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There is a gentleman named Roy Spence who wrote a book entitled, “It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for.” The message is simple. More important than any product or service, what matters to people is the ground your organization stands on. The question isn’t so much “what do we do” as much as it is “what do we believe in.” Here at Gunnison Valley Health we believe in each other. We believe in the strength and power of this community and the people in this community health system. We believe that caring for each other, caring for our friends, neighbors, and family, is the most important job we have. And I’m proud to say that we do it incredibly well.

In 2016 we were recognized as one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the country for the fifth time. More specifically, out of over 2100 rural hospitals nationally, we found out we are performing in the top 1.2%. That means we rank in the top 25 of rural hospitals in the entire country. Our patient satisfaction scores from the last quarter of 2016 are not just impressive, they are downright exemplary–in 11 areas of patient care we are ranked in the top 1% of all hospitals nationally.

We have accomplished this not by focusing on a product or a service, but by staying committed to our community and to each other. And we are strong because of it.

Now that 2016 is wrapped up, I have a few things I’d like to highlight for you:

 Family Birth Center.

Thanks to generous community support through our Foundation, our Family Birth Center underwent a complete renovation this past fall. The new design transformed the birthing rooms. Remote fetal heart rate monitoring and improved resting space for partners and family members are just some of the improvements incorporated into the new Family Birth Center. Feedback from both doctors and staff lead to improvements that will affect not only the patient experience but also streamline and strengthen the level of care provided to the newest members of this community that we call home. Our new Family Birth Center ensures that future generations of our valley arrive in style with the most sophisticated care.

Behavioral Health.

Mental and Behavioral Health is a significant topic of conversation nationally. Fulfilling our mission of improving the health of our community means addressing not only clinical care but behavioral health as well. In partnership with the Center for Mental Health we hired a behavioral health specialist to serve our patients. We have also collaborated with Swedish Medical Center to provide 24/7 psychiatric support for our Emergency Department. Around-the-clock psychiatrist coverage in a small hospital is unheard of, but we have accomplished just that. This is just one example of how we are transforming the culture and redefining the model of rural healthcare.
Mountain Clinic.

We have invested significant resources to provide incredible care in the North end of the valley through the GVH Mountain Clinic. As the only state licensed Community Clinic and Emergency Center in the valley, the Mountain Clinic provides peace of mind and assurance that skilled and compassionate care is there when you need it.

Cancer Care.

Our cancer care is stronger than it ever has been. We now have two medical oncology physicians serving our cancer patients. Our Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship program helps cancer survivors recover, rebuild, and restore. Dr. Jennifer Butterfield provides reconstructive surgery services for our community’s breast cancer patients. In partnership with Tough Enough to Wear Pink we have also added an oncology nurse navigator to help make cancer treatment here in the Gunnison Valley as seamless as possible. Be on the lookout for further developments in our cancer care program in the future.

Community Health Needs.

We completed a Community Health Needs Assessment to identify the healthcare needs of our community. Among the highest priority items identified were mental health, cancer care, and physician recruitment, all of which we are actively working to address. Our future plans, as well as steps we have already taken, align with the needs we are hearing from the community.

We’ve accomplished a lot in 2016. And we have a lot on the horizon for the coming year:

Total Joint Replacements.

With our valley’s strong record of orthopedic care, we are now pleased to have a growing Total Joint Replacement center. Multiple talented surgeons coupled with a dedicated support team and infection control measures that have resulted in a 0% infection rate means our community can receive the total care they deserve in a total joint replacement right here at home.

Diagnostic Imaging.

We have always worked to redefine what rural healthcare can look like. We’re doing it again through a planned partnership with Radiology Imaging Associates, a group of 90 world-class radiologists, all of whom are sub-specialists that will be giving definitive radiology interpretations. 90 diagnostic imaging sub-specialists serving our little community, from CT to MRI to’s a level of excellence unlike any other for a community such as ours.

Senior Care.

Our dream of a new model for senior living in the Gunnison Valley is moving closer to a reality. The Baby Boomer generation expects a different type of care and we are taking steps to address their expectations with a new philosophy of care and a new facility to match that philosophy. The neighborhood model of senior living incorporates increased social space and a greater focus on community living to address the physical, social, and mental wellbeing of our residents.

Primary and Urgent Care.

We are exploring the possibility of developing a new primary care facility that would incorporate urgent care and further our partnership with integrative medicine practitioners throughout the valley.

The big picture:

What does all this mean? It means we are strong. We are strong in the care we provide, strong in our patient results, strong in our finances, and strong for each other. What a gift it is to be a part of such a talented team. Thank you, Gunnison Valley, for letting us serve you and for entrusting us with your care and the care of your loved ones. It is a profound responsibility that we all take very seriously here at Gunnison Valley Health.

As we look to 2017, I invite your feedback. Let me know how we’re doing, share your stories with me, or give me a heads up about an opportunity to improve. Email me at

Enjoy the rest of your winter.
Rob Santilli, CEO

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