Letter to the Editor: A message from Rio Grande Hospital CEO

To the editor,

 Each of our lives has been incredibly impacted this past week as we watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold in the U.S. Uncertainty and fear of the future can be paralyzing as we begin to adjust to a new normal and one that has never been experienced before this time. I want to assure you that we have an amazing team for you here at Rio Grande Hospital. Although we now have two cases of COVID-19 here in Rio Grande County and I suspect there will be more in the coming weeks, we are taking measures to help control the spread, which I want to talk to you about. One of the best ways to stop the spread is to “stay in place,” this is a term that we are hearing continually on the television and social media, but what it means is that you should stay home and not go out of your home any more than you need to for essential things like groceries or medicine. Restrict travel to a minimum. If you must be around other people, maintain a six-foot distance. If you have to work, go there and then go back home. We know it has worked for other areas in the world to slow down the steep curve of increasing numbers of people becoming sick from COVID-19. The present curve will quickly rise above the Colorado hospitals’ capability to take care of the sick, so it is imperative for each of us to do our part and help to stop the spread in any way we can. Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID infection has been asked to isolate during the duration of the illness. Additionally, please know that there is a shortage of tests in the U.S. and only a few places capable of performing the tests. There is now a 7-day wait or more for obtaining the results. I know this has been frustrating for everyone, but the Health Department Lab is working day and night with heavy backlogs, there are two other national commercial labs performing the tests but are also overwhelmed with the numbers.

Rio Grande Hospital has begun to responsively take aim at this new enemy, but we need your help. Most people will have cold or flu symptoms with fever and body aches but will not require being seen by a provider or going to the ER. It is so important that at the beginning of symptoms, you isolate in an area away from other people, including those in the household. If the disease does develop into acute shortness of breath, our ER is ready to take care of you. Please call before arriving so we are ready.

We are in the fiercest battle of our lives, but I believe in the people of the San Luis Valley, and we will do whatever is needed to conquer COVID-19. Thanks to the incredible staff at RGH; and to our supportive and courageous communities.

For any questions or concerns, please call our COVID-19 information line at 719-657-4990. Calls are answered between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If outside of those hours, feel free to leave a message and your call will be returned the next morning. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.


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