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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Safety is their priority

May 05, 2020 09:34AM ● By Beacon Senior News

Local hospitals go above in patient, staff safety during COVID-19

Editor’s note: This story is mostly a compilation of resources and reports from press releases we’ve received from St. Mary’s Hospital and Community Hospital in Grand Junction, Delta County Memorial Hospital and Montrose Memorial Hospital (as of 5/1/2020). It’s important for readers to know that while all our hospitals are going the extra mile to ensure patient and staff safety, they likely have differences in policies and procedures. Check with your preferred hospital for their most up-to-date COVID safety news and information.

In an environment that already featured significant challenges for rural hospitals, our community hospitals have taken on one more important challenge: fighting COVID-19.

Hospitals across the nation have opened COVID-specific units to care for both critically ill ventilated patients and those with minimal need for respiratory support, in addition to continuing to care for patients in all other areas of the hospitals. Many hospitals, including those locally, have established multiple protocols to keep patients safe no matter what they’re seeking care for.

At Grand Junction’s Community Hospital, additional safety measures include screening everyone who enters the hospital, requiring all staff to wear a mask while at work, regular and rigorous cleaning throughout the facility, and encouraging people to call their provider or emergency department prior to presenting to the health care facility.

Montrose Memorial Hospital (MMH) follows guidance from government and public health officials, including establishing non-COVID Care zones, having social distancing measures, and applying pre-screenings.

Delta County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) staff encourages residents to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, stay home when possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick, wear a mask when leaving the house, and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

A press release from St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction assures patients that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital’s emergency rooms are prepared and ready for medical emergencies of all kinds.

“Emergency medical conditions don’t stop even for a global pandemic,” said St. Mary’s Emergency Department Medical Director William Hilty, MD. “We are seeing patients in the emergency room that are worried to be here, including parents with infants that have high fevers. They visibly relax once we show them that our respiratory patients have a completely separate triage process.”

St. Mary’s Hospital is keeping all other patients safe and separated from respiratory patients by having completely separate waiting rooms, exam rooms, and even entrances.

Elective surgeries resuming

patient safety

With the state transitioning to a more relaxed “safer at home” initiative, hospitals are announcing that some elective surgeries will resume.

A press release from DCMH states that elective surgeries will resume April 29 based on physician discretion for conditions that are non-life-threatening. DCMH has been and will continue to perform all urgent and emergent procedures while ensuring personal protective equipment (PPE) and other hospital resources are maintained in adequate supply to meet the critical care needs of the community.

“As a rural hospital, we were not mandated to postpone elective surgeries, however, Delta Hospital chose to delay non-critical and non-emergency procedures to allow our medical system to prepare for new demands as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to conserve our PPE,” said DCMH CEO Matthew Heyn. “As we begin to reintegrate core health care services, all patients will be COVID-19 tested prior to having a procedure performed.”

DCMH also recommends patients isolate for up to 10 days prior to elective surgeries and asks that patients wear a mask upon entering the hospital. Protocols such as verbal screenings for all persons prior to entering the hospital and clinics will also remain in place as well as pre-operation testing on all patients and certain visitor restrictions with exceptions.

MMH and Black Canyon Surgical Center restored elective procedures beginning Monday, April 27 with strong adherence to extra precautions. MMH also announced that they would re-open diagnostic testing, imaging and physical therapy services in a limited capacity.

“Our top priority is to offer elective surgeries to our community in the safest way possible,” said MMH CEO James Kiser. “We are working closely with our surgeons to ensure this goal is met. We will be taking extra precautions to ensure our patients, staff and providers have a safe environment for everyone involved.”

Telehealth and testing

Community Hospital is among the hospitals that are expanding telemedicine services to allow patients to meet with their provider remotely during COVID-19.

“Telemedicine is something that we have offered for many years both in our clinical settings and at the hospital but COVID-19 has certainly underscored the importance of this additional health care resource for our patients,” said Community Hospital President and CEO Chris Thomas.

DCMH will continue to prioritize COVID-19 testing resources toward hospitalized, critically-ill patients, health care personnel appropriate for testing and those on a case-by-case basis. Patients can be tested when recommended by their primary care provider. COVID-19 tests are now being performed at DCMH primary care clinics.

“We are confident that these continued precautionary measures will keep our patients, staff and community safe as we move forward,” said Heyn. “As we move into the Safer-at-Home guidelines in response to COVID-19, we want our community to know that we have been and are prepared to continue adapting to the new phases of the pandemic.”

Don’t put off emergency care

patient safety

Though these safety measures add an extra layer of precaution in preventing the spread of the virus, health care providers want to reassure people that it is safe to access health care in the hospital setting or physician’s office.

Hospitals have seen a significant decline in patient visits during COVID-19 and there is a growing concern that residents are foregoing medical treatment, even in emergency situations, which can be life-threatening.

“We have seen a dramatic drop in stroke patients at the ER and that is worrisome,” said St. Mary’s Hospital Stroke Coordinator Kelly Arnold. “We know that the rate of stroke has not slowed, so the conclusion is that these patients are not getting the treatment they need.”

Delaying a trip to the emergency room can have devastating consequences. No matter how serious the situation, St. Mary’s wants people to know that they offer the highest level of ER care in a completely safe environment. Please don’t hesitate to call 911 or get to the ER right away. Emergencies don’t stop for COVID-19 and neither do our medical teams.

Contact your preferred hospital for more info

Community Hospital:

Delta County Memorial Hospital:

Montrose Memorial Hospital:

St. Mary’s Hospital:

Family Health West:

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