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Gunnison Valley Health creates a comprehensive plan to safely resume elective surgeries.

Gunnison Valley Health has created a comprehensive plan to safely resume elective surgeries ensuring its patients, healthcare employees and physicians are protected as the COVID-19 curve flattens in the Valley.

Gunnison Valley Health’s CEO Rob Santilli said that during the pandemic, emergency surgeries continued and based on national guidelines in collaboration with surgical physicians, nurses and Gunnison County’s Health and Human Services, the hospital is in a strong position to resume elective surgeries.

“Non-essential surgeries were postponed in order to conserve adequate supplies, especially personal protective equipment (PPE) and our employees during the crisis,” said Santilli. “As the number of COVID-19 cases have plateaued in our Valley, our detailed plan has taken into consideration recommendations from the American Hospital Association, American College of Surgeons and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) who have developed best thinking practices in this area,” he said.

Santilli confirmed the new initiatives include mandatory COVID-19 testing for each patient at least 72 hours prior to surgery, supply of adequate PPE for all employees, a private space in the surgery department for patients to recover and utilizing the UV Lytbot technology after each procedure to reliably eliminate any bacteria that may be present.

For some local community members, resuming elective surgery is a welcomed relief. Local blacksmith, Levi Rugheimer, injured his dominate shoulder in a skiing accident just before the pandemic hit the Gunnison Valley. Although blacksmithing is classified as an essential service, Levi has been unable to work or lift a hammer.

“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to get this surgery and the timing is perfect,” said Rugheimer. “To be able to recover during this slow period means I will be healed when work begins to ramp up in the summer,” he said.

Santilli confirmed the decision to resume elective surgeries was not taken lightly.

“Our main priority is to gradually resume the service safely and provide a high level of confidence that our patients, employees and physicians are well protected,” he said. “I believe our detailed plan takes into account every consideration to ensure we are one of the safest hospitals in the State.”