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A 67-year-old woman diagnosed with COVID-19 died April 17 at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC). This death brings the county coronavirus death total to six.

The patient was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had multiple comorbidities (additional conditions co-occurring with a primary condition). She was admitted to HRRMC the evening of Monday, April 13 for conditions unrelated to COVID-19, a press release stated.
Another Columbine Manor resident reportedly died from the COVID-19 disease the previous night. One COVID-19 positive patient is still being treated at HRRMC.

Columbine Manor Care Center. Photo by Dan Smith

“We are saddened to report another death likely due to COVID-19 complications, and we continue to treat our patients with diligence and have the utmost commitment to their care, no matter their current medical status,” said HRRMC CEO Bob Morasko.

Chaffee County Public Health has confirmed that Chaffee County currently has 57 positive COVID-19 cases. This number includes presumptive positives which have not officially been tested, according to Allison Gergley, Marketing and Public Relations Director at HRRMC.

Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County Public Health Director said in a Friday April 17 briefing that there were 8,675 cases reported in Colorado, with 1,698 people hospitalized and a total of 374 deaths. Outbreaks at state long-term non-hospital care facilities, such as Columbine Manor have increased from 83 to 93 facilities, Carlstrom said. Of the 57 cases in the county, 42 have been identified as residents or staff members at Columbine Manor.  In her update, Carlstrom also reported 41 of the 57 known cases have recovered.

While an apparent gag order appears to be in place at Columbine Manor, questions about the infection rate addressed to a spokesperson at parent company Life Care Centers of America by Ark Valley Voice also have not been answered.

Dr. Erika Gelgand, HRRMC’s Infectious Control Medical Director reported at the briefing about hospital activities.  She said critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff was delivered a short time before the briefing, by plane at the Salida Airport, including needed masks, gowns and gloves.

Both Dr. Gelgand and County Board chairman Greg Felt addressed the concept of reopening the county from the current strict limitations at the hospital and easing of stay-at-home directives for the county and statewide.

Gelgand said any reopening would be slow and cautious for such services as surgery, and pointed out that such changes would depend on the ability to do relatively quick turnaround testing for the virus. Current tests take up to 72 hours to get results back, she said. She also expressed appreciation to the community-wide support for hospital staff, including 400 masks made in the community and distributed to non-critical staff.  Residents have also made gestures of kindness such as lunches provided for staff by individuals and organizations including High Country Bank.

Felt said any relaxing of current restrictions in the county would be done in a gradual, progressive process of incremental steps, and that planners were just beginning to discuss how to talk about such an process for the county overall and its three main municipalities. He also complimented the public for adhering to prescribed rules while the pandemic is still going on.

HRRMC, Public Health, Emergency Management and community organizations continue to coordinate efforts to keep the county as informed as possible on all updates.

For additional information on COVID-19 as it pertains to HRRMC, please visit hrrmc.com or call 719-530-2217.