FORT COLLINS, Colorado (CBS4) – With many Colorado hospitals close to or at full capacity, healthcare workers need more help. A UCHealth hospital in northern Colorado is thankful this Thanksgiving for enlisting the help of military medical professionals.
“This is a scenario in which I never thought I would find myself as an administrator of a hospital, I would ask for help from the Ministry of Defense and I would be so grateful if they were there to help us” said Ryan Rohman, COO of UCHealth. Powder Valley Hospital.
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Rohman says a team of 20 men and women from the Department of Defense health services have been working at his hospital since Monday. He says it’s a welcome relief.
âWe are always at full capacity, or overcapacity, in our hospitals, we are still not providing the levels of care to the patient populations in our hospitals that we would like to have who need it,â Rohman said. “There is a whole other population in the community who are still in pain, still having further diagnoses and in need of care, and we need to prioritize the care of COVID patients right now, and push that back.”
He says about 95% of COVID-19 ICU patients at Poudre Valley Hospital are unvaccinated – a statistic he says is concerning.
âA year ago we were very focused on the vaccine rollout, and we saw that as a great light at the end of the tunnel, very optimistic that this pandemic would be behind us, and it is not, we we take care of it. almost unprecedented numbers in our hospital via UCHealth and across the state of Colorado, âRohman said. âIt has been difficult for our staff to deal with this pandemic for 20 months now, I would say the light at the end of the tunnel is a bit dimmer than it was in the past. “
Department of Defense teams are coordinated by FEMA and are deployed to Colorado through a request from Governor Jared Polis. Teams are also visiting hospitals in other states across the country.
At UCHealth Poudre Valley, the team plans to stay as long as needed.
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“We will work as many hours as necessary,” said US Air Force 1st Lt. Anthony Albina, an intensive care nurse.
Albina says it was easy to fit in with the Poudre Valley staff. The team arrived Monday morning and Wednesday, patients have been assigned to them.
“There were a lot of smiles when we first arrived, a lot of ‘thank you for being here’ and we immediately said: ‘thank you for having us, it’s an honor to be here’ , he recalled about his first day.
The nurses at Poudre Valley are grateful for their help.
Megan Tschacher, nurse in charge of the Poudre Valley intensive care unit, says nurses are on the edge right now, due to the amount of work required to care for COVID-19 patients in intensive care. She says the military team really helped take the burden off.
âThey can take some of that weight off our shoulders, and we can kind of breathe a little bit,â she said.
For Albina, it’s a burden he is happy to take care of.
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âThe solace is knowing that we are here to support something that is bigger than us, to support something that is a vital need for America,â said Albina.