LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – As the delta variant of COVID-19 surges across the country, UCHealth in Northern Colorado is partnering with Colorado State University's renowned animal hospital to make sure anyone who needs care in a local hospital can receive it. CSU loaned their animal hospital ventilator to UCHealth to assure the hospital had the tools it needed for any potential increase in COVID cases in the immediate future.
As of Saturday morning, Larimer County's health department reported every ICU bed in the county was taken. Sheriff Justin Smith took to Facebook calling the spike in COVID-19 cases a "cause for concern," and encouraged people to get vaccinated.
Marilyn Schaefer, UCHealth's North Region Director for Respiratory Therapy, told CBS4's Dillon Thomas most UCHealth hospitals in northern Colorado are at, or near, capacity with patients battling COVID-19. Schaefer said the partnership with CSU allows the health system to be one step further ahead in their battle.
"All of our hospitals in the state, and our system, are seeing a huge uptick in the number of patients coming through our doors daily," Schaefer said. "In our ICU rooms, we are at a point where we never had to double them, put two people in an ICU room. But, because the capacity is so large right now, that is what we are having to do."
Schaefer said UCHealth has enough ventilators on hand to provide proper care to the patients in the ICU. By receiving loaned ventilators from outside entities, like CSU, the hospital is further prepared for more potential patients.
"With the high number of patients we are seeing in our community we are needing to reach out to our community members and clinics for extra ventilators to make sure we can take care of the sickest patients coming through our doors," Schaefer said.
CSU's Kelly Hall, Associate Professor of Critical Care Services, said this was the third time UCHealth and the university partnered by loaning the ventilator.
"We are sending one of our ventilators that we use for our dog and cat patients over to UCHealth," Hall said. "To be able to offer devices that help human health that we use in animal patients is really important to us."
The ventilator is not designed specifically for animals and is a brand many hospitals treating humans use throughout the world. CSU said they were able to loan their ventilator to UCHealth without jeopardizing their business or service to the community, as they have other ventilators intended specifically for animals.
Both Hall and Schaefer said they were hopeful the second time the ventilator was loaned would be the last time. But, with cases surging throughout the region both entities wanted to make sure the tool was made available.
"We were all really hopeful that we were on the downslope of the virus and could get things back to normal. But, as it turned out, our numbers have significantly increased. Our positivity rates have really started to trend in a direction that makes the healthcare community uneasy," Schaefer said. "This is one tool that we hope will save a few lives, educate some people and help turn things around."
One UCHealth doctor in Boulder County said every single patient battling COVID-19 in her hospital was unvaccinated. Sheriff Justin Smith joined health experts in encouraging people to get vaccinated to not only protect themselves, but to help alleviate pressures on the hospital systems as well.
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