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Coronavirus in Moffat County: Public Health reports 7th positive case

For the first time in roughly five weeks, Moffat County Public Health is reporting a new case of COVID-19 in the county.

Moffat County Public Health reported a new confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the county Monday afternoon, bringing the county’s total to seven. This is the lone active case within the county.

This individual is a female in her 20s who resides in Moffat County. The Moffat County Public Health officials will be in contact with this individual to begin contact tracing, and isolation orders are pending.

Public Health officials will not release any information specific to an individual’s name, location or travel history. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 have a right to privacy. COVID-19 is not spread by location. It is spread primarily through close contact.

As states across the county begin to open back up, Moffat County Public Health reminds you of the Five Commitments to Containment to keep Moffat County safe and healthy:

  • Maintain 6 feet of social distance
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover your face in public
  • Stay home if you are at risk or sick
  • Seek testing immediately if you have symptoms If you want to be seen by your healthcare provider:

If you have a primary care provider, call for guidance first rather than going directly into the clinic. Do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or the emergency department unannounced.

Your doctor’s office will assess your illness on the phone and provide information or guidance for you, household members, and other close contacts.

Testing for COVID-19 is not a routine test. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and risk for the disease based on guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Since many of the illnesses are mild, we expect most COVID-19 patients will be isolated in their own home to rest and recover. If possible, sleep in a bedroom and use a bathroom that is not used by other household members.

There is no antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids will likely be helpful for recovery. Only the most critically ill will be hospitalized.

If you live or work in Moffat County and you’re not already registered to receive emergency alerts, visit www.moffatcountysheriff.com and click the Code Red icon near the bottom of the homepage.

Northwest Colorado Health: Simple ways for older adults to stay active and connected at home

For older adults and those at higher risk of COVID-19, staying active at home and engaging with your family, friends and community can help combat social isolation and loneliness.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for older adults to make an extra effort to engage in social and physical activities,” said Meg Tully, Aging Services Coordinator for Northwest Colorado Health. “This means more telephone time and perhaps learning how to use the computer to see friends and family and to join exercise classes online. These activities help our minds and bodies to remain active and vibrant, facilitating our sense of purpose and enhancing a positive perspective. This, too, shall pass, and we can come out of this stronger than before if we make good choices,” she said.

At-Home Exercises for Older Adults

Exercise will help boost your immune system, increase strength and balance to reduce risk of falls, and improve your quality of life. Try these simple exercises:

  • Build leg and arm strength. Using the arms of a chair as support, press down on the chair arms while pressing heels into the ground and lift yourself up out of the chair, then sit back down. Start with repetitions of five and work up to ten times, every day.
  • Sit in a chair with a straight back, inhale deeply as you raise your arms upward, and then slowly exhale as you lower your arms. This helps with lung capacity and keeps the brain oxygenated for clearer thinking. Do this several times a day.
  • Go outside for some fresh air. Walk around your yard for 10 or 15 minutes or do light yardwork.  

Keep Your Mind Active

  • Keep your brain fresh with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or reading a good book. Try to challenge yourself by counting backwards from 50, by sixes.  
  • Start a journal or practice memoir writing. Memoir writing sounds intimidating, but the best way to start recording your stories is to journal regularly. Start with a different prompt or question each day. Write about your childhood best friend; describe a cherished place from your life (a home, vacation spot, school, etc.) or a favorite family tradition.
  • Check out the free library resources – e-books, audiobooks and more – or start a virtual book club with friends and family. 

Stay Connected

  • Check-in with friends and family regularly. Whether it’s through video chats, phone calls or letters, most of us have more time now to catch up.
  • Find online communities with people who share your passions or interests. There are many free classes and videos available online. Whether it’s cooking, painting, or gardening many organizations are sharing free resources and content to try at home.
  • Follow the Senior Social Center of Craig’s Facebook page for exercise videos, inspiration and other creative ideas: facebook.com/seniorsocialcenter.

Now is also a great time for community members of all ages to support our older adults. Try some of these activities in your neighborhood or with loved ones who are sheltering in place to connect from a safe distance:

  • Walk your dog in front of the windows and practice new tricks.
  • Hang homemade bird feeders, fun decorations, or leave messages with chalk outside.
  • Have a parade outside the house – dance, play instruments or just march around.

The Northwest Colorado Aging Services Coalition was recently formed to focus on priority issues for older adults in our area, including Housing, Transportation, Social Connection and Communication/Information. If you are interested in joining to help discover specific solutions to these problems, please contact Meg Tully at mtully@northwestcoloradohealth.org or 970-846-4040.

Jaclyn McDonald is Marketing Coordinator at Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at jmcdonald@northwestcoloradohealth.org or 970-871-7642.

A Letter to Our Community: Clarifying the role of the Board of Public Health

Dear Citizens of Moffat County:

As you well know, the Coronavirus known as “COVID-19” has wreaked havoc on people’s lives all over the world, both with regard to life and health, but also with regard to being able to make a living and buy needed supplies. The Moffat County Board of Health, which is the same as the Board of County Commissioners of Moffat County, has an essential role to play in protecting public health in Moffat County because that is a task given to them pursuant to laws of the State of Colorado.

In order to provide background information, the Moffat County Board of Health will ask and answer key questions.  If you would like additional information, please feel free to contact a member of the Board.

What is Public Health?

“Public health” (defined in section 25-1-502(5) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.)) means the prevention of injury, disease, and premature mortality; the promotion of health in the community; and the response to public and environmental health needs and emergencies and is accomplished through the provision of public health services.

Practically, public health includes things such as tobacco education, immunizations, encouraging exercise and a healthy diet, and preventing the transmission of contagious diseases through public health orders. 

Who provides public health?

By state law, each county has to establish or be part of a local public health agency organized under a local board of health with a public health director and other staff necessary (including a physician) to provide public health services. In Colorado, public health is a shared responsibility among state and local public health agencies. (Section 25-1-501, C.R.S.)

On April 7, 2009, the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners adopted Moffat County Resolution 2009-35, establishing the Moffat County Public Health Agency and designating members of the Board of County Commissioners as the Board of Health, which is permitted in a county with a population of less than one hundred thousand people as of 2008. The terms of the members of the county board of health coincides with their terms as commissioners, and they assume all the duties of appointed county boards.

The State of Colorado gives grants to the local public health agencies, including the Moffat County Public Health Agency, to provide support for public health services as established by the State Board of Health. Their efforts include assessing, maintaining, and improving local capacity to provide services as established by the State Board of Health.

Pursuant to C.R.S. §§§ 25-1-506, 25-1-508, 25-1-509, and other applicable authorities, the Moffat County Board of Health and the Moffat County Public Health Director have powers and duties to develop and promote the public policies needed to secure the conditions necessary for a healthy community. In the event of a public health emergency, the Moffat County Public Health Agency issues orders and adopts rules consistent with the laws and rules of the State of Colorado.

The Moffat County Public Health Agency has the duty to investigate and control the causes of epidemic or communicable diseases and conditions affecting public health and to establish, maintain, and enforce isolation and quarantine, and in pursuance thereof, and for this purpose only, to exercise physical control over property and over the persons of the people within the jurisdiction of the agency as the agency may find necessary for the protection of the public health.

The Moffat County Public Health Agency obtained a variance from portions of Executive Directive D20 044 and Public Health Order 20-28 on May 14, 2020, so that Retail, Gyms, Movie Theaters, and Places of Worship are permitted to operate in Moffat County, provided they comply with certain conditions.  On May 14, 2020, the Moffat County Public Health Agency submitted another request for a variance so that restaurants in Moffat County can be re-opened as well. 

It is important for folks to understand that the Moffat County Public Health Agency is required to follow Colorado Statutes, and it is not a health care provider.   

You can access more information about the Moffat County Board of Health, including meeting times, minutes, and a link to the Board of Public Health Mitigation Plan Dropbox at:  https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/moffatcounty/board-public-health.

Your County Commissioners,

Ray Beck, Don Cook, and Donald Broom

Masks causing problems for those wearing hearing aids, local business owner says

For those with hearing aids, wearing a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been costly, both from a financial and health standpoint, according to Cindy Hoest from the Hearing Aid Office in Craig.

Hoest says she’s had a number of patients come into the office in Craig needing to fix or replace current hearing aids due to them falling out when taking off masks. In some cases, Hoest says patients are also choosing to not wear a mask so as to not lose their hearing aids.

“It’s a tough decision for those needing to wear hearing aids right now,” Hoest said. “If you are wearing behind-the-ear hearing aids and you have a mask on and then take the mask off, it can become tangled and cause a sort of slingshot affect, where it yanks the hearing aid out of the ear and throw it to the ground.”

Hearing aids can cost anywhere from $600 to $3400, Hoest added, so it’s an expensive issue for many.

The mask can cause discomfort when worn with behind-the-ear hearing aids. After all, unless you have a large space between your scalp and ear, there’s limited real estate to work with. Anyone who wears both hearing aids and eyeglasses knows all about that.

For Hoest, she’s trying to educate those wearing behind-the-ear hearing aids with masks so that they can avoid paying a large chunk of change to get them repaired.

“It’s almost like a PSA,” Hoest said. “I’m just trying to make people more aware and to be careful right now because we’re seeing an uptick in people needing hearing aids replaced because they came off with masks.”

Hoest added that a clip of sorts (like used with sunglasses) could help save their hearing aids when taking masks on and off.

Courtesy Photo / The Hearing Aid Center

“I just want people to be more mindful when they’re taking their masks off,” Hoest said. “This clip would allow you to pin the string to your collar or shirt so that if you did pull your hearing aid out accidentally when taking your mask off, it wouldn’t fall to the ground.”

Elective surgeries, grants helping Memorial Regional Health maintain ‘business as usual’ during trying time for rural hospitals

A recent wave of federal funding, along with an important decision regarding elective surgeries has allowed Memorial Regional Health to maintain business as usual during a time in which rural hospitals across the state are struggling significantly financially, leading to some closing its doors.

In fact, the state’s rural hospitals saw a 268 percent decrease in profit in March compared to last year, according to an analysis from the Colorado Hospital Association. That’s lead directly to a number rural hospitals shutting their doors.

Prior to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the state of Colorado, it was well known where Memorial Regional Health stood financially. The closing of certain service lines, and the termination of popular doctors, along with the dwindling numbers of days cash on hand has been well documented over the last few months regarding one of the largest employer in Moffat County.

However, due to those budget cuts and the decision to allow elective surgeries to still happen locally, MRH was able to sustain financially until the latest rounds of federal coronavirus assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Paycheck Protection Plan rolled in, totaling more than $4 million.

“Without those cuts in 2019, the elective surgeries allowed locally and the federal funding, we wouldn’t be here right now,” MRH Chief Executive Officer Andy Daniels said. “We were fortunate in the fact that we were allowed to continue elective surgeries locally, whereas Steamboat could not Meeker chose not to do so. That allowed us to have some revenue coming in, especially during a time in which our in-patient volume at the clinics and ER were down 40 to 60 percent.

“Adding in the federal help, we were able to keep employees employed locally with no layoffs,” Daniels added. “We were able to send people home to work and still pay them. For us, that was huge.”

When the federal Paycheck Protection Program was announced, critical access hospitals such as MRH (access to 25 beds or less) were not able to apply, but thanks to some help from elected officials such as Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, Congressman Scott Tipton and Gov. Jared Polis, MRH was able to gain access to an exemption to apply for the program and receive approval.

“We fought hard to get exempted into the program, which put us ahead of later legislation allowing rural hospitals to apply for that grant,” Daniels said. “They [Senators Gardner and Bennet, Congressman Tipton, and Gov. Polis] were absolutely engaged in MRH’s ability to continue to do elective surgeries safely, getting us the PPP funds and HHS help.” The PPP money is being used to keep everyone whole on their paychecks through the middle of June, Daniels added.

Before the most recent funding was announced, the Colorado Rural Health Center released a report that stated 18 of the 42 rural Colorado hospitals were operating at a loss in 2019. Memorial Regional Health was one of the 18 prior to the budget cuts.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, some hospitals are reporting revenue losses greater than 50 percent at the same time expenses increased to purchase additional personal protective equipment and other supplies in response to the pandemic. According to Daniels, MRH was ahead of the wave of PPE and stocked up, allowing the hospital to tap into the PPE reserve, keeping costs down.

Now, with federal funding behind them and a slow increase in business as things get a little better locally, Daniels says he sees a positive outlook for the rural hospital for the next three months.

After that though, Daniels says it’s hard to project that far ahead without knowing what’s coming.

“We’re in good shape right now,” Daniels said. “But again, it’s really hard to say what things will look like later in the year with COVID. If we wouldn’t have made some of the decisions we made and pushed for some funding, we wouldn’t be here. That’s no different from some of the other rural hospitals across the country right now.”

Moffat County receives approval from Governor’s office, CDPHE to loosen restrictions locally

After more than two weeks spent anxiously awaiting word from the Governor’s office and the CDPHE regarding approval or denial of a phased reopening plan, Moffat County’s Board of Health received a “yes” answer Thursday afternoon, albeit with some stipulations from the state capitol.

The variance request from the Moffat County Board Of Health involved four specific functions: Retail, Gyms, Movie Theaters and Places of Worship.

CDPHE Director Jill Ryan approved the variance request while adding some specific criteria for Moffat County to follow in all four functions, adding a surveillance request to the original request, stating, “The Suppression Plan needs to include a weekly case count number that the Moffat County Health Department can manage for case investigations, contact tracing, and outbreak response to ensure timeliness goals for isolation and contact tracing while ensuring ability to respond to outbreaks that may occur. ​These triggers should be incorporated into the county’s decision making concerning when Moffat would tighten its restrictions.”

RETAIL

According to Ryan’s approval, all employees at retail shops are required to wear face coverings or masks covering the nose at mouth at all times while working.

FITNESS

Ryan added a number of requirements for local gyms to open, according to the approval letter from the CDPHE.

According to Ryan’s approval, all gyms may open as long as the following requirements are met:

  • Employees must be screened for symptoms each day before beginning work, and those who are symptomatic must be excluded from the facility and required to remain in isolation for 10 days, per CDC guidance.
  • Employees must wear face coverings or masks covering the nose and mouth at all times while working.
  • Customers must be asked whether they have COVID-19 symptoms at the door and excluded from the facility if symptomatic.
  • Customers should be encouraged to wear a face covering both when entering the facility and while in the facility, unless a face covering inhibits the participants ability to participate in the fitness activity.
  • Given the many unknowns regarding how the SARS CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 is spread, use of equipment in the gym must be limited to no closer than every other machine so that participants are not exercising right next to each other and smaller exercise rooms with poor ventilation should be discouraged from use.
  • Employees must clean and disinfect shared equipment between customer uses.
  • Any classes held must be restricted to 4 or fewer individuals and cleaning and disinfection of the classroom must occur between uses.
  • No equipment may be shared between customers unless they are household contacts.

MOVIE THEATERS

One area of the variance request Moffat County differed from others was the requested opening of the popular movie theater in town. Ryan’s office approved the opening of West Twin Cinema, as long as the theater meets the following conditions:

  • Employees must be screened for symptoms each day before beginning work, and those who are symptomatic must be excluded from the facility and required to remain in isolation for 10 days, per CDC guidance
  • Employees must wear face coverings or masks covering the nose and mouth at all times while working.
  • Customers should be encouraged to wear face coverings into and inside the movie theater.
  • Customers must be asked whether they have COVID-19 symptoms at the door and excluded from the facility if symptomatic.
  • The facility must track the number of individuals in a theater to create appropriate distancing as follows:
    • Capacity shall be limited by the number of seats per theater Customers must be separated by a minimum of at least three seats to the side, and must alternate every other row.
    • Individuals residing in the same household will be considered one customer.
    • Six feet distance must be maintained between customers
  • The theater must be cleaned and disinfected between movie showings.
  • Mark concession lines for a minimum of six feet distancing
  • Offer touchless payment options wherever possible.

PLACES OF WORSHIP

While some places of worship locally have been allowed to operate under the guidance of the Moffat County Public Health Department, Ryan’s approval from the state letter further identified what criteria the places of worship must meet to allow occupants in person at a 30 percent capacity of building code occupancy.

  • Participants must be asked whether they have COVID-19 symptoms at the door and excluded from the place of worship if symptomatic.
  • Participants should be encouraged to wear a face covering both when entering and while present in the house of worship, except when specific participation in the service requires removal, such as to receive communion.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between individuals who are not of the same household.
  • Disallow gatherings in the lobby or church vestibule at all times.
  • Implement touchless offerings and communion or sacrament options as much as possible.
  • Employees must be screened for symptoms each day before beginning work, and those who are symptomatic must be excluded from the place of worship and required to remain in isolation for 10 days, per CDC guidance.
  • Employees must wear face coverings or masks covering the nose and mouth at all times while working.
  • Require cleaning and disinfection after any use of the worship space.

“This variance approval is granted based on the facts and circumstances today as you have described them in your request,” Ryan said in her letter to Moffat County’s Board of Health. “However, should circumstances change such that, for example, surges in COVID-19 transmission occurs, cases exceed the capacity for Moffat County to fully implement all effective disease control strategies as described in your request, or if resources or COVID-19 prevalence statewide in our opinion requires a different approach, CDPHE reserves the right to modify or rescind this variance approval. This approval is in effect until the final expiration of PHO 20-28, which currently is set to expire on May 26, 2020 but may be extended.”

The next step for the Moffat County Board of Health is to come up with guidelines for Phase II of its plan to reopen Moffat County. The Board of Public Health, as well as City of Craig’s City Councilors have discussed requesting allowing a 30 percent capacity at local restaurants in its next phase.

Gov. Polis has indicated that, on May 25, the state will decide if restaurants can begin reopening and at what level.

A letter to our community: The Board of Public Health’s approach to best practices

The Moffat County Board of Health is committed to limiting the risks and protecting each other from the COVID-19 virus.   The citizens of Moffat County have a rich history of working together for our community while valuing freedom of choice.   Even though there is much we do not know about the COVID-19 virus and how to deal with it, we do want to provide our citizens with the available information and help them navigate the state public health orders in order to safely transition to a more normal economy and activity level.  We want community education and personal responsibility to carry us to a safe and economically viable future, rather than an enforcement regime.

On March 26, 2020 the Governor of Colorado issued a statewide Stay – at – Home Order, encouraging all people in Colorado to stay home except for essential needs.  That order was in effect through 11:59 P.M. on April 11, 2020, and was extended after that time.  That Order was intended to minimize contact between people as much as possible to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  It effectively limits the opportunities for people to come in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.  These actions are necessary to slow the spread of disease, reduce the number of people who become severely ill or die, and protect our health care system.

On April 27 Governor Polis announced the Safer at Home executive order. Coloradans should continue staying home as much as possible. The order also directs vulnerable populations, including seniors, to continue staying home, only leaving when absolutely necessary. 

“For the vast majority of us, this new phase won’t look much different than the last,” Polis said in an emailed statement Monday afternoon. “This new safer at home phase is meant to establish a level of social distancing that can be sustained for a longer period of time. It will allow us to gradually relax some of these restrictions on our economy and our society while protecting our health care system and our most vulnerable residents.”

The Governor’s press release said the “Safer at Home” order outlines the options local governments will have, as well. City and county governments can implement the guidelines of “Safer at Home” to match the State. They can go further than the State, including but not limited to stay-at-home orders or additional protective measures.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) outlines the options available to local governments as things move forward:

  • Local governments can implement the guidelines of Safer-at-Home to match the State.
  • Local governments can go farther than the State, including but not limited to extended stay-at-home orders or additional protective measures.
  • Local governments can relax guidelines more than the State. To do so, they will need to demonstrate proof of 14 consecutive days of a decline in COVID-19 infections in the County. They also must submit an application to CDPHE that includes a written COVID-19 suppression plan approved by the appropriate local public health authority, all hospitals within the jurisdiction, elected leadership and approved by the State.

Safer at Home fast facts:

  • Essential and non-essential business employees are required to wear a mask according to the Governor’s Executive Orders
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face
  • Maintain social distancing

On April 28 Kari Ladrow, (Public Health Director) Dr. Brian Harrington (Public Health Medical Officer) and Andy Daniels (Memorial Regional Health-CEO) and the Moffat County Board of Health (County Commissioners) signed and sent the County’s phase-one suppression plan and letter to CDPHE (Jill Ryan) and to Governor Polis. The plan requested variances for retail businesses, gyms, places of worship and theaters. On May 4 Moffat County received an email from the state indicating we needed to fill out an application to the variance request portal, which was immediately done. The letter and plan are now awaiting approval from CDPHE and the Governor’s office.

The Moffat County Board of Heath (BOH) wants to get our economy going safely and as quickly as possible. The BOH is statutorily responsible for the health and welfare of the citizens of Moffat County. We are trying to find that balance of not wanting to be too restrictive and also being conscious of the virus and the impacts it could have if we don’t all do our part to maintain social distancing. The Commissioners strongly encourage and recommend that each and every one take personal responsibility and adhere to the state’s executive orders. It is incumbent on all of us to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.  Practice social distancing, and wear a mask when you are in a public or in close contact with others outside of your immediate family group. We are all in this together and we will come out on the other side much stronger for it.

If you have a mitigation plan for your business, organization, or activity please submit it to the Dropbox link (https://www.dropbox.com/request/2mjgJGtdwZCCTsVKcR9y) on the County Public Health webpage. Also include a good contact number and email address. Your plan will be reviewed by the Moffat County Public Health Department, which will then bring their recommendations to the commissioners at a Board of Health meeting.  Through education, an emphasis on personal responsibility, and assistance from our Public Health Department, we hope to make local decisions for local citizens and avoid unnecessary oversight by state government.  For more information, or if you have questions, on how you can keep Moffat County safe from COVID 19 and return our economy, go to https://covid19moffatcounty.godaddysites.com/

As soon as we hear from the State about our phase one plan, we will certainly inform the public.  In the meantime, stay healthy and stay safe through this pandemic.

Respectfully,

Moffat County Board of Public Health

Three nurses at Memorial Regional Health nominated for prestigious Nightingale Award

Thanks to their standout work in the medical field, three Memorial Regional Health nurses earned Nightingale Award nominations.

Noreen Kearney Beckett MSN, RN; David Higgins RN, CEN, TCRN; and Annette Saylor ASN, RN, CRNFA, CNOR all earned nominations for the prestigious Nightingale Award. Beckett will head to the state level to compete for one of the six awards handed out by region.

The Nightingale Awards event was founded in 1985 to honor nurses who best exemplify the philosophy and practice of Florence Nightingale, a 19th century nursing pioneer, who epitomized the art of helping people toward their optimal health.

Registered nurses throughout the state are nominated in the fall of each year by solicitation from seven regions throughout the state (Central, Southeast, Southwest, San Luis Valley, Western, Centennial, Colorado Springs).  Each region hosts a local event for nominees in their area where six finalists (or Luminaries) are recognized.  Luminaries are then sent to the State Selection Committee for consideration for receipt of a Nightingale Award.  Six Nightingale Award Winners (state level) will be selected.

The Luminaries (regional level) and Nightingale Award winners (state level) will be from one of each of the following six categories/areas of recognition:

Category I: Nurses in Clinical Practice

  • Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Innovation

Category II:  Administrators, Educators, Researchers, and Non-Traditional Practice Roles

  • Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Innovation

While the Nightingale Awards ceremony was canceled due to the novel coronavirus, the local nurses deserve the recognition for their hard work in the medical field.

NOREEN BECKETT

Beckett was nominated for the Nurse Administrator, Educator, Researcher, and/or nontraditional nurse practice – advocacy category.

Beckett is described as an advocate in nursing to the highest degree.  In addition to her work at Memorial Regional Health, Beckett is active in the community by leading the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program for Moffat County and is an active participant in the Moffat County Open Heart Advocates advocacy program, a free and confidential service for victims of crime, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Courtesy Photo

Additionally, her nursing experience and heart for the community led her to take a role in advocacy for teens.  Moffat County has the seventh-highest rate of teen pregnancy in Colorado.  Therefore, an inter-agency group was formed to assess and implement programs to make a difference.  Beckett leveraged her knowledge, leadership and community rapport to successfully launch the “Reducing the Risk” program.  Despite initial setbacks, Noreen was able to creatively recruit students to participate in the program during their lunch hour.  A group of 21 freshman signed up to attend.

As the 16-week course progressed, it was clear that the students were retaining what they learned and were more open about discussing topics around sex.  They learned to have an appreciation for their bodies and health, how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, and how to access health care resources in the community.  Beckett has made a palpable impression on the lives of these young people.

DAVID HIGGINS

Higgins was nominated for the Nurse in Clinical Practice – Leadership category.

With his 24 years of experience, versatility, and work ethic, Higgins is known as an exemplary of his organization’s values among staff and patients alike.  He has succeeded in a myriad of roles, including interim manager and manager of the Emergency Department. 

Courtesy Photo

Higgins assumed the implicit leadership position for the Emergency Department staff at MRH during the rollout of the EPIC EMR in mid-2019, which was to improve staff coordination, billing procedures, and patient outcomes. 

While no switch of that magnitude can be seamless, Higgins guided the emergency team with unity, thus fostering a collective appreciation of how a consolidated EMR system can benefit all emergency and trauma patients. 

In a time of great uncertainty for frontier and rural America’s medical industry, MRH’s emergency department is excelling.  Patient outcomes continue to meet or exceed expectations due to Higgins’ leadership, according to MRH leadership, which has proven instrumental in furthering MRH’s emergency department team through such a challenging transition. 

His development of processes and workflows have influenced the organization’s ability to avoid system breakdowns, thus improving patient safety.

ANNETTE SAYLOR

Saylor was nominated in the Nurse as Administrator, Educator, Researcher, and/or nontraditional nurse practice – leadership category.

Saylor has 25 years of nurse management experience, and extensive background in Electronic Medical Records, having published several articles in Outpatient Surgery Magazine, national conference speaking engagements, and receiving a leadership award on surgical information systems.

Craig Press File

The teams at MRH received support and direction during the adoption of a new electronic medical record transition in 2019.  Under Saylor’s leadership, MRH transitioned to EPIC aligning patient records. 

The transition to EPIC let MRH consolidate its different EMR systems for different services to ultimately improve patient outcomes.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the leadership and dedication that these nurses have for MRH,” said Amy Peck, Chief Nursing Officer at MRH. “They truly make MRH a better place.”

Dinosaur National Monument to begin increasing access to recreational areas

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Dinosaur National Monument is increasing recreational access, The National Park Service announced Monday.

The National Park Service is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis, according to a press release from the agency.

Starting Wednesday, May 13 Dinosaur National Monument will reopen access to all monument roads and trails. Restroom facilities will remain limited in some areas of the monument and access to drinking water will not be available at this time. Visitors should plan on being self-sufficient, according to the press release.

With public health in mind, the following facilities and operations remain closed:

  • All monument visitor centers and the Quarry Exhibit Hall.
  • All monument campgrounds.
  • All overnight backcountry travel.
  • All river operations.

For the Colorado portion of the monument, the current state guidance directs that outdoor recreation must be within one’s community and/or no further than 10 miles from residence.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount,” the NPS said in the press release. “At Dinosaur National Monument, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.”

While certain areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited at this time. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders including the practice of social distancing, avoid crowding, wearing masks, if appropriate, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities, according to the press release.

“The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases,” the NPS said. “We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.”

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus

Chloramine conversion process scheduled to begin May 11

Following a number of delays, the monochloramine conversion process within the city’s water department is scheduled to officially start on Monday, May 11 at 10 a.m.

According to a press release from the City of Craig Water & Wastewater Department Director Mark Sollenberger, the city’s water department has resolved a number of issues and is ready to get the project, previously scheduled to start on March 31, underway.

“After numerous weeks of working on the primary disinfection portion of the treatment plant upgrade, our engineers, staff, and contractors have finally resolved many of the issues preventing the original March 3 start date for the chloramine conversion process,” Sollenberger said in the press release. “Be assured that we are now ready to proceed and that the entire conversion process of the water plant, and roughly 80 miles of water distribution system, will still take approximately 3 weeks to be fully completed.”

Sollenberger added that the city will continue to flush fire hydrants in the distribution system throughout the entire conversion process to help move chloraminated water around the entire water system and support normal system maintenance.

“The public should please note that fire hydrant flushing can cause discolored water or pressure fluctuations at your home. If you encounter these problems, they should clear up quickly if you run your water faucets throughout the house for a short period of time. We apologize for this inconvenience,” Sollenberger said.

The controversial monochloramine project to add monochloramines to the current use of chlorine for water disinfection has the city’s water department monitoring water quality now, and moving forward, Sollenberger added.

“Please be assured that throughout the chloramine conversion process, and long afterwards, the City Water Department staff will be monitoring the water quality in the water distribution system to make sure it always remains safe and is of the highest quality we can deliver to our customers,” Sollenberger said.