This Unprecedented Fight Strengthens our Unwavering Commitment
April 21, 2020
The emergence of COVID-19 has changed our world in a matter of just a few short weeks. We face an historic event, the likes of which we may never again see in our lifetimes. For all of us in the mountain community it gives us profound reason to be concerned … about ourselves, our loved ones, and our extended families.
As the largest health care provider in the Denver foothills, Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice feels the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. It may have changed how we do business, and it may have transformed how we deliver care, but it has certainly NOT changed the quality of our care. At a time of acute community need, Mount Evans team of 60 highly-trained and licensed clinicians continue to provide our communities with the highest possible quality of hospice, palliative care and home health care services.
Preparing to Fight an Invisible Enemy
From our nation’s top infectious disease experts to health systems across the country, coronavirus caught our nation off guard. New details about the virus, how it spreads, and how best to contain it, are released on a daily basis. It’s both an invisible and rapidly evolving health threat.
At Mount Evans, we are in better shape than many of our counterparts across the country. We owe this to our forward-looking emergency planning that took place long before the impact of COVID-19 was truly understood.
Mount Evans’ leadership team – which includes experience at the highest level of organizations like the American Red Cross and The Denver Hospice – spent weeks preparing our “Mitigation, Preparedness and Response Plan” to guide our agency in our response to COVID-19. It is a document I hoped we would never have to use, but with the rapid acceleration of community spread within Colorado, that Emergency Plan has been a saving grace, giving us a roadmap to quickly mobilize and institute changes well in advance of others.
At the same time, we knew it would be paramount that our care providers have protection, and that N95 masks would be in short supply. Our team has been working around the clock, seven days a week to secure Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). To date, we’ve spent well over $30,000 ordering N95 masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, gowns, face shields, eye protection and gloves. Although that may sound like a lot, it’s only enough to get us started, and without proper safeguards we could deplete our inventory. We will continue to be aggressive in our pursuit of PPE. We owe it to our courageous nurses, nurse assistants, physical/occupational/speech therapists, social workers and chaplain who provide essential health services, and to the patients who trust us with us their health.
Closing Our Building but Not Our Hearts
At Mount Evans we consider ourselves a family, not an organization. Our first inclination is to love. We have a team of 60 clinicians as well as 20 office staff who are used to touching people both physically and emotionally. It made the first protocol in our Emergency Plan, perhaps the most difficult. We had to practice social distancing. This meant we closed the doors of our office building. It meant cancelling our in-person support groups and telling our beloved volunteers we needed them to stay safe by staying away.
Whether it is the mountain way, the Mount Evans way, or a little bit of both, we have found new ways to care for our community. We completely revamped how we deliver care to reduce the possible spread of infection. This is particularly necessary because the patients we serve are especially vulnerable if they contract the virus. Regrettably, the in-home health care they require is the very thing that could put them at risk. We had to find a way to love our patients while also protecting them. Here are some of the steps we are taking:
- Every care provider on our team is taking their own temperature every day and self-monitoring for symptoms.
- We conduct a telephone screening prior to every patient visit to determine if there are symptoms or circumstances that could suggest COVID risk factors.
- We reduced the number of in-person visits and increased the number of telehealth and telephonic visits.
- We wear PPE to every patient visit. This includes an N95 mask, gloves, protective eyewear, a face shield and a gown.
- We make sure all of our patients have a 30-day supply of their prescriptions on hand.
Protecting the Mount Evans Family
I’m incredibly proud of the Mount Evans family. During this uncertain and unnerving time, every member of our staff has stepped up in extraordinary ways to support each other and the mountain community. As the rest of the world practices social distancing, they bravely go out into the world and put the needs of their mountain patients first and foremost. Despite the uncertainty, they continue to be the best part of someone’s worst day.
Simply put, our clinicians are the backbone of Mount Evans. We have made a commitment to them to do everything possible to keep them whole, both physically and financially. We have put new policies in place to maintain their income and benefits at pre-COVID levels both through the new Family First Coronavirus Response Act and also through unanimously board-approved policies that go far beyond the new Federal laws.
Although no one can predict how the next few weeks and months will unfold, I can say with certainty that Mount Evans will be here for the community with love and support. I am humbled to support an extraordinary team that acts as a beacon of hope through difficult times.
President & CEO