Buena Vista Correctional Complex remains in phase III operational status as the result of an outbreak of COVID-19 among offenders housed at the facility.

Phase III means that inmates remain in their cells during the quarantine period outside of using restrooms or showering. 

All meals and medications are delivered to inmates in their living units. 

Inmates have access to their normal personal property during the quarantine period, as well as access to mail. 

The facility undergoes extensive cleaning multiple times a day and staff and inmates continue to be required to wear face coverings.

As part of the prevalence testing, inmates are appropriately quarantined and put into cohorts within the facility.

As of Wednesday 180 offenders and 9 staff members at BVCC have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 7. An additional 3 staff members who live outside of the county also tested positive.

During Wednesday’s Chaffee County Public Health Town Hall online meeting Dr. Erica Gelgand, medical director for infection prevention and control at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, said the hospital and Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services are working closely with the Department of Corrections and talks with them on a weekly basis to get updates and try to coordinate efforts.

Those patients would be treated at HRRMC if they required hospitalization.

“It does impact us. It impacts EMS,” she said.

Gelgand said HRRMC and EMS meet weekly with Dr. Randolph Maul, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Corrections, as well as BVCC warden Jason Lengerich and the facility’s physicians assistant and nurse practitioners.

“It’s a very dynamic and necessary conversation that we have to keep everybody abreast of what’s going on with that outbreak, because there is a considerable amount of offenders that are in that facility,” Gelgand said.

Annie Skinner, public information officer of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said Thursday the current offender population of the complex is 1,062 with a staff complement of 334.

Josh Hadley, manager of Chaffee County EMS said in addition to the weekly meetings he and other members of HRRMC have had additional conversations with the Department of Corrections on what can be done to support the DOC and ensure everything is being done to protect the community.

Chaffee County Commissioner Greg Felt said he really wanted to acknowledge the prison for their response to the outbreak. 

“My hat’s really off to our warden Jason Lengerich and the assistant warden Bryan Coleman and their staff,” Felt said.

He commended the work done in collaboration with Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the National Guard in testing the entire prison population three times and the staff twice.

“I think they’ve done a great job at keeping what, in the back of my mind was a major concern, well contained and, I think, providing a good template for other correctional facilities to work from,” Felt said.

At this time no interfacility transfers to or from BVCC are being made, she said.

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