Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center CEO Bob Morasko praised the hospital’s staff and administration during recent preparations for COVID-19 at the Salida Hospital District board’s virtual meeting Tuesday.

Morasko said, “Inside, looking out, it’s impressive to watch our staff.”

In addition to the board’s regular business, April Asbury, HRRMC vice president of patient services, gave the board a rundown on preparations at the hospital and clinics toward caring for an influx of patients expected in coming weeks due to COVID-19.

Asbury said the HRRMC labor pool in clinical and nonclinical tracks is being very well managed. Efforts are being made to assure appropriate cross-training is being done to comply with regulatory and safety requirements for patients.

Asbury said there is a short window to plan before patient volume starts to climb.

One area of focus has been repurposing of some areas to increase the number of negative pressure rooms.

Negative pressure rooms use lower air pressure to allow outside air into a contained environment (i.e., a hospital room), then traps and keeps potentially infectious and contagious particles within the room by preventing internal air from leaving the space. This is a widely used technique to isolate patients with infectious conditions.

The hospital already had two negative pressure rooms and is expanding its capacity by converting spaces normally used for nonemergent procedures that are not being carried out presently, including an operating room and one of the two intensive care unit rooms, among others.

“We’re as prepared to transition as we can be,” Asbury said.

She said right now the hospital has great inventory for supplies and is waiting for supplies from the national stockpile from El Paso County but is also thinking ahead to possible shortages of some supplies such as gowns and masks, and will be soliciting donations from the community.

Debbie Farrell, board president, mentioned the FDA’s emergency approval of new testing materials that can potentially be processed by a hospital lab.

These tests have not yet been deployed, but she said testing supply companies are hoping to get them out to users in April.

Peter Edis, vice president of business development, told the board many clinical services have amended their practices by having a half day of face-to-face clinics for urgent or emergent patients and telemedicine clinics for other patients in the afternoon.

He said some doctors and nurses in the HRRMC system have been reallocated into the labor pool for COVID-19 management.

Dr. Daniel Wardrop said he had been approached by several local physicians with offers of assistance as well.

“Everyone’s been very cooperative,” Morasko said.

In other business, the board heard a presentation on the 2019 audit from Tammy Rivera and Lindie Eads of accounting firm BKD LLP. Rivera said the company’s audit of hospital finances for 2019 was clean with only one adjustment.

Rivera said there were no material weaknesses and no significant deficiencies .

Total assets for 2019 were $122,272,718, compared to $115,292,097 for 2018 and $92,414,811 for 2017.

The board also approved the 2019 Annual Critical Access Hospital report and the 2019 Emergency Management/Environment of Care annual report before adjourning to executive session.

From our sister paper The Mountain Mail at www.themountainmail.com

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