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Greg Balko

Apr 25, 2016

Profession: Emergency Medicine Physician

Age: 47

Where do you live? Snowmass Village

How long have you lived in the valley? 17 years

In what capacity have you used AVH? How would you rate your experience and why? I have been a practicing physician at AVH for the last 17 years.  I have even been a patient in the emergency department a few times. It is interesting how being on the other side of the curtain brings insight to how the hospital can improve care. I must say, it has been a wonderful experience and privilege to work with such incredible people at the hospital.

To read the full list of questions and answers, and hear the audio portion, click here.

What compelled you to run for a board seat? This will be my second time to run for the board. I was encouraged, coaxed and cajoled into running again. Honestly, I believe in community service and found my first term very rewarding. Changes in the hospital leadership, uncertainty with reimbursements, increasing government regulations and completing the single largest building and modernization project in the organization’s history are all reasons why we need knowledgeable and experienced leaders. I previously served on the board from 2004-2008. I was part of the team to bring AVH back from financial uncertainty to stability.  As you may know, our board is comprised of five members; three members of the community who are not running in this election and two healthcare professionals. It is my opinion that this has been a good ratio of representation at the board level. It has been a successful mix that the community has supported for the last 12 years.  

Have you ever attended a board meeting? If so, for what reason? If no, why not? I was a member of the board from 2004 to 2008. Since that time I have occasionally attended board meetings. I visit so I can stay up-to-date with the issues affecting the hospital, verify progress with key strategic plans and keep current on the financial stability of the hospital.

What makes you qualified to serve? This is an important issue that the electorate should look at when choosing a director for the hospital board. Ever since I joined the medical staff 17 years ago, I have been actively involved in hospital, medical staff, and board committees. I served on the Hospital Quality Committee, Medical Staff Development Committee and chaired the hospital Peer Review Committee. I am currently serving on the Trauma, Emergency, ICU and Medical Executive Committees. This gives me the opportunity to have my finger on the pulse of the hospital. Of all my prior experiences, the most notable is that I served on the hospital board in 2004-2008.  

What is the most important issue facing AVH? Healthcare in general? How will you address it?  There are numerous issues facing AVH at this time. Finding the right person to fill the CEO vacancy is at the top of that list. Since recruiting a CEO is addressed in another question, I will take the opportunity to mention the need for AVH to expand its medical staff and services provided. We have seen a decline in the size of our medical staff and services. The hospital has recently recruited a new ENT and ophthalmologist and is working with the University of Colorado to bring subspecialists to our valley. Initially, the hospital will be bringing endocrinology and rheumatology clinics. This is a great start but I feel we need to accomplish this and even more. We should be looking at additional subspecialty clinics, (nephrology, surgical subspecialties and pediatric subspecialties.) We need to increase AVH’s presence in the mid-valley, refine our orthopedic services and investigate the need for other subspecialties: all with the intention of providing better services and care right here in our valley.

The biggest job in front of the board of directors is to hire a CEO. What does the ultimate candidate look like? Is a local candidate who knows the community and hospital preferable? I think we need to look at all candidates, whether they are local or outside of our area. The most important qualifications to look for in a CEO are experience and the ability to execute the vision of the board. With that in mind, we need the candidate to be involved, engaged and one who can work collaboratively with the medical staff, the hospital staff, as well as integrate the board and community into a collective action. The CEO needs to have a fundamental understanding of hospital operations. Additionally, I think we need to have a CEO who has an understanding of critical access hospitals and what that entails. The CEO needs to have an intimate understanding of our district and the people that live here. The candidate should have an understanding of how a resort community can have significant seasonal shifts in volume. Finally, I think the CEO should have some experience working at a not-for-profit organization. Many hospitals are for profit organizations and focus on the bottom line. Aspen Valley Hospital is a non-profit and its mission is to deliver extraordinary health care in an environment of excellence, compassion and trust. We need a CEO who embodies that philosophy and can lead the hospital towards that goal.

What do you want voters to know about you? I want the voters to know that I am not only a physician but I am also a member of this community. My family is actively involved in the schools and extracurricular activities. Through these interactions, I have the opportunity to talk with the people living here. I understand both the patients’ needs and our community’s expectation for having excellent health care available locally. I bring the experience and knowledge necessary to serve as your elected official to the Hospital Board. If elected, I will bring great enthusiasm, experience and expertise to all the issues that affect our hospital with an eye towards how to best serve our patient’s needs. You have a voice in how our community hospital is managed and I hope I can count on your support.