Archive for the ‘Emergency response’ Category

Nearly 600 children got TLC for their favorite stuffed animals, and about 2,000 people got a first-hand look at the new Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center on Saturday. Visitors were excited to see the new center, which is conveniently located  in the North Gate Village shopping center at 71st Avenue and 10th Street near King Soopers Marketplace.

In addition to a 12-room emergency department and outpatient surgery center, the new facility will also offer 24/7 laboratory and imaging services, so patients can get lab work or imaging such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs done at any time that’s convenient for them.

The new center opens Nov. 26.

As for the 600 kids who brought their stuffed friends to the Teddy Bear Hospital event, here’s a look at the fun they had.

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University of Colorado Health’s new Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center is taking shape in west Greeley. The center, located in the North Gate Village shopping center at 71st Avenue and 10th Street near King Soopers Marketplace, will open Nov. 26.

The community is invited to a free open house Nov. 17 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., which will include a Teddy Bear Hospital where kids can get TLC for their favorite dolls and stuffed animals. The event has been a big hit with families since starting a few years ago at Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.

Food and drinks will be served at the open house, and people who attend can register to win an iPad.






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Crews continue to put final touches on University of Colorado Health‘s new free-standing emergency department and surgery center in west Greeley.

The Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center will be located east of King Soopers Marketplace on the southeast corner of 71st Avenue and 10th Street in Greeley.

The Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center will open Nov. 26 in the King Soopers Marketplace at the southeast corner of 71st Avenue and 10th Street in Greeley.

When open, the 22,000-square-foot center will include an emergency department, surgery center, lab and imaging.

The public will get an opportunity to tour the new facility at a free Nov. 17 open house. Watch the blog for more details on the open house.

The emergency and surgery center will employ 96 people making a total annual salary of $4.6 million. Since most UCHealth employees – and their families — in the newly created jobs will spend their money in Greeley to purchase groceries, entertainment, household goods and big-ticket items like cars and homes, officials at the city of Greeley expect the project to put more money into local pocketbooks, which in turn will encourage more spending throughout the local economy.

That ripple effect could add $9.2 million to the community, says Bruce Biggi, the city of Greeley’s economic development manager.

–Kevin Darst, director of marketing and communications

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University of Colorado Health’s new free-standing emergency department and surgery center in west Greeley will boost the local economy by $9.2 million, according to the city of Greeley.

The Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center will be located east of King Soopers Marketplace on the southeast corner of 71st Avenue and 10th Street in Greeley.

The medical center is scheduled to open in November at the corner of 71st Avenue and 10th Street, and when it does it will employ 96 people making a total annual salary of $4.6 million. Since most UCHealth employees – and their families — in the newly created jobs will spend their money in Greeley to purchase groceries, entertainment, household goods and big-ticket items like cars and homes, those new sources of revenue will put more money into local pocketbooks, which in turn will encourage more spending throughout the local economy.

That ripple effect could add $9.2 million for the community, says Bruce Biggi, the city of Greeley’s economic development manager, who used the Federal Reserve’s fiscal impact tools to analyze the direct economic impact of the wages from the medical center’s new jobs and the indirect impact of such things as the possible creation of other new jobs needed to serve the medical center’s business and additional sales and property taxes.

“We are truly pleased to have the new project in our community,” Biggi said.

The 22,000-square-foot emergency and surgery center will open in a shopping center that includes King Soopers, making it one of the busier areas in west Greeley.

Located in west Greeley, the emergency department and surgery center is scheduled to open in November. The skeleton of the building and interior framing is complete. Crews are currently hard at work putting drywall in place, laying brick, installing windows and developing the mechanical infrastructure.

Greeley’s assistant city manager said the new medical center will balance other commercial buildings going up in west Greeley.

“The city encourages strong building and site design, especially along its key entryways. The new facility will complement this community goal and be an attractive addition to this important Greeley travel corridor,” said Becky Safarik, Greeley’s assistant city manager.

–Kevin Darst, director of marketing and communications

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Let me summarize. This is a blog about way back when house calls were made by doctors in horse-drawn carriages. About congress and healthcare reform. About paramedics today. About keeping people healthy in their homes. And about the future…

Health care in the coming years will look considerably different than it does today due to healthcare reform legislation passed in March 2010 by congress.

One major improvement will be the reshaping of the current model where hospitals are set up to keep patients coming in for service. In the future, the model will shift to the goal of keeping people out of hospitals by helping them maintain their health. That’ll be a huge improvement in the way of approaching health care!

Members of our Community Paramedic Program: Lisa Beard (left), Julie Scott, Sharon Lowry (right), and Julie Bower (in front).

Poudre Valley Health System is already moving in that direction. We have a free Nurse Is In program where each month our community health nurses go to three northern Colorado locations to help people monitor blood pressure, answer medical questions and offer basic health information. Our Aspen Club sponsors many free or low-cost preventive programs for older adults, while our Healthy Kids Club focuses on the health of youth. We also have many other community-based programs and public classes on wellness topics.

One of our efforts that recently received public attention is the Community Paramedic Program. The Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo., published a lengthy feature article about the free program Feb. 10 and followed up with a Feb. 12 editorial. In addition, Style Magazine in Fort Collins will soon publish an article about the program.

The program is among the first wave of changes in the way paramedics and emergency medical technicians throughout the nation conduct their work.

Traditionally, paramedics and EMT focus on responding to emergencies, but, since there typically aren’t medical emergencies going on constantly, they sometimes have periods of available time.

Much to their credit, our emergency responders decided to use these periods to develop the Community Paramedic Program to offer basic health screenings to people in their own homes.

The paramedics and EMTs provide in-home blood pressure checks and flu vaccinations. They also do risk assessments designed to help keep people from falling in their homes. In addition, they assist people who have questions about medications.

While all of these are great benefits, for some people the social interaction with the emergency responders is just as important. In some cases, people are home-bound and something as simple as a visitor’s smile and kinds words can help with health. The social interaction also gives emergency responders the opportunity to assess if a person’s mood or mental state have changed.

“We do what we can to help people remain healthy in their homes where they are more comfortable,” said Ted Beckman, a paramedic shift supervisor who is the program’s coordinator. “Preventive programs similar to ours are the future of health care throughout the United States.”

The Community Paramedic Program isn’t meant to replace home-visits by nurses or therapists or a visit to a doctor’s office or the need to call 911. Rather, the program is an excellent option that can save people from unnecessarily leaving their homes.

Our emergency responders launched this program in the fall of 2010. They estimate the program could have prevented up to 18,000 emergency room visits to Poudre Valley Hospital and the Medical Center of the Rockies in 2011. This would have been a significant, positive impact on the two ERs that treated a total of 52,000 patients last year.

Four emergency responders conduct our Community Paramedic Program. They will receive additional training this month in preparation of providing 24-hour coverage. They do the program in conjunction with the Aspen Club, which helps them identify persons who may want to participate. (Community members interested in receiving home visits should contact the Aspen Club, 495-8560.)

When I think about our program, thoughts of the old days to come to mind—back to when doctors in horse-drawn buggies rolled up to the porch steps and the doctor climbed down, black medical bag in hand, to do a home visit.

Those days are long-gone, of course. But some important vestiges remain.

Horse-drawn buggies have been replaced by ambulances that come visiting without emergency lights and sirens going—but the enthusiasm to care for people in their own homes remains.


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During the weekend, the Greeley Tribune published a package of staff-written news articles and guest editorials that focused on health care in Greeley and Weld County. I was asked to write a guest editorial that looked at the future of Poudre Valley Health System’s involvement there.

Simply put, the future is exciting and full of additional healthcare benefits and options for the people we serve.

PVHS will continue to provide high-quality care that is easily accessible for Greeley and Weld County residents. Our commitment to high quality and easy access is also the same for the other people we serve in the large region that PVHS covers in northern Colorado, Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska.

I have to say, though, that it is critically important to look at the recent past and what’s happening now in the Greeley medical scene to be aware of what may happen in the future.

Because my guest editorial had the usual 600-word limit for guest editorials in the Tribune, I was unable to delve into the historical perspective that I believe is critical. In my editorial I asked readers to come to my blog to learn more of the details about all that is happening in Weld County.

During the last 10 or 12 years, I have received phone calls from dozens of physicians who practice in different medical specialties in Greeley. They all had a similar concern, a major one.

They believed they were being disenfranchised by the Greeley medical establishment—specifically by Banner Health, which manages North Colorado Medical Center and has corporate headquarters in Phoenix—and this, they told me, resulted in their careers, their lives and their families being turned upside down. Many physicians revealed to me that they felt like they were being driven out of the community.

For several years I referred these physicians back to Greeley medical leaders hoping they would promote a solution.

During this same period, Poudre Valley Health System focused on finding collaborative ways to work with local physicians in Fort Collins and Loveland to provide high-quality patient care in our region.

Our collaborative efforts resulted in Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins, being named in 2000 as the first Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence between Los Angeles and Minnesota. Today PVH is one of only 17 hospitals to have received the designation three times in a row. Our Medical Center of the Rockies, which opened in 2007 in Loveland, received the designation nearly the moment the hospital was eligible.

Additionally, during this time PVHS started the first American College of Surgeons-verified level II trauma center in northern Colorado; began the first robotic surgery program in our region; and developed the region’s busiest heart program.

PVHS also became the first recipient and remains the only two-time recipient of the Colorado’s highest quality award, the Peak Performance Award presented by the Colorado Performance Excellence Program. In mid-January, PVHS became the only Colorado-owned and -operated health system to be selected as one of the nation’s top 15 health systems.

The most notable honor was when the President of the United States announced that Poudre Valley Health System was selected to receive the nation’s highest quality award, the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. PVHS is one of only 15 healthcare organizations ever to receive that honor.

While PVHS was distinguishing itself locally, regionally and nationally, the issue of physician disenfranchisement in Greeley continued.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. I encourage you to find any physician who has practiced in Greeley for more than a decade and ask if my assessment is accurate. I believe the chances are excellent that you’ll receive an answer similar to what I wrote above.

A few years ago the physicians with the Greeley Medical Clinic, the largest and oldest multi-specialty medical group in northern Colorado, realized they faced irresolvable issues with Banner Health. They began an exhaustive and objective search for a partner which they believe would work with them to put their patients first.

So that’s how GMC and PVHS linked up. We had fruitful talks and discovered mutual hopes and dreams and goals for high quality care for Greeley and Weld County residents.

In a comparatively short period of time, it became clear that the visions of GMC and PVHS were identical: Patients must come first and the care they receive must be extremely high quality … and the best way to achieve this is to maintain local control over healthcare decisions.

After many in-depth discussions and planning sessions, GMC physicians and PVHS leaders agreed to an affiliation.

This decision led to PVHS expanding its world-class care to Greeley and Weld County. In partnership with the outstanding physicians and staff of GMC in Greeley, we have continued to expand by developing new services, opening medical facilities in Windsor, bringing the Aspen Club and Healthy Kids Club into Greeley, and employing 1,100 Greeley and Weld County residents.

While PVHS has continued to offer more healthcare services to Greeley and Weld County, some vocal and very uninformed pundits have suggested that PVHS began serving the city and county solely to “steal away” or “cherry-pick” patients from Greeley.

Some pundits have said this even as we grow and expand services in Greeley.

Our most recent addition—a full service emergency room and one-day surgery center—will be completed in west Greeley by the fall of this year. We are excited that this project will enhance care and accessibility, and create even more healthcare options for Greeley residents without their having to travel very far from their homes.

The new medical facility is an example of the exact reason why GMC chose to affiliate with PVHS. Their decision was not about market share or budgets or filling patient beds. Instead, it had everything to do with GMC physicians wanting to be decision-making members of an organization that works closely with physicians to accomplish mutual goals for providing high-quality care for their patients.

During these last two successful years since the GMC-PVHS affiliation was formed, the same ill-informed pundits have continued to criticize PVHS by incorrectly portraying us an outsider bent on stealing away patients.

Such an accusation does a great disservice to 79 years of service to Greeley and Weld Country by the Greeley Medical Clinic. If GMC is not Greeley-born and -bred…who is, then?

The process that resulted in GMC stepping away from Banner Health seems to have played itself out all over again last spring, this time with an even more abrupt change.

This occurred when the long-experienced and very distinguished emergency physician group in Greeley was suddenly and surprisingly dismissed from practicing at North Colorado Medical Center. The service these highly skilled physicians provided was nationally ranked and medically respected.

So, once again, a significant number of physicians felt disenfranchised from work and life in Greeley. I heard from many of them.

To continue living in or near Greeley and to remain true to their commitment to serve local patients, many of these physicians elected to join Emergency Physicians of the Rockies, an independent physician group in Northern Colorado. These highly qualified physicians will staff the emergency services part of our center under construction in west Greeley, once again providing the same outstanding emergency services that have distinguished them for years. And they will provide this service while continuing to live and work and raise their children in Greeley…just as GMC physicians have done for generations.

Because the medical leadership of Greeley’s air ambulance was also imbedded in this group of emergency physicians, we elected to ask them to continue providing their outstanding service by creating our own helicopter program. For many years PVHS used the air ambulance service at NCMC because it provided a high quality and trusted service. Our service will now continue with those same medical leaders who have lived and worked in the Greeley community.

PVHS has moved ahead on the air ambulance program because we see a great need and opportunity for regionalized services. Our program, which will start this spring, will feature a helicopter specially designed to safely transfer patients out of such high-altitude areas as Rocky Mountain National Park.

Collaboration with regional providers is the type of relationship that we have always tried to develop and foster. Last year I approached NCMC leaders with the hope that we could also find a way to work together and avoid duplication on the many medical services needed in Greeley, Weld County and the rest of northern Colorado.

Unfortunately, I was told that they were unwilling to meet if the local Greeley physicians were involved. Of course, that type of attitude appears to me to be a driver behind what has happened to physicians in Greeley. Just so you know, we—PVHS—will always work first with physicians in trying to create healthcare solutions in the region.

To return to the focus of the Tribune’s news package … What is the future of health care in Greeley and Weld County?

The answer:

PVHS is there now…and GMC has been there for longer than most of us have been alive. We will continue to work closely with local physicians who have cared for generations of Weld County and Greeley patients. Care will be provided in Greeley and, for Windsor-area patients, in Windsor.

We will provide high quality care. We will make sure patients come first.

We will be there today, tomorrow and far beyond.


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(Dear Reader: The following guest blog was written by Grace Taylor, chief strategy officer for Poudre Valley Health System. It offers information on a new healthcare service that we’re developing. –Rulon)

One of the successful strategic tactics that we have used at Poudre Valley Health System is to make access to health care easy for community members.

In 2007, we opened Medical Center of the Rockies to increase healthcare access for Loveland area residents and enhance rapid access to trauma care.

In the last several years, we’ve worked with physicians in Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland, and Windsor to make access easier. Most notably, we’ve worked closely with physicians at the Greely Medical Clinic to help in their efforts to continue providing the ongoing easy access to high quality of care offered at the clinic since 1933.

We’ve done this because local and national research has demonstrated time and again that the preference of patients is to have easy access to their care providers.

With this strategy in mind and with the support of local physicians, we announced December 2 that we will build an emergency and same-day surgery center in North Gate Village in west Greeley.

Greeley experienced more than a 20.7-percent population growth during the last decade, much of which occurred in west Greeley. Where there is growth, there is a greater demand for convenient, quality medical services.

The new freestanding outpatient facility will bring choice and increase access to health care in Weld County and will likely reduce the amount of time patients have to wait to receive emergency medical care.

The 24-hour emergency care center will be staffed with board-certified emergency room physicians. The team of physicians and nurses will be trained and equipped to handle about any emergency except severe trauma cases, which will be sent to a hospital where trauma services are offered.

The emergency care center will have 10 examination rooms, two pediatric exam rooms, a resuscitation room, and laboratory. A diagnostic imaging area will include X-ray, ultrasound, CT, and MRI.

The surgery center will include three preparatory areas, two operating rooms, three recovery rooms, and an observation room. Same day-surgery will be offered for select general and elective surgeries in the areas of endoscopy, gastroenterology, orthopedics, and urology, as well as outpatient surgery. In addition, the center will offer IV therapy services.

The development of the 22,000-square-foot facility is another step forward in the care that PVHS offers to Weld County and northern Colorado. The facility, which is not yet named, is scheduled to open in June.

To learn more information about the facility and what will be offered there, please click here to go the press announcement on our website, pvhs.org.


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Some businesses sink huge amounts of money into research to identify the needs of their customers. Knowing such  information about your customers is one of the keys to success.

We do research in the business of health, too, to identify what’s on the horizon for what our patients need.

Sometimes, though, the needs of customers are so obvious that little research is required. All you have to do is listen and watch what’s going on around you to know what’s needed.

Such was the case when we created BERT early this year. The acronym stands for Bicycle Emergency Response Team. BERT is operated through our emergency medical services department, and it is the only bicycle EMS team in northern Colorado.

Three BERT riders: John Betz (left), EMT; Stephanie Caille, EMT reserve; and Rob Collett, paramedic

We have 17 EMS responders available to ride bicycles during large outdoor events that are commonly held in our area. The responders are paramedics and emergency medical technicians on our staff, and EMTs in our EMS reserve corps.

The bikes are equipped with medical equipment and supplies necessary for providing emergency care to injured event participants until an ambulance can arrive. BERT riders are equipped with radios that keep them in close contact with ambulances and EMS dispatch.

The need for BERT flowed out of the many local events that have large crowds or may cover wide ranges of territory—times where access may be difficult for our ambulances. These are events like the hugely crowded 4th of July celebration in the Fort Collins City Park and the popular Colorado Marathon that goes from the Poudre Canyon, through the rural countryside and into Fort Collins.

BERT riders patrolled more than a dozen events during the spring and summer. In the coming year, the number of events may likely increase to about two dozen.

BERT riders offer another important service, too.

Because the land in and around Fort Collins is generally flat, many residents ride bicycles for enjoyment and daily transportation to work, shopping and other destinations. BERT riders work in conjunction with the Bicycle Pedestrian Education Coalition, Safe Kids Larimer County and Healthier Communities Coalition of Larimer County to provide safety classes, bicycle rodeos and a helmet usage program.

The educational component is important because there has been a huge increase in bicycle traffic in our area in the last few years. Bicycle accidents seem to be on the increase, too.

BERT is funded by Poudre Valley Health System, and local companies and agencies have begun to realize the service’s importance. New Belgium Brewing Company, for example, recently became a supporter by donating funds to purchase more bicycles and emergency medical equipment.

I talk about BERT, of course, to emphasize the importance of listening to what your customers need—and to say that it doesn’t always take a lot of formal research and large expenditures.

But, too, I want to thank New Belgium for its support and, most importantly, help spread the word about this new program—our BERT—that makes a meaningful difference in our community.


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One topic I always enjoy writing about is the public recognition that our staff members receive. Honors and awards are affirmations of their efforts, dedication and success.

So it’s with great pride that I point out a tremendous honor recently bestowed upon Dr. Ann Yanagi, an emergency room physician since 1988. She also practices in our Occupational Health Services and Wound Healing Clinic.

Dr. Yanagi received the 2011 Northern Colorado Women of Distinction Award in Medical Careers from the Northern Colorado Business Report. She was one of 11 women honored for their contributions to the northern Colorado region.

A photo of me (left) with Dr. Yanagi (second from left) holding a plaque presented by Kevin Unger (far right), Poudre Valley Hospital president and CEO, and a Women of Distinction pin presented by Lorna Reeves, a previous recipient of the award.

Among her many achievements over the years, Dr. Yanagi was a leader in the development of the regional Sexual Assault Nurses Examiner (SANE) program. Established in 1999, the program provides specially trained nurses that conduct forensic exams for people who have been sexually assaulted.

Dr. Yanagi is the current chair of the Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation and has been active on the board of the Health District of Northern Larimer County and in such community activities as the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra. She is the founder of the Health and Wellness Orchestra that performs at the Medical Center of the Rockies and Poudre Valley Hospital for patients and their families, as well as community members and PVHS employees. Many of the orchestra members are like Dr. Yanagi—a healthcare specialist by vocation, a musician by avocation.

Lorna Reeves, one of the first class of Women of Distinction honorees when NCBR established the award in 2009, says the program is an important way to recognize women in the region and also encourage them to stretch beyond their limits. Lorna, senior vice president and branch manager for Cache Bank & Trust, Fort Collins, says the award helps women in our region learn about role models who are excellent examples of community spirit and professionalism.

I agree. The values of commitment to profession and community expressed through the Women of Distinction honor reflect Dr. Yanagi as an individual, physician and community leader.

I’ve known Dr. Yanagi for years, and she is a humble, gentle, gracious, compassionate lady with a true love of life and caring for others. She is one of our region’s leading role models for other women, as well as for men.

I want to thank Northern Colorado Business Report for establishing the annual Women of Distinction program and I offer a heartfelt congratulation to Dr. Yanagi.


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We had a large amount of rain in northern Colorado this last week, and a forecast for occasional wet weather continues into the weekend.

When we get a lot of rain like this, it’s easy to think back to 1997 when one of the worst floods in the recorded history of Fort Collins was caused by a mega-rainstorm. During one long, dangerous night, a business area near Colorado State University was wiped out. Homes were flooded. Lives were lost.

What paramedics, emergency medical technicians and other emergency responders did that night was extremely brave.

The storm became a triple threat: flood, train derailment and fire.

Seven crews of paramedics, EMTs and EMT reserves from Poudre Valley Hopsital’s ambulance services responded to the disaster along with firefighters and police.

Some members of our emergency response crews risked their lives by wading into deep flooding waters to retrieve victims. Nearby there were partly flooded buildings on fire. Phone and electrical lines were falling and sparking in the dark of night.  Natural gas bubbled up through the flood waters from broken pipelines.

One of our paramedics, Greg Rhoads, now a shift supervisor for our ambulance service, summed it up at the time by saying: “It was chaos.”

Many of our employees were suddenly homeless as the waters destroyed their dwellings, vehicles, clothing, all that they owned. The same was true for many city residents.

PVHS employees responded with donations of money, clothing, taking in families of dislocated employees and other city residents. Other community members responded in the same fashion. In all of this tragedy, our community came together with compassion and enthusiasm for helping others.

National Emergency Medical Response Week goes through May 21. If you see a paramedic or EMT—or a firefighter or police officer—I ask that you take a moment and extend your thanks. They’re out there—sometimes risking their lives—for the rest of us.


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