'Panic is our worst enemy,' Sky Ridge official says, as hospital braces for 'surge'

Sky Ridge Medical Center prepares for the worst


Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree reports it has plenty of supplies to handle the ever-worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the Denver metro area and throughout the country, but it is preparing for the worst.

“You feel like the soldier in the castle wall where you have your arrows and stuff ready and you're waiting for the invading army to show up,” said Chief Medical Officer Jason Kelly. “We haven't seen a huge number of COVID patients yet, and so we're kind of waiting for the surge.”

The Tri-County Health Department reported nine Lone Tree residents and 51 people in total in Douglas County were being treated for COVID-19, as of March 26.

Kelly said Sky Ridge is well stocked on supplies like masks and respirators but is accepting donations of medical supplies from the public anyway. Sky Ridge uses N95 respirators, a specific type of mask that blocks at least 95% of small test particles, according to the Food and Drug Administration. N95 masks filter the air.

The hospital is also accepting donations for surgical masks, surgical gowns and face shields. Surgical masks, which are commonly seen worn by the public, are not as secure to the face and can only block droplets if a person sneezes or coughs.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado State Emergency Operations began shipping supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile March 23. CDPHE estimates one full day of statewide operations requires roughly 50,000 N95 masks, 115,000 surgical masks, 21,000 surgical gowns; 21,000 face shields; and 84 coveralls.

Kelly said Sky Ridge is focused on maintaining its labor force through the crisis.

“Without staff, you can't run a hospital,” Kelly said.

The hospital is looking into things like providing child care for employees with kids who must stay at home.

Sky Ridge is part of the HealthONE health care system and Kelly said HealthONE has plenty of blood. Kelly is concerned blood supply may drop in about a month due to a declining number of donors. 

The hospital will not accept any food donations at this time, Kelly said. To show appreciation for the doctors and nurses, Kelly suggested reaching out to them on an individual basis to thank them.

“It's the small things that you do every day that are the important things,” Kelly said. “It's heartbreaking to think health care workers get shunned because people are worried they have a higher probability of being infected. Reaching out and thanking those folks for the hard work every day on an individual level really means a lot. Everybody in health care is working pretty hard right now so that kind of support really makes it feel worthwhile to those folks.”

Kelly said the best thing people can do is mind social distancing guidelines and the hospital's altered visitor policies, which include no children under 12, one visitor at a time and no one showing cold/flu symptoms are allowed to visit.

“This is definitely a serious situation, but right now we have things reasonably under control,” Kelly said. “To some degree, panic is our worst enemy. Be calm, we're going to get through this.”


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