Guest Editorial: Dr. Rhonda Webb: Leading during a pandemic

By Shari Pierce

Among us is a modest and humble leader working tirelessly to care for our community as we face coronavirus and COVID-19, the effects of which have been unprecedented in most of our lifetimes.

Dr. Rhonda Webb has worked, and continues to work, to coordinate her staff in providing care, acquiring supplies, making adjustments to the patient flow at the hospital and clinic, educating our community, coordinating testing and looking to the future of care for our community for the coronavirus and beyond.

She is tireless in attending meetings to educate attendees about how to best protect ourselves and others by wearing face coverings, washing our hands, practicing social distancing and cleaning areas around us. This lady kindly and patiently explains “droplet protection” and the use and success of that through years in the medical profession. The hundredth time she says this is just as kind and patient as the first time.

Webb has attended town and county meetings encouraging face-covering mandates and has taken the lead in prompting community leaders to come together with a unified message for protecting our town and county. 

Under her guidance and with her support, the staff of the medical center has made changes to the way patients are directed to receive care and attend appointments to provide for the safest care possible for our community. Guidelines are carefully developed to check patients in at the clinic and the hospital, and separate those showing symptoms of this virus from others.

In a phone conversation with Webb, I learned that each day area hospitals post the availability of beds they have for taking patients. Our CEO watches these reports carefully as plans are made to determine where patients from Pagosa Springs Medical Center might be transported, should an urgent case come to the hospital.

Webb and her staff work with mask makers’ coordinator Debby Donavan. In her last email of Aug. 11, Donavan shared that between March and this date, the mask-making group has produced 5,600 masks for the hospital. She also shared that the cost of the masks that the hospital is required to use has gone up from 80 cents to over $3 each. The effort of Webb and her staff in coordinating this sewing project has saved the hospital thousands of dollars and has also provided masks for the safety of patients and staff at the hospital during times when masks were not readily available. The work of this group continues.

But, that wasn’t enough. Webb took it upon herself to make sure that the people sewing masks for the hospital received a personal note of thanks amidst all the other work she is doing.

I am grateful the board of directors of the Upper San Juan Health Service District had the foresight to hire Webb as the CEO for Pagosa Springs Medical Center. Fortunately for our community, the board is looking at extending that contract.

She is often the first to thank others for what they are doing, but this time I thank you, Dr. Rhonda Webb.

And, thank you to all of the health care workers in our community. Be safe.

This story was posted on August 20, 2020.