Posts Tagged ‘poudre valley hospital’

Show your support for firefighters and first responders of the High Park Fire by signing one of our banners at Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies or the Harmony Campus in Fort Collins.

On flag day, we are especially grateful for our local and national first reponders joined in the High Park Fire effort. We’re asking the community to join us in a show support for those firefighters and first responders.

Please stop by the cafeterias at Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies or the Harmony Campus to write notes of thanks and encouragement to the men and women putting their lives and health on the line to fight the fire and protect others’ lives and homes. In some cases, the very firefighters battling the blaze have already lost their own homes.

Banners will be available to sign through 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 15. After that, we’ll deliver them to the responders’ respite stations for display.

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By Kevin Unger, George Hayes, Russ Branzell and Rulon Stacey

Dear colleagues and community,

We share your concern for the people and responders affected by the High Park Fire.

High Park fire responders, we honor and thank you.

Many members of University of Colorado Health are personally impacted by the fire. Some employees have been evacuated from their homes; others have escaped with fire bearing down on them.

Poudre Valley Hospital EMS continues to assist at the front lines, as well support day-to-day community needs.


Anyone looking for a personal way to support victims of the fire and the response effort should contact www.helpcoloradonow.org. Monetary donations are what agencies are most encouraging at this time. This site also has links for submitting products or services you may wish to offer. Offers of goods and services are being reviewed and selected by the responder teams and support agencies.


UC Health is actively helping the response effort. Thankfully, so far there have not been any large increases in medical needs at our hospitals related to the fire. We of course stand ready for any potential increase in need for medical care.

We are also honoring our responsibility to support our community, beyond providing world-class health care, in the following ways:

  • $25,000 donation to the Northern Colorado Chapter of the Red Cross to assist with High Park Fire response.
  • $5,000 donation to the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, which is wholly dependent on donations.
  • $5,000 donation to the Poudre Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, which is also dependent on donations.
  • Café 1024 at Poudre Valley Hospital and Café 2500 at Medical Center of the Rockies will provide meal vouchers for affected community members and responders. Those vouchers will be distributed by the Red Cross.
  • Assisting members of the Northern Colorado Public Communicators group to share and distribute fire response information.
  • PVHS.org and social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube): Web and video content on health-related questions about the fire. We will continue to create and provide content that will help the community understand health concerns during this time.
  • Offer, through the Red Cross, of 18,000 square feet of storage space in vacant UC Health space near The Ranch evacuation center. This space could help response agencies store food, water or other donated items.
  • Offer, through the Red Cross, of sunscreen, hand sanitizer, clothing.

This is a difficult situation for all of us and our community. Continue to support each other and let us know how we can support you during the challenges.

Kevin Unger is the president and CEO of Poudre Valley Hospital

George Hayes is the president and CEO of Medical Center of the Rockies

Russ Branzell is the president and CEO of Colorado Health Medical Group (formerly Poudre Valley Medical Group)

Rulon Stacey is the president of University of Colorado Health

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By Kevin Unger, president and CEO, Poudre Valley Hospital

Poudre Valley Hospital, Circa 1925

The original Poudre Valley Hospital opened in 1925 with majestic white pillars standing along the building’s front. The pillars were removed years later during an expansion of the structure.

During the next three years, community members in Fort Collins will see a lot of construction activity at Poudre Valley Hospital.

We’re in the initial stages of developing a plan to remove the oldest section of the building. The section is near the corner of Lemay Avenue and Doctors Lane.

The section will be replaced with a two-story, 113,000-square-foot building that will allow us to maintain our high level of services for the community and expand the capabilities of our:

This project—the new building—will greatly benefit patients as well as Fort Collins primary care doctors, Fort Collins pediatricians and other specialists, as well as Loveland doctors and Greeley doctors who have privileges to practice in the hospital.

This has been a long time in coming. The PVH 19-acre site is landlocked by neighborhoods and businesses. Because of this, we’ve always had to identify other ways to increase services rather than expanding on the hospital’s site.

Growth, aging building drive project

Poudre Valley Hospital "A" Building

By 2012, the original hospital had been absorbed by 17 major additions that resulted in the 700,000-square-foot Poudre Valley Hospital and the so-called “A” Building, above.

In the late 1990s, we built the Harmony Campus to accommodate outpatient services while inpatient care remained at PVHS. In 2007, the Medical Center of the Rockies opened to further expand services and add new ones.

However, we’ve reached the critical juncture where the issues of age and expansion needs have collided.

With northern Colorado’s rapid growth, we’ll be in a tight pinch if we sit back and do nothing at PVH. The new building will solve many space issues and expansion needs for years to come.

The oldest part of the existing building dates back to 1925 and includes the original hospital and other areas that are at least a half-century old. Since the original hospital opened, PVH has undergone 17 major additions, transforming the hospital into today’s 700,000-square foot megalith.

We’ve talked for more than 20 years about tearing down and replace the oldest section. This project has been an annual discussion—and over the years some long-time employees have jested that they wondered whether the old section would outlive them.

During the last three decades, the oldest section was fully occupied by non-clinical services. Then, many employees moved across Lemay into the new Westbridge Building that opened three years ago. Now, about 100 employees remain in the oldest section; they will be moved to elsewhere in PVH or off-site locations.

The oldest section is rapidly deteriorating. The foundation has settled and sags. Ancient clay pipes crack. The old walls creak and moan in the wind.

Some employees — this is one of my favorites — claim ghosts haunt the dismal basement, where the morgue was formerly located.

This oldest section demands $1 million a year in upkeep, far from a sound investment considering the building’s decrepit condition.

In April, our board of directors approved a master plan that calls for the demolition and replacement of the oldest section. The first phase will develop the plan for the demolition and relocation of employees currently housed in the section.

What’s next?

Demolition is expected to get underway 2013. The new building is targeted to be completed in 2015.

Tearing down the oldest section might sound easy: Bring in a tall crane with a huge wrecking ball, and, like magic, there sits a big pile of bricks, mortar and rubble ready to be carted away.

But there’s a tough issue: Asbestos was tucked behind the walls prior to 1989 when the EPA banned the use of the toxic substance. The asbestos is harmless as long as walls aren’t breached and asbestos disturbed. Removal will require workers garbed in special asbestos-proof clothing. Federal inspectors will monitor the removal and disposal.

PVH has come a long way since the original hospital was opened 87 years ago. Back then, the tiny hospital stood out by itself, surrounded by corn and beet fields. Cows wandered by. Patients closed windows to keep out the malodorous aroma.

Yes, times have changed, for the better, and, with this new endeavor, we’ll be able to maintain our high-level of services for the community.

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I have great news that I want to share with you.

The University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System announced Jan. 31 that we have completed the formal documents to create a new and unique health system in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West. We have worked diligently on creating this partnership since we announced our intentions in the summer.

Our goal is vigorous, ambitious and extremely important to the health care of patients in our community and throughout Colorado. We will fully integrate the University of Colorado Hospital, the best academic medical center in the nation, with PVHS, one of the best community health system in the United States.

Because of the exceptional talent assembled in the new system, we can collectively accomplish patient-care outcomes that may be unachievable if either of our organizations moved forward alone. Together, we will be the most dynamic, high quality provider of patient care in the Rocky Mountain West and we expect that our new system will become a leader in remaking America’s healthcare system.

The name of the new system will be University of Colorado Health. In selecting this name, we conducted extensive research that determined the name has the highest appeal to patients we serve. In addition, the name makes the most sense when we take into account the much broader patient base that the new health system will serve: all of Colorado and possibly adjacent states.

Our local hospitals—Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, and the University of Colorado Hospital—will retain their names and also be identified as part of University of Colorado Health.

I feel fortunate in being named as the chief executive officer of University of Colorado Health. I will be responsible for overall operation and strategic direction, and I will work closely with the new organization’s 11-member board and Bruce Schroffel, the University of Colorado Hospital president and CEO who has been named the president of the board of directors for University of Colorado Health.

Here’s what you can expect in the future:

The quality of local patient care in our community will be enhanced. Community members will still be treated locally. The new organization will be robust and we anticipate increasing local employment numbers for the healthcare professional and support industries. Our new organization will be far better for our local patients, physicians, staff members, and communities.

I would like to encourage you to learn more by attending one of the community town hall meetings that we will hold:

  • 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the Long’s Peak meeting room at the Medical Center of the Rockies, Loveland.
  • 5:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 8, in the Cafe F meeting room at Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins.
  • 5:30 p.m., Thur., Feb. 9, in MCR’s Long’s Peak meeting room.
  • 5:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 10, in PVH’s Cafe F meeting room.
  • 5:30 p.m., Mon., Feb. 13, at the Greeley Medical Clinic, 1900 16th Street, Greeley.

For more information on the Jan. 31 announcement, please read the press release and visit the new organization’s website. And please visit our fact sheet to learn more about the new organization and its board of directors.

The creation of the new organization required dedicated efforts by many individuals–employees of the two organizations, the boards for each organization, physicians, and community leaders. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them!


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In 1998, my life was forever changed when Matthew Shepard was transferred  to Poudre Valley Hospital from our good friends at  Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyoming.  Mathew was the victim of one of the most cruel and senseless beatings any of us will ever hear about.

During the time Matthew was in PVH, I had the good fortune to get to know Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard.  In the years since my wife, Linda, and I have become good friends with Dennis and Judy.  We have learned that they are two good and honorable people who have weathered an unimaginable tragedy in remarkable fashion.

A few days ago Dennis, Judy, Linda, and I had the opportunity to meet and discuss, for the first time in real detail, the events surrounding their stay at PVH and the correspondence that came during the few weeks after the tragedy.

Dennis and Judy Shepard with Linda and Rulon Stacey

After the events of October 1998, I received many letters from people around the world.  Most were touching and gracious.  Some were more hateful than I thought possible.  For all this time I have kept those letters in my office. Now, for the first time,  the four of us took some time to go through each of them.  It was a memorable experience.

The reason we went through this is because  Judy has arranged for the archives at The American Heritage Center at The University of Wyoming to keep all of the original documents surrounding Matthew’s death.  I have often thought that a box in my office was not the right place for this material, so I’m glad to have the opportunity to give this valuable information for permanent safe keeping.  Thank you, Dennis and Judy, for the opportunity.

During our meeting, I also found out information about upcoming events for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.  The big event is the 10th annual Bear To Make A Difference dinner and Auction on October 15 in Denver.  I hope you will check it out!

All in all, it was a great opportunity to catch up again with Dennis and Judy and to have an opportunity to permanently record this information.

Thanks for visiting, Dennis and Judy.

P.S.  One note on the picture above:  In the background you will see a University of Wyoming jersey.  During their stay at PVH, I found out that Dennis and Judy are avid University of Wyoming fans.  Of course, I am a true blue BYU guy…so we had lots to talk about.  In the end, they gave me that jersey that hangs on the wall in my office.  On a plaque on the bottom of the jersey there is an inscription thanking me for my effort in the days surrounding Matthew’s time at PVH.  Then, at the end, it says “We root for The University of Wyoming and anyone who plays BYU”  :)   OUCH!!! :)  :)

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In my last blog, I reported the great news that Medical Center of the Rockies and Poudre Valley Hospital have received national awards for patient satisfaction from Avatar International, the nation’s top private company for measuring what patients think about the hospital care they received.

Patient satisfaction is a topic very dear to us. We’ve used private companies to track satisfaction for at least the last two decades. A decade ago our patient satisfaction scores lingered around the 40th percentile, a very low score.

In comparison, our current goal is for all of our services to be in the 80th percentile or better for patient satisfaction. For our latest monthly scores, PVH was in the 80th percentile, while MCR was in the 83rd percentile. Our ultimate goal is to be in the 90th percentile or better for all services, and we’re steadily climbing up the percentile ladder.

We’ve been able to boost patient satisfaction scores by analyzing our work processes and focusing closely on what we’ve learned are our main customer requirements: prompt, friendly service and high quality service.

Each department—orthopedics, cardiac, pediatrics, to name just three of dozens of our services—develop action plans for enhancing what they do and the way they do it. Each month patient satisfaction scores are reviewed by employees of the departments and action plans are updated as needed.

Patient satisfaction surveys, by the way, aren’t limited to clinical areas; they also focus on such non-clinical areas as billing, parking and food service that closely touch the lives of patients.

Let me offer an example:

In the information about national awards that I wrote about in my last blog, the PVH Hospitality Services Department was the first and only hospital service anywhere in the nation to receive the new Blue Sky Award for innovative programs that helped increase patient satisfaction scores.

Several years ago the department, which provides room service and in-room meals for inpatients, experienced low patient satisfaction scores. An analysis was made to determine how to improve service.

The resulting effort included purchasing new equipment, specializing and updating food selections and menus, providing better instructions to help patients choose and order food, allowing patients to call at any time to set a meal time, ensuring that meals were delivered within 10 minutes of preparation so the food is still hot, and, among other improvements, implementing new services such as a Baby Bistro where a gourmet meal is delivered to new parents.

Most other hospitals offer room service for inpatients—you’ve probably heard the jokes about bad-tasting and cold food served by hospitals and other institutions—but the improvements undertaken in PVH’s Hospitality Services have resulted in some of the nation’s best service and best food.  Patients and their family members frequently offer praise.

For our Hospitality Services Department, patient satisfaction scores have soared from an average in the area 60th percentile into the 90th to 93rd percentile, a tremendous accomplishment!

Why do we place so much emphasis on patient satisfaction?

Because that’s what health care is all about. At PVHS, we decided years ago that if we focus on quality, we’ll be successful. This important strategy has paid off, as seen by the many national honors and recognition that PVHS has received for high quality service and patient satisfaction.

Much more importantly, it has paid off for our patients. They are more pleased with the service they receive. Their satisfaction helps them heal more quickly and feel better.


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I feel like last week’s announcement about our letter of intent to create a partnership between Poudre Valley Health System and the University of Colorado Hospital partnership went extremely well.

The announcement was covered by the national and local media (Health Leaders Media, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Denver Post, among many others).

We informally monitored the reactions of staff members, physicians and volunteers through internal town hall meetings and questions they submitted through our intranet.

We also gathered feedback as members of our senior management group and marketing staff chatted with employees, volunteers and physicians to gain their thoughts.

All in all, I was impressed by the positive reactions. In their true spirit of professionalism, most employees chiefly wondered about the impact on our patients.

Here are answers to some of the patient-related questions:

Question: Will our patients have to drive to Denver for care?

Answer: PVHS patients would remain in northern Colorado, unless, of course, there are treatments at UCH or healthcare facilities elsewhere that would better benefit a patient. This is also how patient care matters are currently handled.

Question: How would this new arrangement impact health insurance for our patients?

Answer: The level and extent of a patient’s healthcare coverage will continue to be determined between the patient and his or her health insurance company.

Question: What will happen to PVHS projects that are now underway?

Answer: Projects now underway will continue. This includes renovation on the third floor of Poudre Valley Hospital. Projects proposed for the future will be analyzed for their need and availability of funding–the same process that we always go through with any proposed project.

Question: Will the research and clinical trials conducted at PVHS continue?

Answer: Yes, and these efforts would likely be expanded. In collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, a plan would be established to conduct more research programs and clinical trials at PVHS.

Question: Will this new arrangement drive up the cost of health care?

Answer: No. Please remember that the expense of health care is typically driven by equipment costs and other factors that often are out of the control of a healthcare organization.

Our next step is to meet with the public in three community meetings that begin June 28. I encourage you to attend a meeting. Here’s the schedule:

Community meeting times and locations

June 28: 6-7 p.m. Medical Center of the Rockies Longs Peak Room, 2500 Rocky Mountain Ave., Loveland map

June 29: 6-7 p.m. Poudre Valley Hospital Cafe F, 1024 S. Lemay Ave., Fort Collins map

June 30: 6-7 p.m. Greeley Medical Clinic Lower Level Conference Room, 1900 16th St., Greeley map


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We had a large amount of rain in northern Colorado this last week, and a forecast for occasional wet weather continues into the weekend.

When we get a lot of rain like this, it’s easy to think back to 1997 when one of the worst floods in the recorded history of Fort Collins was caused by a mega-rainstorm. During one long, dangerous night, a business area near Colorado State University was wiped out. Homes were flooded. Lives were lost.

What paramedics, emergency medical technicians and other emergency responders did that night was extremely brave.

The storm became a triple threat: flood, train derailment and fire.

Seven crews of paramedics, EMTs and EMT reserves from Poudre Valley Hopsital’s ambulance services responded to the disaster along with firefighters and police.

Some members of our emergency response crews risked their lives by wading into deep flooding waters to retrieve victims. Nearby there were partly flooded buildings on fire. Phone and electrical lines were falling and sparking in the dark of night.  Natural gas bubbled up through the flood waters from broken pipelines.

One of our paramedics, Greg Rhoads, now a shift supervisor for our ambulance service, summed it up at the time by saying: “It was chaos.”

Many of our employees were suddenly homeless as the waters destroyed their dwellings, vehicles, clothing, all that they owned. The same was true for many city residents.

PVHS employees responded with donations of money, clothing, taking in families of dislocated employees and other city residents. Other community members responded in the same fashion. In all of this tragedy, our community came together with compassion and enthusiasm for helping others.

National Emergency Medical Response Week goes through May 21. If you see a paramedic or EMT—or a firefighter or police officer—I ask that you take a moment and extend your thanks. They’re out there—sometimes risking their lives—for the rest of us.


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It is hard to believe that it has been four years since we opened Medical Center of the Rockies. Happy birthday to all of the employees, volunteers, physicians, community members and others who worked so hard to make this happen.

About seven years ago, when we were just in the planning stages of MCR, it seemed like it would never happen. During that time I happened to be driving with Chad McWhinney, CEO of McWhinney Enterprises, and we were talking about how difficult it was to make things like this happen. We agreed during that car ride that when MCR opened he and I would stand at the top of MCR and toast the event with a glass of sparkling cider (he was so kind to indulge the fact that I don’t drink :)  So, several years later, at the grand opening of MCR, we were fortunate enough to keep our pledge to each other.

Chad McWhinney and Rulon Stacey at MCR Grand Opening

During the four years of operation of MCR the team at MCR and the rest of PVHS has been successful in meeting every clinical and financial expectation. Let me summarize just a few:

Clinical: Just a few months ago MCR received Magnet designation from the American Nurse Credentialing Center. In receiving that designation they joined Poudre Valley Hospital (which is one of just a handful of hospitals in the United States to receive Magnet designation three separate times), the intermountain West’s first Magnet designated hospital. To their credit, MCR applied for Magnet designation the moment they were eligible, which makes MCR, as far as I know, the first hospital ever to receive this designation as soon as they were eligible.

Clinical 2: And…it gets even better!  Just a few weeks ago the ANCC announced that MCR and PVH were two of only five hospitals in the country to receive the NDNQI award for outstanding nursing quality. Again…remember that MCR has only been in existence FOUR years!  What an amazing accomplishment!  (see my blog post from a few weeks ago outlining this outstanding accomplishment)

Financial:  In the early days of MCR I was amused by the number of people who were trying to find ways to discredit the amazing accomplishments of the people involved there.  My favorite was “a million dollars a month.”  Several in the area were suggesting that MCR was losing “a million dollars a month” and that it would not be in business long, or that in order to stay in business we would have to compromise our mission by contracting with Kaiser, etc.  This, of course, after they said we would never get financing to build the hospital in the first place.  So….four years later, the facts are that MCR is well ahead of every projection we put in place, and both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s have given PVHS bond rating upgrades in each of the last several years.  Doesn’t hardly seem likely that bond rating agencies would be so positive in light of “a million dollars a month!” :)

So…congratulations to the entire MCR staff for Four great years!  You have distinguished yourself like no other new hospital I have ever worked with!


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“We work here, we give here.”

PVHS staff and volunteers are certainly proving this statement these days. The latest example is the Save Change to Create Change Project.

This project is a call out to our employees, volunteers and community to help the PVHS Foundation raise $1 million in spare change by the end of July.

The project kicked off with our own amazing employee champion, Alene Nitzky, running an ultramarathon race over the New Year. She ran 153 miles for the Poudre Valley Cancer Center project. Her next race is in February.

Alene, along with the foundation, is asking all of us to save our change, while also making healthy, lifestyle changes in our own lives. If she can do it, we all can do it. Together, we can make a difference in our community!

Here are a couple of stories that I have heard about the impressive involvement of our employees:

An MCR Environmental Services worker made a donation of 40 hours of PTO to the Cancer Center Project after seeing the save change cans while cleaning an office.

Departments like occupational health and patient business services are holding their own challenges and having a lot of fun in the process.

An employee in patient business services even got her son involved. He and his Junior Colorado Eagles teammates are raising change for their team community service project. They raised over $500 in change by standing in front of King Soopers!

All information is on ENGAGEinlife.org and you can read stories on generosityheals.org.

Thank you to everyone who is saving change to create change. Your dedication and passion for Poudre Valley Health System and our community is awesome!


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