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What Does Wellness Have To Do With The Future Of Estes Park?


To The Editor:

There has been a lot of talk lately in the community about Wellness. This is an important time in the history of our town and Wellness is right at the center. What is Wellness anyway? What does Wellness have to do with the future of Estes Park?

The World Health Organization defines Wellness as: “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” To me, Wellness means to proactively seek out activities and life changes that promote optimal health of Mind, Body, and Spirit. An example would be to ask yourself, “What is right with me?” rather than, “What is wrong with me?” Wellness will be elevated in the individual who fills their life with health-promoting activities. Wellness is frustrated while we idly wait for disease to creep into our lives, displacing our health, and only then take action. This defensive approach is less effective. Only when we go on the offensive do we take control of our health: our Wellness. If you are busy being well, there is less room for “un-well”, aka: disease.

As members of the community of Estes Park, we are no strangers to this concept. We are united in our affinity for the majestic grandeur of our surroundings. We have declared, in our migration to this heavenly place, that we embrace the concept of Wellness. All around us, nature is personified as it pleads and cries for us to hike, climb, walk, bike, run, ski, board, photograph, drive, and appreciate it; when we listen and then do, we are living in Wellness.

Wellness is a concept that has always been close to my heart. I have always led an active and outdoor lifestyle. In doing so, I have focused on maintaining the precious balance with the spiritual, family, personal, and professional aspects of my life. I seek health. I am so grateful that my avocation has become my vocation. The practice of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine continually brings me joy as I try to help active people stay physically well. In doing so, they are able to continue doing the things they love, which in turn brings them joy.

Wellness has also played an important role in the life of my family. After five years of living on Long Island, New York, for my Orthopedic Surgery residency, my wife and I decided we needed a Wellness change. We moved to Lake Tahoe. While in Lake Tahoe, for a 12-month Sports Medicine fellowship, we grew to appreciate and immerse our little family in a Wellness lifestyle. While in Tahoe, however, we learned firsthand of the economic and financial fragility of a ski town that is extremely dependent on the less-than-reliable snowfall of the Sierra Nevada.

At the completion of my fellowship, with the Wellness of our family in mind, we found a community that was perfect for us. As natives of mountainous Idaho, we were attracted to Estes Park for many reasons. We love it here. After nearly four years of living in Estes Park, I know that our community is not immune to economic and financial fragility; floods and fires have taken a toll. The viability of the small mountain-town hospital has also been challenged by the same adversities. Adding insult to injury, healthcare changes are already upon us, and those changes will significantly affect hospital reimbursement.

Just as multiple inches of rain over a short period culminated in the “perfect storm” that resulted in floods unfamiliar to this area for a thousand years—just as an extremely dry winter followed by soaring summer temperatures and lightning resulted in the “perfect fire storm” that devastated our state—we now have a good type of Perfect Storm upon us that has the potential to bring the Town of Estes Park and Estes Park Medical Center roaring back, with economic and financial viability for years to come. This is a very important time in the history of our town.

This Perfect Storm is made up of a community of united members, with much more in common than we probably realize, who all choose to live here in the spirit of Wellness. This Perfect Storm is made up of Town Administrator Frank Lancaster and EVRPD Executive Director Skyler Rorabaugh. Both of these individuals have the vision and keen skills to nurture the healthy growth of our community. This storm is made up of Brian Herwig, CEO of the medical center, who has risen to this challenge. This storm is made up of John Cullen, who, in his nearly two decades of care and excellent business decisions, has nurtured the Stanley Hotel once again into prominence. It is made of town leaders, organizations, businesses, and individuals who have personally and publically endorsed Wellness and have pledged to take an active role in the future vitality of our community.

We, as voters, at this special time in our town, have the ability to make things happen that will have a positive ripple effect for years to come. I speak of the proposed EPMC/Anschutz Wellness Center. Inherent in the name is the important life-changing concept of Wellness. As yet another proponent of Wellness, our community members have recently had the opportunity to be involved in the planning stages of the proposed Estes Valley Recreation Center. This can be a point of confusion as the two proposed and distinct projects sound similar in concept and are developing simultaneously. This is true, to some degree, in that they both focus on Wellness. Both are very important projects; both will make our community more desirable to visitors, families, individuals, businesses, and homeowners. The EPMC/Anschutz Wellness Center is a business whose primary clientele will be from outside our town and will directly affect Estes Park Medical Center with a positive infusion of revenue, ensuring long-term strength and solvency of our independent hospital. The Estes Valley Recreation Center will primarily serve members of our immediate community with important and much-needed services and healthy activities, all of which will promote individual and community Wellness.

This is a special time to live in our town. It is amazing to think that such a town and group of people, so soon after being struck by the forces of nature and economic hardship, are now poised to proactively overcome this adversity and come roaring back to realize Community and Financial Wellness.

Aaron S. Florence D.O.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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