Opinion: We are open, ready and here for you

Soniya Fidler
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

When COVID-19 first began to impact our way of life back in early March, there was snow everywhere, and our community and visitors alike were enjoying favorite winter recreation activities.

Now, almost three months later, the trees have bloomed, green grass is being mowed and flower pots have found their way to front steps. The changing seasons give a semblance of normalcy when so much of what we knew to be “normal” has been erased.

Nearly every industry has been impacted by COVID-19. Whether it’s reduced seating at your favorite local restaurant, converting meetings to conference calls, using video chats as you work from home or adopting distance learning to complete the school year, the Steamboat Springs community and the entire Yampa Valley have rallied not only to support each other but to do what is best for our community.

While the health care industry has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, patient care has continued, even though things may look slightly different. At UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, we’ve continued to treat patients in our emergency department, performed urgent and emergent surgeries and have welcomed the Yampa Valley’s newest residents throughout COVID-19. That care has been delivered under the utmost adherence to all infection prevention guidelines to keep our patients, providers and staff safe and healthy.

The staff and providers at YVMC have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of encouragement and support from our community. It’s kept spirits high, and we appreciate every act of generosity.

As we bring more patients into our clinics and the hospital, providing the medical care they need, we reaffirm our commitment to safety. We’ve instituted measures like plexiglass partitions at registration desks, floor decals to encourage proper distancing, navigational signage to promote movement and safety, social distancing in waiting areas and additional hand sanitation stations throughout our facilities.

We ask all patients and visitors to wear their own personal masks to help protect not only themselves, but our caregivers — we wear ours for you, and we ask you to wear one for us.

The health of our community — both that of individuals, families and visitors, as well as our economy — is extremely important. YVMC is focused on reducing any transmission of COVID-19 in the Yampa Valley as our community’s businesses carefully reopen, and one key to this is access to testing.

UCHealth is now able to offer a COVID-19 nasal swab test and highly accurate COVID-19 antibody tests via blood draws to anyone who would like a test. While access to testing was difficult when COVID-19 began, we now are confident not only in testing supplies but also in the results of the FDA-authorized tests we offer.

Another key to safely reopening our community is continuing to follow the precautions we’ve all practiced for some time now including physical distancing, wearing masks and practicing proper hand hygiene. We’ve seen positive results of such actions, and they remain critical pieces of the puzzle.

Finally, I want to encourage everyone to get the medical care you may need. We’ve unfortunately seen patients who have delayed care, making their medical conditions far worse. I understand that some might have concerns about walking into a clinic or hospital at this time, but because of the precautions we’re taking, our locations are actually far safer than most public areas. YVMC’s emergency department remains open 24/7, and our clinics are open with providers and staff ready to care for you.

In the coming months, COVID-19 will continue to affect us all, but our community is strong and will adapt so that we may safely enjoy all the reasons we love the Yampa Valley while continuing to care for each other.

Soniya Fidler is president of UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.

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