GRAND JUNCTION, Colo — The first case of COVID-19 was officially reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The United States saw its first reported outbreak in January 2020.

The virus didn’t impact the Western Slope until late 2020, but then it was almost as if a meteorite of chaos crushed Mesa County.

Chris Thomas, President, and CEO of Community Hospital says, “a lot of our outpatient business last spring, so March, April, May, we really were forced to close a lot of our outpatient services, elective surgeries, etc and so that put us in a pretty big bind.”

At the time, most industries were laying people off, desperate for a job, but Community Hospital decided to take another route.

Thomas also says, “We found other jobs for people. We kept everybody employed. Our physical therapy, occupational therapy department was basically a ghost town, so we brought that staff back into the hospital and they worked in our food service. A lot of our nurses, we took advantage of them being available. We sent them to our medical records department.”

Not only did staff members change their roles, patients began putting off medical treatment, causing some issues to worsen.

Thomas added, “we’re seeing a lot of sick patients that have put off healthcare during 2020 that have come back to the hospital.”

Before inpatient visits resumed, Community Hospital changed course and decided to go digital, here is just one of many stories, “an elderly couple that had an appointment wanted to do telemedicine but did not have adequate internet in their home, so they sat outside Barnes and Noble, logged on to their internet, the free internet at Barnes and Noble and had a telemedicine visit with our physicians,” according to Thomas.

Now Community Hospital is preparing for the next health emergency. So many employees were forced to stay home with quarantined children. Community Hospital will build a groundbreaking daycare.

Thomas added, “we are working and finalizing our plans to build a daycare on our campus.”

Public health and a community fighting the good fight to end COVID-19.