Q&A: Roosevelt General Hospital on COVID-19
March 29, 2020
The News spoke Tuesday afternoon with representatives of Roosevelt General Hospital regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are currently no Roosevelt County positive tests, with 191 positive tests reported statewide as Saturday morning.
The hospital is working on telehealth procedures for the coming weeks and has established a line at the hospital for COVID-19 questions. Residents can call 575-356-9292 8 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, with calls sought from anybody who believes they may be symptomatic or has come into contact with someone who is.
Question from The News: How many COVID-19 tests has RGH administered? How many have come back negative and how many don't have results yet?
LaDawna Brooks, chief of diagnostics and therapeutics: We’re testing according to the Department of Health guidelines. All of the tests have come back negative. We still have four pending tests (Editor’s note: A followup conversation Saturday updated the total to six pending tests, with all other tests still coming back negative). We are seeing increased turnaround time with the Department of Health. Some of the draws in Roswell and Albuquerque tied them up.
Does RGH have any patients in the hospital because they're showing symptoms of COVID-19 ... If so, how many, and have those patients been tested?
Brooks: We don’t have any right now. In fact, the volume in our hospital, emergency room and clinic is low compared to what is normally is. We really feel most people are staying at home, isolating and managing their symptoms on their own.
What is the hospital’s maximum capacity for sample testing per day?
Brooks: I don’t know if we can define it by day. We had reached out to the Department of Health to work on a screening/testing site. We’re holding off until we’re considered more of a clustered area.
How many RGH patients have been instructed by medical staff to self-quarantine? And why are they given those instructions? And were they tested? Why or why not?
Kaye Green, CEO of RGH: I think at this point, if they’re low risk and they’re not showing the symptoms, out of an abundance of caution we’re asking those people to stay home and stay away from public areas.
How many beds are available in general at the facility, and what can that be expanded to with external sites?
Brooks: There are 20 beds. To be honest, we are only now in the planning stages of even considering external sites and what they might be in this community. We don’t have much of a capacity at Roosevelt General Hospital to expand beyond our hospital ward. If push came to shove, we could go to 24, but we haven’t been that full. What I can tell you we have done is increased our capability to care for people who are on ventilators or need isolation. We’ve blocked off our inpatient ward to create four additional isolation rooms. We’ve been focused on trying to meet what we think may be the need in the future with our existing base.
Are any specific external sites being considered?
Brooks: We haven’t. We’ve talked about Greyhound Arena, we’ve talked about some vacant space here. If we expanded outside of our hospital, we wouldn’t have staff to support that. We would look for federal and state resources to take the lead on something like that.
You just mentioned ventilators. How many do you have?
Brooks: Ten. We had six previously, and at the onset we bought two immediately. Two more have just arrived (Editor’s note: The hospital as of Saturday six due to its distributor diverting supplies to areas with more urgent needs, but RGH is still working to obtain more).
A reader wrote us following a visit to the RGH clinic in Portales Friday. The reader was disappointed at what he called a lackadaisical approach to contagion, noting nobody was wearing masks or gloves except for the person who took his blood. Staff said there were no reported cases, so there was no need to wear protective gear. Given the 2-14 day period where carriers are asymptomatic, are these practices safe? Has RGH implemented new policies?
Kaye Green, RGH CEO: What I would say is we’re following all precautions due to the CDC guidelines, and the patient may have misunderstood what’s needed in a healthcare setting.
Is staff wearing protective gear?
Green: What I would say is protective gear is required by staff based on what the clinical situation is. If a patient comes in who’s suspected with COVID, our staff are required to put on all protective personal equipment. We’ve actually re-educated all of our staff recently about PPE to keep them safe, as well as other patients.