It’s no surprise that Merriam-Webster recently announced “pandemic” as 2020’s word of the year. So many of our lives and business practices have been changed by a microscopic, novel Coronavirus that caused a global outbreak. And yet, as 2020 comes to a close, there are many innovations worth celebrating as a result of, and even despite, the pandemic. The team at Monument Health wrote this letter to call attention to our network partners and their wins during this difficult year and offer a new word for 2020 on their behalf—“innovation.” 

As many of you know, our partners include the incredible physicians, insurance providers, and hospitals who work tirelessly to bring you high-quality, value-based healthcare every day. This includes over 200 primary care providers and close to 1,000 specialists. Although we can’t touch on all of their successes, we want to share a few of their victories with you because they are worthy accomplishments made during an extremely trying year. 

Delta County Memorial Hospital is Monument Health’s newest hospital partner with just over one year of participation in our health network. They are a highly lauded hospital and for three years in a row have received both the Urgent Care Exemplary Provider Award and the Patient Safety Award. In addition to expanding their clinics to include orthopedics and urology this year, they also received a substantial Rocky Mountain Health Foundation grant to provide greater telehealth reach to the community through laptops, tablets, and web cameras. They successfully held their very first drive-through flu clinic for community members vaccinating nearly 200 residents and did not let COVID sway them from making their 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive for employees by employees –called “It Starts at Home”—a huge success.  Delta Hospital continues to provide access to high-quality healthcare services to residents through their 49-bed hospital and 13 clinics throughout Delta County.

Primary Care Partners is one of Monument Health’s founding members. The organization and their physicians are committed to caring for the whole person during health appointments. Not only did PCP develop a plan of action early in March to ensure continuous care was provided for their patients, they launched telehealth for over 85 of their providers. With this upgrade, they went from zero telehealth visits to 10,000 at the height of the pandemic. While patients have been at-home and isolated, PCP added remote patient monitoring and embedded therapists into telehealth appointments to care for the mental health of their patients during routine check-ups. Through foresight and collaboration, they worked closely with Children’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital to successfully gain approvals to administer pediatric COVID tests in advance of demand. As the holidays approach, PCP has transitioned their efforts away from traditional holiday parties to an outward community focus. Not only are they collecting canned goods for the Salvation Army, they are supporting Having Hope for the Holidays, a non-profit that assembles and delivers care packages to children who will be spending their Christmas in the hospital, away from home.

St. Mary’s Medical Center has been a community leader collaborating with Community Hospital, Colorado Canyon’s Hospital & Medical Center, the VA Hospital, and the local health department to guarantee bed space for our community and region’s most at-risk COVID patients while continuing to meet its mission. At the onset of the pandemic, St. Mary’s was able to implement telehealth appointments, prescreening and safety protocols, testing algorithms, and safe COVID wings within the hospital. They also launched the convalescent plasma program at St. Mary’s Blood Center—accepting blood plasma donations from recovered COVID patients to treat severely ill COVID patients in need of an immunity boost from that same plasma donation. In spite of COVID, the hospital also worked diligently to reduce health care costs. At the St. Mary’s Imaging Pavilion prices were reduced by as much as 70% for MRI’s, CT Scans, and ultrasounds passing those savings onto community members and patients. St. Mary’s also participated in its first full year of a food recovery program in partnership with Sodexo, Western Colorado Community Foundation, and Homeward Bound. Through the food recovery program, the hospital’s cafeteria donated 7,100 pounds of food— which translates into 4,260 meals—to Homeward Bound to help fight food insecurity locally instead of throwing it in the trash destined for the landfill. 

Family Health West and Colorado Canyons Hospital & Medical Center have continued to innovate to meet the needs of their patients and residents. Using a grant from generous donors in the community awarded through the Family Health West Foundation, Colorado Canyons Hospital & Medical Center transitioned their outdoor rehab park between each wing of the hospital into an outdoor visitation center in order to keep families connected at a safe-distance.  The upgraded pergola allows complete airflow, adjustable shading, and enough space for a patient and their family to be seated at least six feet apart in total comfort and under supervision. Colorado Canyons has been utilizing this space every day since April, weather permitting.  They have created a similar concept to allow for safe, socially distanced outdoor visitation areas at the Oaks Assisted Living Area permitting true, human interaction for their high-risk seniors. Through a partnership with local food truck vendors, they have also offered creative “eat-out(side)” options for their senior residents while supporting vendors who have been hit hard by the pandemic.  

COVID-19 has demanded much of our partners. Each have continued to think outside the box to meet the needs of their patients, residents, and the community members. They have embraced innovation at every turn and we’re proud of their achievements during this very difficult year. If you get the chance, please tell them “thank you.” 

As 2020 comes to a close, we know the pandemic is not yet behind us. We need to celebrate our innovations and continue to support one another as we ring in 2021. After all, we’re all in this together and we can be certain there will be more progress and more innovations to celebrate in the coming year.

Cheers and happy holidays, 

The Monument Health Team