Doctors, nurses and hospitals are the cornerstone of Colorado’s diverse healthcare system, and for rural communities, they often mean even more. Rural healthcare providers make significant sacrifices to create access to critical services that individuals and families would have to travel long distances for otherwise. They are economic contributors, lifelines to preventative and behavioral health resources, and, perhaps above all, they are friends and neighbors.
The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the essential role that rural providers serve, but also the significant financial challenges and operational limitations. Keefe Memorial Hospital in Cheyenne Wells is just one example of how the pandemic is affecting the fragile rural healthcare system. The impact of an absence from even one physician can stress the entire system and finding replacements or substitute physicians – even before the COVID-19 pandemic – are hard to come by.
It is a testament to our state’s integrated healthcare system that is designed to improve access and delivery of quality care to any area that may fall short. Our unified healthcare system is much larger than one physician, one hospital and one health system. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, a newly designed hospital buddy system has allowed for urban and rural hospitals to coordinate and share resources for high-level patient care on an hourly basis. By our healthcare leaders and state officials collaborating and working together broadly across the state, patients receive better care, and ultimately, lives are saved.
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