Originally called the Larimer County Hospital, Poudre Valley Health System was founded in 1925. Back then, it was a 40-bed facility built on the outer limits of Fort Collins. The original hospital was built for $181,000, with the now-developed land adjacent to the hospital used to raise vegetables and livestock to feed patients.
As what happened to many hospitals in Colorado, the population started to grow. Having a university close by made the increase for the hospital even more demanding. After World War II, the increased enrollment at what is now Colorado State University helped the Fort Collins population grow, and the hospital grew, as well, doubling its capacity to 86 beds.
The hospital’s biggest advance, however, came in 1960 when local voters approved a ballot issue which created the Poudre Valley Hospital District. By doing this, the district was able to collect an annual mill levy on property taxes. The revenue of this collection was used to improve technology and expand the hospital operation, working to meet the public’s growing health care demands.
Although the formation of the district was not easy, requiring a new state law, which passed the state Legislature in 1958, the new district board placed a mill levy on property taxes and then purchased the hospital and accompanying land from the county.
In 1962, the hospital was renamed Poudre Valley Memorial Hospital, a name that would be changed again in 1982 when "Memorial" was dropped from the name.
In 1994, the district board completed a major organizational restructuring. Now operated by a not-for-profit, nongovernmental charitable corporation under the terms of a 50-year lease with the hospital district, this allows Poudre Valley Health System to be more flexible in responding to the rapid changes in health care. This also means Poudre Valley Health System no longer receives any revenue from local property taxes.
Today, Poudre Valley Hospital has 235 beds and is the leading source of health care for residents in northeastern Colorado, western Kansas and Nebraska and southern Wyoming.
The hospital’s mission of being an independent, non-profit organization, providing innovative, high quality, comprehensive care that exceeds customer expectations has been recognized on several occasions – many of them firsts in the state and region.
Poudre Valley was the first hospital in the Rocky Mountain region to earn the "Magnet Award" for nursing excellence – the 18th nationally to earn the award – and was listed as one of the "100 Best Hospitals" for excellence in orthopedic surgery – the only hospital in Colorado to be awarded this designation.
According to Lynelle Diede, patient care coordinator on the hospital’s surgical floor, the reality of these awards speaks volumes about the hospital and its mission.
"They truly value their employees," she said. "The team work here is incredible, and the hospital really includes us in a lot of the decision making. This really helps promote positive aspects in nursing."
In addition to the Heart Center of the Rockies, the Regional Neurosciences Center, the Regional Orthopedic Center, and being a Level II Trauma Center, the hospital also offers a wide variety of other services and areas of expertise. The hospital also offers a great deal of community outreach programs, ranging in target ages from children to the elderly.
The hospital’s family medical center offers comprehensive medical care for children, adults and seniors with services that include obstetrics, on-site radiology and minor surgery.
Healthy Kid’s Club, a program designed to help kids develop healthy habits when they are young, promotes health and wellness to kids in local elementary and junior high schools with activities after school. Along with the after school activities and programs, the Healthy Kid’s Club also offers special events and community-wide health, exercise and nutrition programs.
For those who are older in the community, the hospital offers the Aspen Club, a membership organization for people 50 and older. The free membership to the program offers streamlined hospital admission, hospital cafeteria discounts, discounts on health-screening procedures and a variety of other medical and social programs.
The most rewarding part of working at Poudre Valley Health System for Diede is the nurse-to-patient ratio. The hospital, which tries to keep the nurse/patient ratio to five patients per nurse, has done a great job with that goal, according to Diede.
"The nurse/patient ratio is the best I’ve ever heard of," she said. "In the time I’ve been here, I’ve had seven patients only once – and I very rarely have six. This is a key selling point for new nurses. This is why you get into nursing – to care for your patients. If you have too many patients, it’s hard to care for them all the way you’d like to.
"When you have a hospital that agrees with your personal goals, it really works. This hospital has exceeded my expectations."
by Jason P. Smith