HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – UCHealth Highlands Ranch is normally bustling, but activity has slowed recently.

As the Emergency Department Medical Director, Dr. Ben Usatch says the past couple of months have been interesting.

“In 20 some odd years of doing medicine, I’ve never seen anything like this. Certainly there’s been a much heightened sense of awareness as we’ve been caring for a fair number of COVID patients.”

He says the hospital has seen a decrease in non-COVID-19 patients.

“Patients are staying home. Patients are staying home when they shouldn’t,” Usatch said.

He attributes the change to a couple of things: “The one factor is people feel like resources are limited. ERs are packed with COVID patients, and they want to stay home to allow us to care for these very sick patients. The flip side of that is, people may be scared to come in because they’re worried about all the sick people in the hospital, in the ER, and don’t want to expose themselves.”

But Usatch says hours, minutes, and seconds count when it comes to treatment. Not going in to get checked out could mean more complications.

“We’re seeing more perforated appendicitis, people with terrible gallbladder disease, terrible abdominal pain, patients with heart attack, stroke.”

He also says that safety is always their concern. Anyone visiting will see changes once they step through the front doors.

“You’ll see a change to the physical plan. There’s a great deal more (plastic or acrylic sheets) around, there’s a great deal more social distancing, which is put into effect. Six feet between chairs marked on the floor. And then there are all the policy changes. Everything here to take care of patients, to take care of staff and visitors.”

“I can’t say enough about our EVS, or environmental workers, that are moving. I mean, if you pick up a pen and sign a piece of paper, that pen immediately goes out of circulation so it can get cleaned up. I would challenge any other environment to have this level of preparedness,” he added. “You should have no hesitation (about coming in), absolutely none.”

Mekialaya White

  1. Darin says:

    As a patient. We get mixed messages. Our PCM tells us to do everything remotely and not come in.

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