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Coronavirus Q&A with Aspen Valley Hospital CEO David Ressler

Staff report
Aspen Valley Hospital.
Aspen Times File

The Aspen Times posed the following questions to Aspen Valley Hospital CEO David Ressler on Tuesday. As of 7:06 p.m. Tuesday, this is what Ressler had to give for an update:

The Aspen Times: How many coronavirus patients are currently hospitalized at Aspen Valley Hospital?

David Ressler: We do not currently have any positive coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital. We have two patients currently being tested.

AT: How many coronavirus tests has the hospital administered?

Ressler: AVH has administered five tests, not including the public testing that took place March 11 and 12, and not including the tests administered on the Australian visitors. Of the five, four have been for inpatients (including the two above), and one was an exposed health care worker.

AT: Does AVH expect to reach capacity, and if so, when?

Ressler: For surge planning purposes, we are assuming we will reach or exceed capacity, eventually. Importantly, however, we can reduce the likelihood of this scenario, if we are effective with flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases through community-wide disciplined mitigation measures, including holding ourselves accountable for social distancing, effective hygiene, and strict self-isolation for those with symptoms. Without mitigation, we would expect a spike in admissions to the Hospital that would at least greatly strain and likely completely overwhelm our limited resources.

AT: What is AVH’s contingency plan in the event the hospital reaches its 25-bed capacity?

Ressler: The answer is multi-part. We are first planning to transfer patients who require mechanical ventilation (breathing for them) to hospitals that provide a higher level of care at a lower elevation. Next, we participate in EMResource, an online and real-time resource for monitoring the availability of beds and equipment at Colorado hospitals. This will allow us to collectively distribute patients based on capacity levels. It is also important to keep in mind that, beyond beds, other limited resources may apply, such as ventilators, negative-pressure isolation rooms, and staffing. To address all of these, we have developed surge plans that utilize all available resources in the manner necessary to meet immediate needs, typically involving flexible solutions (space, staffing, equipment, etc.) and processes that are developed specifically for surge conditions.

AT: What other locations are being considered for use if the hospital reaches capacity?

Ressler: As stated above, a higher level of care at a lower altitude is our first choice when determining which hospital to transfer a patient to. This typically means Grand Junction and the Front Range, depending on weather, transport availability, capacity at each hospital, specialties available and other factors. If we require transfers to reduce over-saturation of capacity, then we will use EMResource to identify the next closest and appropriate facility.

AT: Are any AVH employees, doctors or nurses staying home because of symptoms? Are any known to have COVID-19?

Ressler: Yes, we have an increasing number of staff who are staying at home and in isolation due to symptoms that range from very minor to moderate. Not all symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, however, and we normally ask employees with any suspected contagious illness to remain at home. At this time, no employees are known to have COVID-19.


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