Wednesday letters: Valley Health Alliance, Child Abuse Prevention Month, and hugs

Health Alliance clarification

The Valley Health Alliance appreciates the attention that Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky is putting toward lowering health care costs. This is an important issue for everyone living in Garfield, Pitkin and western Eagle counties. 

We would like to correct one misconception in his recent column and explain the work of the Valley Health Alliance in a bit more detail.

Commissioner Jankovsky incorrectly portrays the Valley Health Alliance (VHA) as an “upvalley nonprofit.” This simply isn’t true for two reasons. First, many of the people who work for the self-insured organizations that are members of the VHA live in Garfield County. The VHA member organizations provide health insurance to 10,000 people living between Aspen and Parachute, and between 6,500-7000 of those people live in Garfield County. 

And, second, the Valley Health Alliance board of directors includes representatives from business, government and health care organizations from Parachute to Aspen. They include Grand River Health Centers, Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Mountain Family Health Centers, Valley View Hospital, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, Basalt Chamber of Commerce, Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Valley Hospital, Aspen Chamber Resort Association, the city of Aspen and Pitkin County. 

The Valley Health Alliance is a local nonprofit organization that brings local businesses and health care providers in three counties together to lower health care costs and improve the overall health of the people who live here. We are working to preserve access to the type and level of care our communities deserve.

The VHA helped pave the way for the decision by Rocky Mountain Health Plans and United Healthcare to offer coverage in the individual and small group health insurance markets. This is a big change from recent years when the only choice was Anthem. Competition between insurers is already resulting in lower prices, and we expect them to come down more in coming years. Another example of the VHA’s work is the Primary Care Network that includes practices from Parachute to Aspen. We provide support to primary care providers so they can thrive and better serve their patients.

Chris McDowell

executive director, Valley Health Alliance

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Did you know that one in three girls and one in five boys will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18 years old? These statistics are true across racial and socioeconomic lines. On average, more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect. 

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this month, it is important to honor children who are victims and survivors, as well as promote awareness and the prevention of child abuse. 

We have a child advocacy center right here in Glenwood Springs that serves the 9th Judicial District as well as Eagle County. River Bridge Regional Center is a child-focused facility where law enforcement and child protective services collaborate to investigate allegations. 

River Bridge helps victims and families heal. River Bridge saw 240 children last year, a 36% increase over the last six years, a 5% increase over our average in the past five years. The effects of the pandemic have had grim effects on children. We are seeing an increase in the frequency and severity of child abuse. 

We anticipate numbers of victims to increase as our country begins to open, and children are back in schools and day cares and being seen by those who can report abuse again. Crimes against children are on the rise and becoming more complex with online exploitation and trafficking. It is imperative that we remain vigilant in our fight against child abuse. Call 844-CO-4-KIDS if you suspect child abuse or neglect. 

Children are amazingly resilient, and even those who experience child abuse or neglect can overcome and reach their full potential with help from a supportive community. 

We all have a duty and responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens; if you see something say something. We can also look out for and care for each other; check on your neighbors, family or friends who may be struggling and need extra encouragement. Families are less likely to struggle with child abuse or neglect when they have the resources and support they need. 

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, look for blue pinwheels around town. Take a moment to acknowledge that it represents a child who was victimized. The pinwheels exemplify what childhood should and can be, nurturing and whimsical with a bright future where children grow and succeed. When we know more, we are empowered to do more. If you would like more information about Child Abuse Awareness month, please visit, and

Lindsay Gould


Let people hug for real

Today I read the article about a hug tent being a step in the right direction (Monday, March 29, issue). 

It was what I expected: no genuine touch, no truly personal contact. What’s missing here is letting families and their loved ones make a choice — hug each other with a sheet of plastic between them or a hug, an embrace in the arms with no plastic. Skin touching skin.

Did I lose a loved one to the COVID-19 virus? No, I did not. Did I lose a loved one due to the isolation placed upon those living in a facility? Yes, I did. Isolation is a wicked beast. It devours sanity, well-being and, simply put, the need for touch. Not through a sheet of plastic or rubber gloves. Just simply being held, a hug, holding hands, an embrace. Let’s not blow this virus out of proportion. Let’s give families a choice.

Lynne Snowden

New Castle

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