Hospital Corner – July, 2020

Hospital Corner – July, 2020

A medical provider recently confided in me that he didn’t give coronavirus much thought when it gained national attention last winter; considered it just another type of flu that would vanish in spring.  He attributed all the alarm and panic over the disease to media hype and misinformation.  Of course, he was not alone in that sentiment; most of us never imagined COVID-19 would worsen over summer.  But here we are on the cusp of August and infection rates in Nevada and many parts of the country are skyrocketing.  Just about all of us are believers now, including that provider.  A close friend of his spent weeks fighting the disease and suffered throughout, and is just now on the mend.  Bottom line: we can quickly put an end to this pandemic by wearing masks, washing hands, and being smart.  If we don’t, then this crisis will become the “new normal” so often mentioned these days.  As much as we like to think Mineral County is protected from such events, we are not.  With more than ten cases and climbing, our failure to act responsibly will expose more of our family and friends to the virus.  My apologies for belaboring the point, but smokers, the obese, the elderly and others with underlying health problems will suffer the most. Do the right thing.

Sadly, innocent victims of the recent spike in cases are nursing home residents and hospital patients.  They are no longer allowed visitors (end-of-life compassionate visits the lone exception).  We were on the verge of opening up all hospital and clinic operations to greater public access but now must return to “lockdown” mode.  Entry screenings will continue, mask or face shield mandatory, and elective procedures again require a negative test result.  Please comply with all directions from hospital and clinic staff—for your safety, theirs, and others.

Related issue concerns emergency room visits.  In an effort to reduce needless risk of exposure and lengthy wait times, please remember that an ER visit is for a true emergency. In any given month, of the 200 or so ER visits we see at Mt. Grant, only about a third are actual emergencies; the others are sunburns, minor sprains, headaches, colds and coughs, sore throats and the like.  These are urgent issues, not emergent, and much better suited to clinic visits.  Same-day clinic visits are available Monday through Friday; call me if you have any trouble making an appointment.

Earlier this month, three tractor trailers maneuvered about the tiny hospital parking lot on the same morning.  One was our weekly MRI truck and trailer, but the others signaled the start of month-long CT scanner project. Thanks to funds provided by the William N. Pennington Foundation, the installation of our new $1.3 million scanner has begun. A second semi picked up the old 16-slice scanner for destinations unknown; the third dropped off our temporary mobile CT sitting out front now.  It will remain in place while CT room is remodeled to accommodate the new 64-slice scanner.  Regardless of the challenges, we are upgrading diagnostic technology at Mt. Grant General to better serve our patients.

We initiated a local community paramedicine program in late 2018. Since then, dozens of homebound patients throughout the county have received regular visits for wellness checkups, lab work, and medication compliance.  While somewhat related to traditional hospital operations, oversight of CP services required more time and effort than possible. As noted before, we are fortunate that Mineral County Fire has assumed control of the program, ensuring the same homecare as always but now with dedicated leadership. Thank you to Chief Lawrence, Program Administrator Heidi Johnson, and of course Charlie Mann for their commitment to this vital mission.

Hard to believe it has been two years since Joanie Gazaway left us. In addition to donating her piano to the nursing home soon after, her husband George recently made a sizable gift to support activity programs for our residents. Thank you, George (and Joanie).

Hugh Qualls, Administrator