Mercy Regional Medical Center received five additional ventilators in response to the coronavirus outbreak as part of a national stockpile strategic program.
In total, 100 ventilators were distributed to 11 Colorado hospitals, mostly along the Front Range. Mercy was the only health care facility in Southwest Colorado to receive the medical equipment.
According to an announcement from Colorado’s Emergency Operations Center, the ventilators could be moved based on the current needs of hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients.
The state chose what facilities received shipments based on hospitals that requested ventilators and where most outbreaks are occurring, the announcement said.
A spokeswoman with Mercy did not immediately respond to questions asking how many ventilators the facility has on hand. In previous interviews, hospital officials have declined to disclose that information.
Liane Jollon, director of San Juan Basin Public Health, the agency leading emergency response efforts, said in a previous interview there are fewer than 20 ventilators throughout health care facilities in La Plata and Archuleta counties.
But, she said there are enough resources to draw from in an emergency situation that would increase the number of ventilators in the region to about 45.
Jollon could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
Ventilators are considered one of the most important pieces of medical equipment in fighting the coronavirus, used when a patient can no longer breathe on his or her own after the virus has attacked the respiratory system.
The World Health Organization says most people – about 80% – who are infected recover without hospitalization. But the report said one in six can become seriously ill, and in the most severe cases, a ventilator might be needed.
Mercy did not respond to an inquiry into how many patients have needed to be put on a ventilator to date.
But across the country and world, the machines are in short supply. Local health officials have said Southwest Colorado has an appropriate number should a surge in cases hit, but as of this past weekend, the region has not experienced a spike.