Delta Health: Confronting a global pandemic in rural Colorado
Delta Health is a growing health care system that serves the mainly rural population in Delta County, Colorado. They have sought to provide compassionate, quality health care to their community for more than 100 years — a mission that was challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delta Health’s laboratory offers comprehensive testing services, with Mayo Clinic Laboratories serving as their primary reference laboratory for over 17 years to perform the complex and esoteric testing that can’t be done in house. This relationship has been facilitated by the Western Healthcare Alliance, which works with its members to improve rural health care by connecting them to the resources they need.
In the early days of the pandemic, the top concern was where to acquire COVID-19 testing to keep Delta Health’s patients and staff safe, while continuing to perform critical surgeries and fulfill other health care needs.
“It was unclear how best to test for the virus and where to obtain testing and supplies. The hospital was faced with a potentially large influx of COVID patients and had to quickly plan for the worst-case scenario.”John Rossiter, lab director of Delta Health
years of laboratory collaboration
PCR tests performed, April 2020-April 2021
serology tests performed, April 2020-April 2021
Initially, Delta Health used a variety of options to meet their testing needs, including COVID-19 PCR testing from the State of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment laboratory and from Mayo Clinic Laboratories, which had developed its own PCR test early in the pandemic. Swabs were taken from patients in the community, then shipped to these laboratories for testing. Delta also used point-of-care testing in their emergency and urgent care departments, where they needed to identify positive COVID-19 patients right away.
In the fall of 2020, COVID-19 cases again began to spike, and the state lab’s testing turnaround times started to increase dramatically. The longer wait times were causing issues with surgeries, since they couldn’t start a procedure without a negative COVID-19 test. To fill the gap, Delta started using point-of-care testing for surgeries as well, which limited their supply for emergency and urgent care patients.
“Through the hard work and dedication of individuals at Delta Health, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, and many others, we were able to handle the health care needs of our community during this difficult time.”John Rossiter, lab director of Delta Health
Rossiter then reached out to Mayo Clinic Laboratories, which was able to provide increased support. “We already had a robust system in place for specimen collection, supplies, transportation, and result reporting since we have been a Mayo client for many years. We were up and running within days of requesting COVID-19 testing help, and we experienced the fast turnaround times that we desperately needed to keep our surgery department running smoothly.” With this increased supply of PCR tests, Delta was able to conserve their point-of-care testing for where it was most needed.
Western Healthcare Alliance also worked closely with Delta Health throughout the pandemic, connecting them to sources of scarce medical supplies and providing access to COVID-19 education resources and best practices.
Delta Health put many of its overall goals and plans on hold to meet its community’s needs during the pandemic. Now, they are getting back on track. In 2021, Delta County Memorial Hospital underwent a rebrand, changing its name to Delta Health to reflect the fact that they are a countywide health care system. They also recently added several clinics to expand the care they provide for their communities. “Our laboratory is looking forward to working with Mayo Clinic Laboratories to continue to provide and improve our testing services,” said Rossiter.
All photos provided by Delta Health
Learn more about how we can partner with you to meet the complex and esoteric testing needs of your community.
For more information on the Western Healthcare Alliance, and how they collaborate with rural health care providers to share resources, improve efficiencies, and save money, visit www.wha1.org.
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