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Medical facilities prepared to move patients if needed

Dennis Webb

Area medical facilities have been prepared to execute evacuation plans if necessary following the blowup of the Coal Seam Fire this weekend.They’ve also been offered assistance from outlying facilities, should such plans need to be carried out.”All of our neighboring hospitals have been just wonderful about saying, yeah, they would accept our patients,” said Alice Sundeen, spokeswoman at Valley View Hospital.At Glen Valley Care & Rehabilitation Center in Glenwood, the facility is prepared for anything from relocating those with respiratory problems due to smoke, to emptying out the entire center should the fire result in an evacuation order.Dustin Dodson, the facility’s administrator, said an emergency preparedness manual already was ready for such instances.”We’re ready and we have steps and backup plans in place,” said Dodson.Several area health care providers have offered their help to Glen Valley, he said.”Heritage Park in Carbondale has been wonderful volunteering their assistance both with manpower and physical space.”Facilities in Paonia and Grand Junction also have made arrangements to be backup facilities, he said. And Glen Valley has coordinated with Valley View to obtain assistance if needed in dealing with smoke problems or a full-scale evacuation.Meanwhile, residents’ families and Glen Valley’s neighbors have come by with bottled water, deli trays, newspapers and more.”Everybody has just been great,” Dodson said. “We’ve been very fortunate. Everyone has just looked out for us. We owe several people in the community a lot of thanks.”Dodson said Glen Valley has made arrangements with its pharmaceutical supplier to have enough medicine on hand for its residents for two weeks. Medical instructions for each patients are ready to be provided to other facilities.Glen Valley has a van available to transport residents, and has identified the passenger capacity of staff members’ vehicles.Valley View and Heritage Park also have offered manpower and transportation help.Dodson said residents’ families have been naturally concerned since the fire threatened town, but have remained calm.”It’s been held in a realistic context. Family members have been very gracious in calling and offering any assistance that we can benefit from at all,” he said.Sundeen said Valley View took preliminary steps in what is a lengthy evacuation plan. It contacted the hospitals in Aspen, Rifle, Grand Junction and Vail to make arrangements to move patients to those locations if necessary.Also, at the end of every nursing shift, nurses have checked off the number of patients at the hospital and how each could be transported, be it by ambulance or regular vehicle.Valley View also has made arrangements for use of Glenwood Springs Ford vans, just as those vans were used by authorities to provide tours for residents affected by the fire, Sundeen said.She said after the fire blew up and Interstate 70 was closed, some staff members worked double shifts. But as time went on, state highway officials were good about letting employees through after they identified themselves, she said.


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