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Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida. Photo by Dan Smith

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center has added new telemedicine procedures to a list of changes in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of Marketing and Public Relations Allison Gergley said the service, which HRRMC is referring to as “Telehealth services” offer a virtual face-to-face appointment with a medical provider via a video conferencing system. It is completely confidential between medical providers and patients. This system is being provided with family medicine providers at the HRRMC Buena Vista Health Center and HRRMC Salida Health Center.

“As we continue to implement COVID-19 safety precautions at the hospital and HRRMC clinics, telehealth became a natural progression in continuity of care for our patients, while keeping patients, visitors and staff as safe as possible,” said CEO Bob Morasko. “We hope this is a viable option for our community to practice social distancing while also getting the care they need from their medical providers.”

Gergley confirmed that HRRMC will guide patients through the entire process of establishing a telehealth appointment. Patients will need access to a computer or smartphone with video option, internet connection, and the ability to download Zoom conferencing software on their computer or smartphone.

While telehealth services are only available for family medicine at this time, HRRMC plans to expand telehealth services to additional service lines in the coming weeks, according to a HHRMC press release. HRRMC says that it is accepting both new and established patients for telehealth services.

More changes may occur as the virus situation changes. For more information on telehealth services, residents can call the clinics directly or a general online number (Zoom) below:

Hospital:                                                      719-530-2200

Outpatient Pavilion:                                   719-530-2000

Salida Health Center (on Highway 50):  719-530-2022

BVHC:                                                           719-395-9048

Saguache Health Center:                           719-655-2531

Or visit

Ark Valley Voice questions on the hospital’s status regarding equipment supplies, asked in light of concerns expressed by health professionals elsewhere, have not been specifically answered. Those questions pertained to the hospitals supplies of  such things as: respirators, ventilators, masks, gowns, gloves and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees.

Privately, some health workers have expressed concerns over whether the supply chain for such items will be adequate if cases increase exponentially as they have in some areas of the country.

The COVID-19 virus Triage Tent outside the HRRMC Emergency Department.

Local health workers privately expressed similar concerns to AVV, speaking of wearing their masks for multiple days at times and noted that some concerned members of the public have even resorted to stealing items such as masks for themselves.

A Denver emergency room physician was quoted by CBS4 TV as saying a significant shortage of items such as masks, gowns and other PPE equipment has already resulted in rationing. He added that this could be a threat to the health of medical workers and patients, because facilities are not prepared for an anticipated surge of patients over the next few weeks.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis has expressed concern over such shortages within the state. Even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested that bandanas or scarves may have to be used in a pinch, in lieu of medical masks, a suggestion that would appear to offer questionable protection .

Morasko said Thursday he was proud of the work employees have done in the face of the unprecedented crisis.

“HRRMC is working hard to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak and protect the safety of our patients, staff and visitors. We have instituted a number of changes to try to prevent the spread of the virus,” wrote Morasko. “These include limiting visitation, providing curbside and home delivery of prescriptions from our retail pharmacy, and triaging patients with respiratory symptoms in a tent outside of Emergency Department as well as our outlying clinics in Salida and Buena Vista. Today we have also implemented telehealth services for patients seeking care at the Salida Health Center and Buena Vista Health Center, and will establish additional service lines for virtual visits in coming weeks.”

HRRMC  24-Hour Emergency triage tent for emergency medical screenings

HRRMC has set up four triage locations for those experiencing respiratory symptoms which might be the coronavirus known as COVID-19:

  • Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical center – outside the emergency room
  • HRRMC Buena Vista Health Center : 719-395-9048
  • HRRMC Salida Health Center: 719-530-2022
  • Saguache Health Center: 719-655-2531 (vehicle triaging only, Mondays and Wednesdays – when you arrive at the clinic, please call the phone number, and remain in your vehicle. Someone will come out to help you shortly.)

Process for COVID-19 testing

  • First, call Public Health at 719-539-4510. They will conduct a medical screening over the phone to assess whether or not you should be tested for COVID-19.
  • Anyone experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath who wants to be medically screened is asked to park by the HRRMC Emergency Department, remain in their vehicle, and call 719-530-2039. This allows patients and visitors with respiratory symptoms to be seen in a setting that minimizes exposure to the high-risk inpatients and staff inside the hospital.
  • Vehicle Triaging for Respiratory Screening; stay in your car and call the front desk of the location where you are. They will have someone come to your vehicle to do a medical screening, and if appropriate, will either conduct a test in your vehicle, or bring you inside.

(Note: at the moment, there is an Emergency Room fee associated with a tent visit— ask for more details when you arrive.)

Current Visitor Restrictions

The following visitor restrictions are currently in place on the HRRMC hospital campus:

1. Family Birthing Center, Infusion, Dialysis, and Oncology: One symptom-free visitor, who must pass a clinical screening.

2. Emergency Department: No visitors, with the exception of one symptom-free guardian per minor (under the age of 18).

3. ER, ICU and Medical Surgical units: Exceptions made on a case-by-case basis for one symptom-free visitor if it is determined to be best for the patient to have a visitor. The visitor must pass a clinical screening before entering the unit.

4. Elective surgeries: All elective surgeries are postponed until further notice. Urgent and emergent surgeries and emergent pain procedures will continue to be performed. Patients scheduled for elective surgeries will be notified immediately.

5. Rehab appointments: The rehab staff is now rescheduling all non-emergent appointments and assessing all other patient appointments on a case-by-case basis. Patients schedule for elective rehab appointments will be notified by their providers immediately.

6. The Cafe and gift shop are closed to visitors.

7. The Wellness U gym is closed to staff and the public.