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The multi-million dollar expansion of the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center is on time and under budget, and a first administrative walk-through left a positive impression, the hospital’s board was told this week.

CEO Bob Morasko said he was pleased with what he saw on the tour and called for few corrections outside changes to some interior doors and changing full-length windows in first-floor offices that may be designated as patient exam rooms as well as additional computer access points in some interior rooms.

He said the next walk-through would involve hospital staff for their review.

The total estimated cost of the expansion – constructing the Outpatient Services Pavilion, expanding the lab and adding new parking lots – is nearly $27 million.

The board also approved the purchase of two Steris AMSCO 400 cabinet units for sterilization for surgery at a cost of $127,322.

The units will replace two older autoclaves, and the decision to purchase the units is related to the temporary cancellation of elective surgeries at the hospital in late July as a precautionary move after questions arose about the sterile integrity of the two autoclave units.

Staff determined that some of the surgical wraps protecting trays of sterilized surgical instruments appeared to be compromised. No patients were affected, and elective surgeries were started again four days later on July 30. Hospital officials said the equipment was ordered to add redundancy to the sterilization.

The board also heard about preparations to begin work on the helicopter hangar and crew quarters project, estimated at more than $921,000, which will provide a base for the helicopter and crew now stationed at Central Colorado Regional Airport near Buena Vista.

In May, REACH Air Medical Services announced their partnership with the HRRMC Air Link Program. Jason Knudson, program director for REACH in Buena Vista, said he looks forward to the new facility and that working with the HRRMC staff was rewarding.

“You can’t get better support (than) from the staff at Heart of the Rockies. … It’s great to work with people who have vision for health care that takes care of their communities; they’re great, they really are,” Knudson said.

“They’re highly capable, which is what you expect out of a hospital and out of medical care providers. … I’m just really impressed with these guys,” he added.

Knudson said the Airbus H1215 Eurocopter stationed here will be manually rolled into its hangar after landing.

In other board action, Vice President of Patient Services April Asbury presented the 2017 Critical Access Report, an extensive survey required by Medicare. It shows more growth in demand and services provided at HRRMC.

Among the new services and personnel added to existing services were pain management and psychiatry. The report also says the dialysis unit is now fully operational.

There was also “significant growth” for outpatient volumes in rehab services in Salida and Buena Vista, the speciality clinics, infusion and chemotherapy, and the imaging departments, the survey notes.

The report shows the average length of a patient stay at 3.2 days with an average daily census of 10.44 patients and a hospital occupancy average of just over 33 percent.

Total acute patient care volume was pegged at 973 with 110 obstetric, 52 intensive care, and 811 adult and pediatric patients. There were 77 swing bed patients, 413 observation, 109 newborn and 21 hospice patients.

The survey also points to a quality and process improvement effort, including improvement teams working on sepsis prevention, an antimicrobial stewardship program, a peer review process and a strengthening of patient safety by encouraging diligence and a proactive stance among staff members.

The lengthy report contains much more information and is available on the HRRMC website.

The board heard from Chair Debbie Farrell and member Jean Moltz on efforts to explore expanding services in the northern end of the county.

An accompanying report on July services at the Buena Vista Health Center Walk-in Clinic shows strong demand – 84 out-of-state patients; 125 from Buena Vista; 44 from Salida, Poncha Springs and Nathrop; and single-digit numbers of patients from Leadville, Hartsel, Fairplay and other areas.

The Walk-In Clinic opened for one day a week in September 2017, expanding to six days a week in early 2018 and started Sunday hours in June.

It was noted that the clinic is extending its hours for the Labor Day weekend Seven Peaks concert, with services from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. The clinic will be closed on Labor Day, Sept. 3.