2020 Rescue Fund supports expanded COVID-19 testing at Aspen Valley Hospital with $470,000 grant
As communities across the country work to safely reopen their economies, one critical element of nearly every plan involves readily available testing for COVID-19. Pitkin County is no exception.
The 2020 Rescue Fund at the Aspen Community Foundation has committed $470,000 to support Pitkin County Public Health-directed testing that is not paid for by insurance carriers, and to help the community get back on its feet.
“We wanted to get involved with testing, which is an essential part of any recovery plan for the city, the valley and the country,” explains Bob Hurst, one of three Aspen philanthropists who created the 2020 Rescue Fund and have so far raised over $5 million to support organizations throughout the region that are playing a critical role in our COVID-19 response.
The Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation (AVHF) received the grant on behalf of AVH, and the hospital is working with Pitkin County Public Health to ensure testing is available through the end of the year. Specifically, the testing will support Public Health’s management of viral outbreaks, and will provide additional funding to support PCR testing needs that are identified by Public Health officials as necessary to protect vulnerable and at-risk populations. All testing will be conducted by AVH.
“Testing is absolutely vital for people to understand whether they are sick or not sick and to have the confidence they need to function,” Hurst says. “The same holds for businesses that need to know their employees are healthy and safe, and to help them interact safely with their customers.
The 2020 Rescue Fund was conceived by Hurst, Melony Lewis and Jerry Greenwald back in March, as communities around the world were shutting down their economies and directing people to stay home.
“We are thinking about how we can be of help to the community,” Hurst says. “In order to make this fund work, we needed to identify which organizations to support, how to do so efficiently and in a thoughtful way that directs funds where they are most needed.”
The 2020 Rescue Fund was established as a charitable fund at the Aspen Community Foundation and has so far distributed more than $2.4 million to 25 social service agencies that provide for health needs, food distribution, financial assistance, behavioral health, legal aid, and shelter and rent subsidies to individuals and families between Aspen and Parachute.
Through the grant to AVHF, the Fund expands its support network to help small businesses. “We wanted to get involved in testing, and we are looking at ways to provide meaningful support for small businesses as well,” Hurst says. “This is a good way to do both.”
Hurst credits the 106 donors who have so far given to the 2020 Rescue Fund for recognizing the need. “People have so much anxiety between the economic crisis, the health crisis, the social stresses that are occurring, so anything we can do to help relieve people’s anxiety is absolutely critical,” he said.