Since initiating community testing last Friday, April 24, Aspen Valley Hospital has had less than 30 patients referred to our Respiratory Evaluation Tent for a COVID test by their primary care physician. This is very good news, for all of us, that the number of people in the community with at least minor symptoms is quite small. This means that we have collectively succeeded in our efforts to suppress the spread of the virus in our community through dutiful compliance with social distancing. Our partners at Pitkin County Public Health are working hard to build the team necessary to contain the virus among those who do test positive by using a process called contact tracing. Testing and contact tracing are two important steps in the “Box It In” containment strategy we are now using to tamp down and manage the virus in our community.
AVH is playing an important role with the Box It In strategy, while the Public Health Department gradually and carefully lifts the restrictive public health orders over time. We were able to initiate broad testing, because:
- We carefully preserved our limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies.
- New testing capacity has been created by private and hospital laboratories.
- Our community suppressed the incidence of the virus to manageable levels.
- Our staff is back to near full strength as well, without the higher levels of illness of a few weeks ago.
- Containment at this phase continues to protect AVH from an overwhelming demand on our limited capacity as a small, community hospital.
Beginning today, May 1, AVH is pleased to gradually and responsibly resume some non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures, now that we can be assured of a safe environment for our patients and our staff. Our Primary Care and Orthopedic clinics will be able to start seeing more patients in-person, while our Otolaryngology/ENT and Ophthalmology clinics will require additional preparation to see patients, so their re-opening will happen later. At the same time, we still encourage and will provide telemedicine services that we have honed over the past weeks, along with other technological alternatives to in-person consultations.
We know that, while not urgent or emergent, many patients are in need of essential healthcare services, including in-person physician office visits, diagnostic services such as X-rays and laboratory studies, rehabilitative support, and surgical procedures. Our schedulers will be reaching out to patients on our waiting list, as we are able to accommodate their needs.
It will take time and continued patience for our community, and the nation, to find our way back to economic vitality and the lifestyles we so enjoyed before the virus. But we will get there, together. In the meantime, we are very thankful for the community’s overwhelming support of our frontline heroes at AVH, our community’s essential workers, our local families, and our businesses that are looking forward to brighter days.
We are proud to be your community hospital, and we are privileged to serve you in ways we never thought we would.