COLORADO SPRINGS — As Colorado begins the governor’s new “Safer at Home” phase of our state’s continuing COVID-19 mitigation efforts, it's important to keep in perspective that all the “Stay at Home” measures we have been through were necessary. Many aspects of “Safer at Home” are the same and meant to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. The mitigation efforts were never meant to eliminate the virus, and no reputable health expert ever said they were.
Dr. David Steinbruner, associate chief medical officer at UCHealth Memorial, says until there is a definitive treatment or vaccine, it’s important to understand COVID-19 will continue to be a reality in our lives.
”We know it's going to be around and we are suspecting it's going to come back in the fall. We have to be cognizant of that and ready for that and take the same precautions we have been asked to take: Social distancing, using a mask in public when we can't social distance, washing your hands repeatedly, being thoughtful about potentially spreading or picking up the virus and trying to protect those people who are most at risk, and the vulnerable populations. We just have to continue to do that and be thoughtful about it.”
Dr. Steinbruner adds that all of the sacrifices and hardships we’ve all experienced were needed and have laid a solid foundation moving forward.
“We really appreciate everything that everyone's done in El Paso County, not only to follow the rules about social distancing, and decreasing the curve and decreasing the numbers but also the outpouring of support to all our providers - the E.V.S. (environmental service workers), security and all the people working in and around the hospital to take care of your loved ones. That support has had such a tremendous effect on everyone's morale.”
Going forward we should all make sure we are not under the false pretense that as we slowly re-open our state’s economy, everything will go back to how it was before the pandemic. There will be continued new cases of COVID-19 and all that comes with them.
Dr. Steinbruner says as we learn to live daily life in a new and careful way, know that our health care workers in southern Colorado say they are as ready as they can be and will be closely watching for any spikes of the virus and working to contain them.
“We think we are as ready as we can be, but you can never be absolutely certain about what you will face. We have had enough time to adjust and see how it has played out in other parts of the country to model the rise of (COVID-19) with - and without - social distancing. We have been doing intensive planning over the last month-and-a-half, of logistics and operational changes. By holding off (until now) on elective surgery we were able to decrease the number of ICU beds we had in use, decrease the number of ventilators in use, while we got more ventilators from other locations and other sources and brought them up to speed - if we need them. We have made many contingency plans if we saw a surge that tried to overwhelm us, and how we can expand our ICU in the hospital while keeping our acute care beds low in numbers so we can absorb anything that happens. It gives us a lot of confidence that we can take whatever surge we know could come, as people start to back off on social distancing, and the virus comes back in the fall.”
In the meantime, if you have a medical emergency remember that the emergency rooms are open and ready to safely treat you. You shouldn't ignore potentially critical symptoms, like chest pain or abdominal pain, stroke symptoms, and shortness of breath that can lead to more serious medical problems if ignored.
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