As the Telluride region’s only 24-hour emergency and trauma center, things can get pretty hectic in our ER. Especially during our busy winter and summer tourist seasons. We are proud of our team’s ability to care for our patients regardless of the emergency, but many may not realize just how difficult that job can be sometimes. So here’s a look at a recent weekend in the Telluride Regional Medical Center ER.

Friday: A stroke of luck.

Our first patient arrived with a stroke.  Fortunately, it was quiet at the time so we could dedicate all our attention to his care. After our initial evaluation, we did lab work and a CT scan, then we consulted virtually with a neurologist in Denver.

A stroke is called a brain attack. Time is critical. We had a three-hour window to diagnose the situation and administer clot busting medication. Then we arranged to fly the patient to a hospital equipped to continue his critical care. His case went well, but our action-packed  weekend was just beginning.

From 12noon-8pm on Friday we saw 23 more patients. One arrived with a heart arrhythmia and another with abdominal pain. Several patients had broken bones. We transferred one to another facility for surgery.  We saw allergic reactions and a woman with Type 1 diabetes who needed transfer to an ICU.

Overnight, we saw a baby with a severe viral respiratory infection. It was a challenging day. Since we only have five beds in our ER, managing all these patients took a lot of creative juggling.

Saturday: Full speed ahead

On Saturday, we “only” saw 17 patients. Several arrived with fractures due to ski accidents. Another was having a severe allergic reaction.

By the middle of that day all our rooms were occupied. That’s when an older gentleman arrived with a critical spinal cord injury due to a ski accident. Thankfully, we were able to transfer him to St. Mary’s hospital for neurosurgical care, our closest tertiary care partner.

Sunday: No rest for the weary

The day started relatively normally. A few upper respiratory infections, and the typical patients with orthopedic injuries. Ski patrol had just brought us two patients that ultimately ended up with a head injury and cervical spine fractures. By mid-day, our rooms were all filled.

Just before 2pm we got a call from EMS that they were on their way with a woman who was in active labor. Her contractions were just 1-2 minutes apart.

The clinic was closed, so we immediately moved two patients from our trauma bays to clinic rooms. Mom arrived in the final stages of labor. We rapidly assessed her and got all of our equipment ready to have a baby.  We practice for this, and the Medical Center is well equipped thanks to some generous donors, but we don’t do it very often and it is always stressful.

We don’t have the luxury of obstetricians or anesthesiologists and we never know if any complications could be in store. But it is an amazing event to be part of.  Mom progressed quickly, and after a quick ultrasound, the baby decided to arrive.  Soon enough, mom was stable, baby was warm, and ready to start breastfeeding.  Everyone was thrilled.  We transferred mom and baby by ambulance to Montrose.  Then we got back to the rest of our patients.

Later that day we treated several more patients with head injuries, a child with a dog bite to the face, a baby with RSV and a young woman with seizures. It was another long day.

When the going gets tough…

If you’ve been to TRMC, you know that our limited space is always a challenge. Our team is very efficient and adept at moving patients around but seeing a lot of patients in a short period of time is definitely stressful. We all felt a sigh of relief when the ski patrol called to tell us that the mountain was “clear and closed.” That means we would not be seeing more ski injuries from ski patrol that day.

Our team is proud of the work they do, and thankful for the incredible community support the Medical Center receives. We are a small town, and it’s gratifying to see how we all take care of each other.  In some places, a patient might feel like a stranger. In Telluride we are all friends and neighbors. Even if we have never met before.

Telluride Regional Medical Center is grateful for our community support. Much of the care we provide over this weekend in the ER was thanks to the medical equipment donated by our community members, including cardiac monitors, a CT scan, a stroke robot, clot busting medication, a baby isolette and more. To learn how you can help, click here.