One of my favorite authors is Dr. Atul Gawande, a respected general surgeon and prolific author and commentator on improving U.S. healthcare. Dr. Gawande has inspired doctors, administrators, politicians and his readers to rethink what really matters and how we look at life and death. In his book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, he takes a sobering look at how we manage the ends of our lives, and provides sage and uplifting counsel for how we think about the deeply and uniquely human process few of us will avoid (if not for sudden and unexpected death). In brief, Dr. Gawande posits that “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.” I recommend his book to further illuminate his case, but I take his point to heart – that we need to live our lives to their fullest, for as long as we can, and live the end of our lives with the same spirit.
This past week, I had an inspiring visit with a patient who passed away the next day, surrounded by his grieving family. A couple days later, I visited with a young and joyful couple who had just delivered the newest member of their family at Aspen Valley Hospital. I am fortunate and honored to be in a profession that shares and is a witness to these poignant beginning and end-of-life experiences, and everything in between. As I reflect on the nature of our work, as a community hospital, we are privileged to have the opportunity to add quality to all of our patients’ stages of life. And we lend our own unique style of personalized care and attention throughout our Network of Care.
In this enewsletter, we provide just a few examples of how AVH is working hard to make a difference in the lives of those living in and visiting our community. I hope you find our considerations for students helpful as they have returned to school, offered by Dr. Rahul Shah, the newest member of our Aspen Valley Primary Care practice and a board-certified pediatrician. We also share the exciting news that our AVH Health Fair is back on the schedule, with lab draws available by appointment only during two different sessions in October, in Aspen and Basalt. We were taken aback by the overwhelming response we received and the apparent pent-up demand for these essential tests that serve as key indicators of our health. We are also pleased and proud to share more about our Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living residence with you, where we provide supportive care to our more senior residents and help them to maintain enjoyable lives in our beautiful community with all of its natural and cultural amenities.
Finally, we provide a peek into a topic that we explore in greater detail in the summer/fall edition of Health Matters magazine – our work to enable all of our community members to have access to affordable healthcare. This is a challenge that our Board and our organization is pursuing, much in the same vein as Dr. Gawande advocates – by being good stewards of our healthcare dollars, and delivering value through lower costs and higher quality. What exactly does this mean, and how do we accomplish it? We hope you will find out by reading the article in this enewsletter and then explore the topic further in Health Matters. We are excited to be a part of a transformation that is occurring across the country, in like-minded communities such as ours and our neighbors’, and that will take time and commitment to achieve.
To your good health,