Extra medical staff flying to Colorado to help fight COVID-19

Coronavirus

GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — Hospitals across Colorado continue trying to come up with new ways to deal with waves of patients showing symptoms of COVID-19. That includes bringing in nurses from other states.

Some hospitals have come up with what they call “surge plans.”

COVID-19 patients have already started arriving at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, where the staff says they are as ready as can be. 

To deal with the surge, part of parent company Banner Health’s plans are to move staff to places they are needed the most.  

“We’re able to pull forces across state lines as well as staff, and that has been very beneficial,” said Banner Health System Western Region President Margo Karsten.

Those medical professionals can be temporarily reassigned between Banner’s 28 hospitals in six states. 

Bailey Scalise of Phoenix was one of 10 nurses who was brought in from out of state to help in Greeley. 

“It was just crazy with the influx of patients coming through. Their ICU opened like into an overflow,” she said.

In Weld County, 293 people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, and the number is rising. 

Scalise says she never imagined she’d be treating so many patients near her own age. 

“Here in this COVID unit, the first day I was working, all of my patients were in their 20s. Some of them had just come out of ICU and they were on ventilator and getting better. It’s kind of scary even as a nurse because I’m 26,” she said.

Scalise and her fellow staff members even brought extra personal protective gear – she showed FOX31 how it was contained in a plastic baggie.

But she says North Colorado Medical Center has plenty of the equipment needed to keep staff safe. 

Banner is also moving equipment from places like Wyoming, where COVID is not as prevalent. 

“They were able to send a ventilator down just to have available as extra inventory for northern Colorado and that has been very helpful,” Karsten said.

Banner Health says it’s also working with other hospitals like UCHealth to help each other out if things get worse.

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