The Ruby Valley Search & Rescue team recently set-up their triage tent and trailer system at the Ruby Valley Medical Center for use as a temporary facility to evaluate possible Covid-19 patients. The triage area opens up options for the care of patients with respiratory infections while maintaining a safe environment for clinic patients inside the hospital.
Patients who suspect they have been exposed to the coronavirus or have Covid-19 respiratory symptoms are instructed to call Ruby Valley Medical Center prior to coming to the hospital. If a Covid-19 test or evaluation by a healthcare provider is indicated, the patient will go to the east side of the hospital and wait in their car for a healthcare provider. In certain situations, additional evaluation will be necessary. “Now we have the option of seeing the patients either in the tent or in the decontamination room, adjacent to the ER,” said Dr. Roman Hendrickson, Medical Director at Ruby Valley Medical Center. “Use of the tent or the decontamination room depends on our volume and the weather. If a vehicle has more than one person who might be sick, or the patient has children with them, now we can see them in the tent which has much more space than the decontamination room.” The decontamination room has its own entrance which eliminates the possibility of spreading any virus droplets to the emergency room.
Dr. Hendrickson is pleased that the additional area for seeing respiratory infectious patients works well with the hospital’s safety protocols. “Everyone who comes into the building is screened for temperature elevation. If they have an elevated temperature, they won’t come into the building. They will receive further evaluation in the decontamination room or the tent,” said Hendrickson. Employees are also restricted from entering the hospital with an elevated temperature. “We keep anyone with a temperature totally out of the building. These protocols are in place to ensure that evaluations of respiratory infections will not take place in an area that could pass on the virus,” added Hendrickson.
To further mitigate the possibility of any contamination in public areas of the hospital, everyone is required to wear a simple (disposable) or cloth face mask at the Ruby Valley Medical Center. A simple mask is provided to patients at the entrance unless the patient has brought their own cloth mask. Landon Dybdal, CEO of the Ruby Valley Medical Center, is very grateful for the generous donations of homemade cloth masks from the community. “We’ve recently received a shipment of the disposable, simple masks which should keep us going for a little while with patients. The cloth masks from the community are being used by all our staff, then laundered, autoclaved (steam sterilized), and reused,” said Dybdal. “We were very concerned that we would run short.” Cloth masks and homemade gowns are still needed at the Ruby Valley Medical Center and other healthcare facilities in Southwest Montana. Home-made cloth face masks are also needed by the members of the community for shopping and in public places where social distancing can be difficult to achieve. Donations of fabric and elastic for the sewing volunteers can be dropped off at Walter’s Grocery, 102 S. Main Street in Sheridan.
Currently, Covid-19 cases in Montana are expected to peak April 23-24. Dybdal is concerned about the misinformation he has seen regarding the benefits of social distancing. Because coronavirus spreads so easily, in the absence of social distancing, there would be severe shortages of healthcare providers and staff, ventilators, and other necessary, lifesaving equipment. Dybdal wants to remind the community that social distancing keeps our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, thereby reducing the number of deaths from Covid-19. Social distancing is essential to saving lives in the absence of a vaccine or therapeutic treatment.
The Ruby Valley Medical Center is grateful to the Ruby Valley Search and Rescue team for the loan of the triage tent and the time devoted to setting it up. The triage tent provides practical options in delivering healthcare and facilitates social distancing for caregivers. Patient waiting chairs and an examination table were donated to Ruby Valley Medical Center by the recently closed Trina Clinic in Dillon and these are being used in the tent. The many donations of gowns and face masks are also greatly appreciated and recognized every day by the staff of the Ruby Valley Medical Center.