Renew Roaring Fork’s emergency response plan was kicked into gear and crisis avoided recently after a worker at the Glenwood Springs senior living facility tested positive for COVID-19.
“It was textbook, for sure. I was inspired as a CEO how it was handled,” Renew Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber said.
After an employee was recognized on April 24 as exhibiting symptoms of the disease that’s been declared a global pandemic, the person was immediately tested, as were all of the staff and all 39 residents onsite, nurse and Executive Director Carol Culbertson said.
“In less than an hour and a half, all of the staff and residents were tested and all of the results came back negative,” Culbertson said.
The lone exception was the initial employee who tested positive. That person is now at home in self-quarantine, and will need to be symptom-free for two weeks and be re-tested before being allowed to work again, she said.
“It was difficult to pull off, but it was an amazing call to action between four agencies to activate the strike team,” Culbertson said.
That team involved officials from Garfield County Public Health and Valley View Hospital, as well as Dr. Brooke Allen of Roaring Fork Neurology, who is the medical director for Renew Roaring Fork.
“I can’t say enough about how everything came together and went so smoothly,” Culbertson said. “It was the first true run for the team at Valley View to have to come over and carry out the communicable disease response plan.
“We can focus now on, not that this happened, but how fast we were able to mobilize to protect the residents and our staff.”
Families of residents were also informed of the situation and the outcome, Tuchfarber said.
“Infection control and management is different now than it has ever been, and all of our social isolation measures are heightened,” he said. “These are different times, and we see this as an area of innovation.”
Meanwhile, ramped-up testing at Valley View and other area hospitals with the acquisition of the new saliva-based PCR testing means more specimens are being collected from more patients.
“We are able to do more PCR testing for our patients as we have the new saliva-based test,” Valley View spokeswoman Stacey Gavrell said.
That’s different from the nasopharyngeal (nasal) PCR test that had been in shorter supply locally, she said.
“So, we have both tests, but the saliva has alleviated a lot of challenges that enable us to test more than our hospitalized and high-risk patients,” Gavrell said. “Patients can call their primary care doctors and those providers can order the test if needed.”
Those providers are still screening for symptoms, she said.
Since Tuesday, Valley View has been able to collect an additional 114 specimens for testing and, as of Thursday, 82 tests were pending — up from just 18 pending results on Tuesday.
Grand River Hospital in Rifle had also seen an uptick in specimens collected, from 447 on Tuesday to 493 on Thursday. Grand River has 35 pending results, according to the latest Garfield County hospital statistics.
As of the latest statewide statistics released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Garfield County was holding at 91 confirmed or presumed COVID-19 cases, same as the previous day’s report.
I am extraordinarily impressed by the decisive execution by a combination of Renew Roaring Fork staff, Garfield County Public Health, Valleyview Hospital, and Dr. Brooke Allen of Roaring Fork Neurology to stop transmission of COVID 19.