Three ER patients transferred to Mercy PSMC continues to grow capacity


Staff Writer

Correction to article

The relayed fact that Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) is currently a trauma level 5 facility published in the Thursday, Jan. 30 article “Three ER patients transferred to Mercy, PSMC continues to grow capacity” was incorrect. 

In fact, PSMC does not currently have a trauma level designation.  As stated in the article, PSMC is currently working toward a trauma level 4 designation and staff and board hope to achieve this designation in April of this year. 

Three out of a total of 33 emergency room (ER) patients were transferred last week from Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) to the Mercy Regional Medical Center (Mercy) in Durango.

According to Claire Bradshaw in marketing and development at PSMC, one patient was transferred so they could receive a higher level of care, one was transferred to receive services not provided at PSMC and the third was transfered due to patient safety concerns in the inpatient unit. The third patient required one-to-one care that the ER nursing staff at PSMC was unable to provide.

The patient transferred due to safety concerns was successfully admitted to Mercy and received appropriate care at that facility. Safety concerns for this patient specifically arose as two other inpatients at PSMC were acutely ill on Jan. 20. ER staff was working hard to meet the needs of those patients, making them unavailable for additional inpatient admissions.

Currently, PSMC has 11 inpatient beds, but all of the beds are rarely staffed as the ER generally cares for only three to four patients daily. One bed is not used for inpatients and is a dedicated activity room. As such, the ER is routinely staffed by one registered nurse (RN) and one ER technician — one RN can usually assume care for five inpatients.

In the event that more inpatient beds are full on a given day, staffing is increased to provide adequate care. One administrative RN is always on call so staffing needs can be addressed. PSMC is also currently recruiting RNs in order to expand the ability of the ER team to admit a full census of 10 inpatients.

In the mean time, patients requiring a higher level of care than can be provided or service unavailable at PSMC are transferred to the closest appropriate facility for the level of care needed. Often, the closest facility that meets additional patient needs is Mercy.

Bradshaw explained that inpatient admissions have increased this month due to flu season and increased numbers of pneumonia cases. Additionally, the start of the new, full-time orthopedic program at PSMC directed by Dr. William Webb is keeping the inpatient unit more full than usual.

In order to provide the highest level of care possible to patients, PSMC will continue to transfer patients that cannot be cared for safely at the hospital and patients requiring services not provided on the campus. Over the past two years, the number of transfers from PSMC has steadily declined — last month only 11 out of 480 hospital patients were transferred, most of whom required a higher level of care than could be provided at PSMC.

PSMC continues to develop additional programs, adding services, specialists and technical capacity to the hospital. It is the hope of medical center staff and management that these developments will eventually allow the inpatient unit to hold a maximum capacity of 10 patients at a time. PSMC has also applied to be designated a level 4 trauma center, an improvement from a level 5, and hopes to be awarded this status in April.

If the level 4 designation is awarded, more patients with severe trauma injuries will be able to be treated and cared for at PSMC. Such patients would otherwise require transfer.

As PSMC continues to grow its capacity to serve the needs of the Pagosa Springs’ community, hospital staff looks forward to being able to care for increased numbers of inpatients without their having to be transferred to other facilities.