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
“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.”