Telluride Med Ctr: Outdoor Respiratory Clinic Expanded Ahead Of Possible Surge!

The Telluride Regional Medical Center has moved and expanded their “outdoor respiratory clinic” to increase capacity and provide a safer working environment for staff and patients ahead of a potential surge of coronavirus cases. For more information visit tellmed.org/coronavirus.

Outdoor clinic

For over a month now staff from the Telluride Regional Medical Center had been utilizing tents in an alley behind the clinic to see patients with respiratory symptoms in their cars. This week, those tents, along with new larger ones, in partnership with the San Miguel County Department of Public Health, have been relocated by Viking Rentals, to Townsend Ave., in front of the medical center’s primary care entrance.

“The new set up will allow for better flow for possible increased patient traffic and will be more efficient for patients and staff,” said Dr. Christine Mahoney, acting medical director.

Protocol remains the same. “Patients must call ahead to be triaged over the phone and to make arrangements to visit the outdoor respiratory clinic,” said Dr. Mahoney.

The medical center, she cautioned, like organizations throughout the country, still has only limited access to coronavirus testing kits.

“If you’re having COVID-19 symptoms, like fever, cough or shortness of breath, call ahead to be triaged by a nurse. If your symptoms are concerning, like say, shortness of breath or a high fever that isn’t breaking, or if you are in a high risk category, we’ll make a plan to see you in the ‘outdoor respiratory clinic’ to provide a full exam including checking vital signs like oxygen levels, listening to your heart and lungs, etcetera.

“If appropriate, we can test for strep and influenza — which we are still seeing quite a bit of — draw blood if needed, as well as test for COVID-19,” said Dr. Mahoney. “You can expect a full check up with all the attention you’re accustomed to, only you will stay in your car.”

Surge projections from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are changing frequently, according to Dr. Mahoney. “The latest projections are looking slightly less dire but still warn that in the next 2 – 3 weeks our county may see 30 – 40 people a day who need to be evaluated for respiratory illness.”

Within those numbers, Dr. Mahoney estimates “roughly 18 percent may need a higher level of care,” anything from oxygen services at home to hospitalization.

“By allowing patients with respiratory issues to stay in their cars we dramatically reduce our clinic’s exposure to coronavirus, as well as our staff and other patient’s exposure,” said Dr. Mahoney.

The Telluride Regional Medical Center continues to see patients for other non-COVID-19 appointments — many through a telehealth portal. Dr. Mahoney, has stressed that the community should not neglect their regular health care needs or schedules.

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