For the fifth year in a row, Pitkin County has ranked second in the state for population health, just behind Douglas County, according to U.S. News and World Report’s latest “Healthiest Communities” release. Nationally, our county is ranked 30th. In the national rural-only rankings, Pitkin County ranked 5th out of the top 25 performers. According to the report, “The 2022 Healthiest Communities rankings were created with the assistance of the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems,” and they “identify the top 500 Healthiest Communities in America, ranging from No. 1 Los Alamos County, New Mexico, to No. 500 Madison County, Nebraska” across 10 categories that “drive community health.” You can read and explore the full article here.
This is good news for our community, as a point of pride, and a continued call-to-action for Aspen Valley Hospital as we pursue our Board’s vision of fostering our community as the healthiest in the nation. A deeper dive into the categories, and our scores (out of 100), yields some interesting, and yet not too surprising, results. For example, for overall population health, Pitkin County scored an impressive 90 points, while we scored a dismal 25 points specifically for housing. To us, this is an illuminating juxtaposition that we should be among the “healthiest” as a population in the state and country, and yet greatly hampered by the inability of many to afford reasonable housing. Again, this isn’t a surprise, but the data does quantify what, surely, we all know, and it punctuates our community’s needs and efforts to find housing solutions. To that end, it was encouraging to see community leaders, including Tom McCauley, our Chief Human Resources Officer, come together at the “Solving the Housing Crisis — A Regional Summit on Equitable Solutions” event last week to discuss collaborative ideas.
For our part, being able to attract and retain the best talent is also dependent upon our ability to provide affordable housing options. We currently have nearly 100 employed and contracted staff and physicians utilizing housing units that we own or lease, and our Board has established the goal of building and acquiring 200 more units over the next 10 years. This would house approximately half of our staff. We have two projects on the horizon, which would add 40-50 units, and our long-range planning will include the balance.
Back to our population’s health, where we are already ranked among the highest in the state. AVH will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of being the best. As your community hospital, we have become and are becoming much, much more than a hospital. Our Network of Care continues to grow and provide the services our community needs where they are needed, in Aspen and the midvalley. In this issue, you will learn about our newest physician addition to our Aspen Valley Primary Care practice, Dr. Chamberlin, and her past and present commitment to population health through her medical practice in Maine and soon in our community. We are excited to announce our June Health Fairs, offering affordable lab tests that are an important part of supporting good health. We also announce our New Graduate Nurse Residency Program, in cooperation with Colorado Mountain College, to keep our recent nursing graduates here in our valley and taking extraordinary care of our patients.
With our community’s continued support, Aspen Valley Hospital will continue to pursue our vision for our community to be the healthiest in the nation.