As the number of COVID-19 cases has ramped up in Chaffee County, 139 cases reported so far for October with a week to go in the month, Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center continues to monitor the situation and provide protection for patients and staff.

Allison Gergley, HRRMC director of public relations and marketing, said the hospital continues to require masks be worn at all times in all facilities and continues to screen each person for symptoms prior to their appointments. 

She said HRRMC reviews state guidance and current data constantly and continues to monitor processes and discuss any changes that should be made consistently.

HRRMC still has unvaccinated staff who are tested before the start of each shift.

She said testing frequency for unvaccinated staff changes based on our county level according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines. 

In a recent Salida Hospital District board meeting HRRMC CEO Bob Morasko told board members the hospital is following guidelines laid out by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while awaiting Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines. 

Any facility that accepts Medicare and Medicaid patients must follow CMS guidelines to be in compliance.

Those guidelines generally supersede state guidelines in terms of patient care and safety.

Gergley said, “Unfortunately, we have no word yet from CMS on final guidance. We are eagerly awaiting this information.”

Currently there is an Oct. 31 deadline for unvaccinated employees, who are not exempt, to get a Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccination or face the possibility of losing their job.

“If CMS guidance arrives prior to Oct. 31, and guidance varies from our current plan, we will adopt whatever changes CMS provides to us,” Gergley said.

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