Training designed to prepare for COVID surge

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Health care professionals practice donning personal protective equipment as part of training at St Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction. The training is intended to enable the hospital to respond to a potential surge in COVID-19 cases as well as other hazardous infections. (Photo courtesy St. Mary’s Medical Center)

St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction has conducted a training program to prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 infections.

It’s a program one official believes could be expanded to assist other hospitals in the region respond to the coronavirus and other outbreaks.

“It’s my vision, and I’m very passionate about this,” said Erin Minnerath, infection prevention manager at St. Mary’s.

The medical center received a $50,000 federal grant awarded through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the training. St. Mary’s is among the Colorado hospitals designated as special pathogens assessment facilities that can safely receive and isolate patients believed to have contracted hazardous infectious diseases.

Minnerath said the grant funded training to quickly expand what’s called the High-risk Infection Team and its response to treating patients with infectious diseases. Members of the team are trained how to properly don and doff personal protective equipment and set up rooms to safely isolate those patients.

Members of the team have trained nurses and other health care providers from various departments to perform the procedures. That in turn expands the capacity of the hospital to identify, isolate and treat patients with COVID-19.

Minnerath said she’s applied for additional funding to further expand the training to include other hospitals and health care facilities in the region. She said she envisions a collaborative effort that could prepare for outbreaks.

While people don’t like to think about the potential for deadly outbreaks, she said it’s essential to prepare for them nonetheless.