Election results for the next Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors will be decided one week from today. With seven people vying for two open seats, their campaign issues surrounding the publicly-funded facility are many.
A common theme among more than half of the seven candidates is a shared concern about a disconnect, whether that be between the administration and the staff or the board and the community.
Candidate Mike Lyons, who is a paramedic, firefighter, property manager and photographer in the Roaring Fork Valley, wants to re-establish trust between the administration and hospital staff.
“I want to restore AVH back to being the most trusted organization in this community because it needs to be,” he said. “There are some stories that are in the under belly of this community that are not good about AVH. I want to get to the bottom of that and I want to find out exactly what’s going on.”
He believes that this spring’s election could determine the direction the hospital goes in the next two decades and, if it’s not in a positive direction, taxpayers and patients could be negatively affected.
“If it’s going to treat the community poorly, there will be dire consequences for both the hospital and the community,” Lyons said.
Peter Hershberger, a nurse at Aspen Valley Hospital, thinks the board has a tendency to be divisive, as opposed to inclusive, when it comes to communication with community members.
“This board, I feel, is being too dark and I don’t feel like they reach out to the community enough,” he said.
If he is elected, Hershberger said he would handle things differently.
“I would be as open and cohesive as humanly possible, to a fault, if I were to be a board member,” Hershberger said. “I wouldn’t sleep well at night if I didn’t ask many people about the tough issues.”
Rudi E. Scheidt, Jr. says the most important way to mend this perceived disconnect is by finding the right leader, which is a responsibility shouldered by the board of directors.
“We are entrusted by the community to make sure we search nationwide for the best CEO,” Scheidt said. “We should find the best person to bridge the gap between this community, to help the morale of the hospital and to ensure a proper vision for the AVH for the future.”
The hospital has hired a search firm to find a new CEO after Dan Bonk resigned in January. Terry Collins, the chief financial officer, is serving as interim CEO.
Candidate Joseph Nedlin declined to be recorded for this story, describing questions posed by Aspen Public Radio as quote “nebulous”. He did, however, state his positions for our online questionnaire. He said hiring a CEO is the most important task in front of the board.
There is no timeline thus far for when a new CEO would be hired.
Election ballots must be returned to AVH's administration office by 7 p.m. on May 3. They can be mailed or dropped off in person.
For the full interview with each candidate, go to aspenpublicradio.org.