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Your Healthy Family: UCHealth Memorial following surge plan into challenging times

Posted at 1:43 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 15:43:56-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Following up on Tuesday’s news that UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs has rented 52 additional specialized beds for use in the intensive care unit, nearly doubling their overall I.C.U. capacity, they are following their surge plan into very challenging times.

Mark Mayes is the associate chief nursing officer at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Mark says, “These are not normal times, this is a pandemic. This is a time in which we are pulling out all the stops to try to make our space safe and available for patients if they need care in our hospitals.”

As we have told you in previous stories, Memorial has reassigned nurses from desk jobs or postponed surgeries to handle the current spike in patients. Now as these newly added ICU beds are put into use there will be someone to assist with patient care, but meeting the coming challenge just isn’t about adding new beds.

“The post-Thanksgiving surge is something we are preparing for right now as the virus incubates and people get sick and are hospitalized. That's the next surge we're looking for. Here at Memorial we have some rooms that are not normally staffed that have what we call head walls. It’s a patient room that has an oxygen connection, vacuum connection, extra electrical connections and air connections needed, so we can place a patient in there. The staffing part is the hardest challenge because we’re not normally staffed to handle those new beds and there is not an overwhelming supply of nurses we can bring in because they are busy staffing surges in their own state and in their own areas.”

Memorial Hospital is also converting more rooms to negative air flow to limit the spread of the virus in the hospital. “Our facilities team has done an amazing job of doing HVAC changes within the system and bringing HEPA filters into the rooms and doing some ducting from the rooms.”

Even during this current COVID spike, Mark says it’s critical the people in our community do not ignore other health emergencies when they happen. “We want to strongly encourage people that may be experiencing non-COVID symptoms like heart attack or stroke or other emergencies to be assured they can come to our facility and receive care. That is very important for the community to know they can come to our hospital and our emergency departments and get good care.”

Meeting this current challenge is going to take more than the staff at Memorial doing what they can. Mark says, “Everybody knows what those things are, social distance, good hand hygiene, and wearing your mask. Those are things we can all do to protect our friends and neighbors if not yourself. We encourage people to do those things every day and buckle down and do as much as you can so that we can get through this surge. I think everybody has seen the death toll that is steadily rising across the country and here in Colorado, that is shocking and disturbing. Every death that we could prevent, we should try to prevent.”

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