in 2001 to 81 in 2002.



It also unveiled an ambitious plan for expanding the hospital campus that will add a host of new services and significantly increase the size of the hospital.

“The problem is we’re land-locked,” Brewer said.



The hospital hasn’t been able to find a suitable piece of property for its expansion, nor is it likely it could afford to buy property in the valley if it did find a suitable parcel, Brewer added.

“We need to make the area we’re in work,” he said. “We want to occupy this land for the next 25 to 30 years.”

Hospital expansion will take place in phases, Brewer said. The first phase, with a price tag of between $22 million and $25 million, is scheduled to begin this year. It includes a new emergency room, new radiology department and a new family birthplace. As part of this initial phase, 19th Street will be closed between Palmer and Blake streets, Brewer said.

“It will help us become more of a campus,” Brewer said of the street closure.

Construction is set to begin in late summer.

Valley View also bought five homes behind the hospital on Palmer. Those houses will be torn down and a parking lot will be built there.

A new 44,000-square-foot medical office building across 19th Street from the hospital was completed and opened in the fall of last year, Brewer said. The first floor is leased to Glenwood Medical Associates and the second to 14 physicians. The second floor also houses Valley View’s new cancer center.

Brewer said the hospital would like to convert the leased space to condominiums that would be purchased instead of leased. That revenue could be used to help pay for the hospital expansion, he said.

Some face-lifting in the hospital was begun in 2001. The present family birthing place was remodeled and refurnished, as was the cafeteria, Brewer said. The chapel was also refurnished.

Last year Valley View leased the old Glenwood Medical Associates building on Blake Avenue, in which it provides offices for the Mountain Family Health Center, a clinic for low-income patients, and for Pediatric Partners.

Valley View also hired the two doctors who staff the pediatric clinic, David and Ellen Brooks.

The hospital is extending its services to neighboring communities. The Silt Medical Center will open April 14 and the Eagle Clinic was expanded, Brewer said.

Last year, Valley View donated cash or in-kind services to a variety of local and regional organizations. It amounted to 8,000 hours of volunteer labor and $50,000 in cash donations, Brewer said.

The hospital also funds athletic trainers for all home games at the high schools in Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Carbondale, at a cost of $43,000 in 2001. The trainers help athletes stretch, give them strengthening exercises and take care of minor injuries.

In 1999, it opened an in-patient rehabilitation department with 10 beds.

“Before, people had to go to Grand Junction or Denver,” Brewer said.

It also purchased a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine for $1.5 million and a computerized axial tomography machine (CAT) for $800,000, Brewer said.

More important than what Brewer called the “bricks and mortar” of hospital expansion was joining the Planetree Network of hospitals, which uses a patient-centered approach to health care, he said.

“It’s not a management philosophy or a book or manual of policy,” he said. “It’s so very simple. From the health care perspective, you look at the world through the eyes of the patient.”

Patients and staff are invited to suggest ways to improve a patient’s experience at Valley View. The changes have included eliminating fluorescent lighting and the 2 a.m. wake-up for treatment.

Brewer also said the hospital remains one of the best employers in the valley, with average employee salaries running $47,000 a year.

Although turnover is high in the health care profession, Valley View has managed to retain most of its more than 500 employees. It had a relatively low turnover of 6 percent last year, he said.


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