CRMC President and CEO says hospital is “feeling the impact” of COVID-19 hospitalizations

One of many CRMC Emergency Room windows painted encouraging the community to stay strong.
One of many CRMC Emergency Room windows painted encouraging the community to stay strong.(Will Thomas)
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 6:38 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to be on the rise across Wyoming. Cheyenne Regional Medical Center’s President and CEO, Tim Thornell, said just like other hospitals across the state, CRMC is feeling the impact.

“Last week we reached an all time high of 60 COVID positive patients in the hospital, and when we look at capacity really we look at space, supplies and staff. Space we have enough beds to accommodate patients, we have enough supplies right now as well, we’re doing pretty well with PPE,” said Thornell.

Thornell said where they are really struggling is with staff, many of whom are getting sick.

“We have upwards of 70 staff who are out at this point and time, a little more than half of whom are clinical staff, so that’s really where our challenge is right now,” said Thornell.

Though staffing is a challenge right now, the hospital is getting some help.

“We have some help from health and human services, they brought in a team for 14 days to help us, and then the Wyoming National Guard has brought in a support team to help us for the next 30 days, so that’s really helping alleviate some of our staffing concerns immediately,” said Thornell.

When it comes to space in the hospital, Thornell said it was just weeks ago where they only needed half a unit (12 beds) to accommodate COVID-19 patients. CRMC now has two full floors (48 beds) and half the Intensive Care Unit dedicated to those in need. Thornell said as of Monday morning, CRMC currently has 52 COVID positive patients in the hospital, eight patients are in the ICU and one patient is on a ventilator. Thornell said it’s important to remember how serious the virus is.

“One: it’s real, two: it’s really having a significant impact on us here locally. It’s not something happening somewhere else in the country or the world, it’s happening in Wyoming and it’s happening in Cheyenne. If you get admitted to the hospital for COVID versus getting admitted to the hospital for flu, five times more likely to not leave the hospital, five times more deadly than the flu,” said Thornell.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, Thornell said they are worried about post holiday spikes, because that means the hospital might not have relief until sometime in January. He said what the community can do right now, is do their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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