Campbell County Health Board of Trustees conducted their regular monthly meeting by phone Thursday evening in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The board’s overall message was that CCH and Campbell County Memorial Hospital stand prepared to receive an influx of patients with COVID-19.
Extensive discussion and planning are behind the hospital’s efforts to address staffing and resources, as well as operational processes, one trustee said, during the two-hour phone conversation which permitted members of the media and public to listen in.
CCH Cardiologist and Chief of Staff Dr. Nicholas Stamato and CCH Chief Nursing Officer Misty Robertson both spoke, affirming the boards’ sentiments of preparedness, adding CCH’s medical staff are taking all the necessary steps to anticipate possible outcomes and be ready. Among these include limiting clinic operations to prevent exposure and moving increasingly toward telehealth visits to reduce number of patients in hospital and keep as many providers out as possible.
Dr. Stamato, who appeared in a YouTube video that posted earlier this week forecasting that nearly 10,000 Campbell County residents would become infected by the virus in the coming weeks and said that hundreds may die, has been working closely with Robertson to implement a nursing task force to assist the board in developing those plans, policies and procedures to prepare for possible COVID-19 patients.
Both Dr. Stamato and Robertson spent several minutes last night addressing CCH’s testing criteria for symptomatic patients.
As County 17 previously reported, the CCH respiratory screening process is a two-step procedure asking those with respiratory symptoms to contact their local healthcare providers or CCH for a phone screening prior to participating in a drive-thru screening in an effort to limit face-to-face contact and mitigate the virus’ spread.
CCH screening and testing protocols meet the CDC’s criteria for COVID-19 testing, CCH Chief Operating Officer Colleen Heeter assured.
“People who don’t meet critical criteria are quarantined at home,” she said.
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There was some discussion about the testing process beyond test criteria with Heeter noting that specific testing swabs are used and then transported via FedEx shipments to the state lab in Cheyenne, where lab technicians are working to manage anywhere from 200-500 tests per day. COVID-19 tests are shipped once daily from CCH to Cheyenne, she said, and take only five hours for the lab to test. However, due to the number of tests being processed, it takes the lab at least three-to-five days to turnover each test and deliver results.
CCH did send one test to the Mayo Clinic to see if the nonprofit’s turnaround was faster, she said. Whether that test had been sent to one of the Mayo Clinic’s main Arizona, Florida or Minnesota campuses, or another smaller facility within their national health system, was not disclosed. The duration of Mayo’s test turnaround time was also not disclosed.
Heeter added that CCH is expecting additional testing swabs and reagent, the substance mixture used for chemical analysis of the COVID-19 test swabs from BioFire, a diagnostics company based in Salt Lake City, within the next week. Further confirming the Governor’s statement Wednesday that the state would be receiving more tests, the Wyoming Department of Health said that around 2,600 more tests are currently being distributed to counties around the state.
“Once received, we can expand our testing and alleviate community concerns but isolation is still best way to flatten the curve,” Heeter said.
The board also heard from members of the CCH COVID-19 task force about their ideas for tapping into local resources like Gillette College, for example, to include potentially using the college’s nursing simulator for patient overflow and looking into the Gillette College Area 59 makerspace’s ability to make 3D printed masks.
Additionally, the board approved a $10 million line of credit at last night’s meeting.
“We have four months of cash on hand,” CCH Chief Financial Officer Mary Lou Tate said, after suggesting the $10 million credit line as “a last resort.”