Vail Daily letter: Keep heart program affordable
Regarding Vail Valley Medical Center’s cardiac rehab programs:Hoping the Vail Valley Medical Center board reads this. What a loss for this “world class” valley with our aging population base-many of whom are the “founding” workers and athletes of this world-class resort area, who are now vulnerable to heart attacks and heart disease.We were lucky to have a local division of these national programs through the Vail Valley Medical Center – and one that was nationally certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (not many are) – due to the hard work and dedication of Jeanne Stough and her staff.Recently, and without warning, the chief financial officer of the Vail Valley Medical Center, Charles Crevling, decided to increase users’ fees for a portion of the Cardiac Rehab program by 400 percent – not 4 percent, not 40 percent, but 400 percent.This sudden maneuver comes on the heels of the VVMC “big wigs” honoring the cardiac rehab department for achieving the highest ratings for client satisfaction out of all VVMC departments.This increase specifically and only targets “locals”- Eagle County residents. The cardiac rehab program called “Phase 3” (prescribed and recommended by your doctor) allows the victims of a heart “event” (or those who have a high likelihood of having an attack) to join a weekly program for a nominal fee every month. VVMC-trained professionals help clients develop an exercise routine, record blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, provide educational materials on nutrition diet, medications, and much more.Most health insurances only pay for this program for the first three months after the attack. Therefore, those that continue into the Phase 3 cardiac rehab programs pay the monthly fee out of their own pocket – to better their health, enjoy an active life after a heart attack, and hopefully prevent another one.This monthly ongoing revenue for VVMC will now be lost (due to the 400 percent extortion). Most cardiac rehab programs across the U.S. are not money-makers – nor has this one ever been budgeted to make money. Our cardiac rehab program is like many other health prevention programs-a community service. And, the board of directors surely knew this from the beginning!Maybe the CFO should re-read VVMC’s Mission & Vision Statement that in part says: “VVMC will continue its development as an independent, not for profit medical center, providing superior health services aligned to the needs of Eagle County residents and visitors … “Were alternatives such as grant writing ever budgeted for by the CFO? Did anyone ever approach the VVMC Foundation? Both grants and the foundation support many other health-oriented services (for example, our own Jack’s Place, The Shaw Cancer Center, Sonnenalp Breast Imaging Center, etc.). Were other items put on the VVMC “chopping block” before eliminating “local” programs? There has been very little communication (or press) on these issues that reduce our residents’ health care. In this valley where we have “world class” orthopedics, “world class” foundations for performing arts and medical programs, a “world-class” cancer treatment center, (etc., etc., etc.) wouldn’t you think that we could afford a cardiac rehab program? The only “locals” that will be able to afford the new VVMC cardiac rehab program will be our “world-class” citizens like Lindsey Vonn. We can only hope that the VVMC board of directors will not allow this to happen.