UCHealth opens newest hospital in Longmont

UCHealth employees put all the parts and pieces together to ensure efficiency and fluid, excellent care starting on day one.
September 5, 2017
A UCHealth lifeline helicopter crew practices transferring a patient to an ambulance crew at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital.
UCHealth Lifeline crew, left, works with Longmont’s AMR ambulance crew, right, during a “Day in the Life” training exercise prior UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital’s opening in Longmont. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

A woman walked through the doors of Longs Peak Hospital Emergency Room complaining of chest pain. Meanwhile, in the ambulance bay, staff rushed out to a private vehicle to help a pregnant woman in a blood-stained shirt. Moments later, through the main entrance, a woman in labor arrived.

While these patients were actors, the scenarios were all part of a “Day in the Life’’ to prepare UCHealth’s nurses, technicians, doctors and non-clinical staff for the Sept. 1 opening of the hospital.

During the training, the hospital’s Vice President of Operations, Jason Amrich, spoke to the importance of the training.

“Our work today will help us give a flawless execution on day one,” Amrich said, standing alongside the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Joseph Gerardi on the glass stairwell in the hospital’s entry.

By the end of the training day, a handful of different mock scenarios had played out that drew upon every service the new hospital provides. The training helped expert health care providers become comfortable in their new space, ensuring efficiency and fluid, excellent care.

It all began just before 9 a.m. Each team, depending on the scenario they were participating in that morning, gathered with their group to learn quickly what would be taking place in the next few hours. The patients’ scenarios had already been carefully planned, but how staff would react and treat those patients would be determined — just as in real life — in the moment based on their observations, experience and training.

During a training exercise, Dr. Jamie Teumer, medical director of the UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital ER, and a nurse practice caring for a pregnant gunshot vicitm who is laying on a hospital bed.
Dr. Jamie Teumer, left, medical director of UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital Emergency Room, works with ER nurses on a “pregnant gunshot victim” during a mock training prior to the hospital’s opening. As a Level III, the hospital’s ER staff has the ability to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth

“By creating a few scenarios, we test every aspect of our system, from paging alerts and communication devices to the work processes between staff and doctors,” said Dr. Jamie Teumer, medical director for the LPH emergency department. “For staff, they practice mobilizing the resources they need, locating equipment and getting it up and running, and utilizing the computer part of their job.”

When the late-middle-aged female showed up at the emergency room complaining of severe chest pain, staff immediately called a cardiac alert, which mobilized resources — a cardiologist, catheterization laboratory orders, CT scan and ER staff — so the patient could be cared for quickly.

LPH has a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratory, interventional radiology and endoscopy suites, and an intuitive DaVinci Xi Robot.

A team of imaging experts at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital practice using a new CT machine during a training. You see the workers in one room and the large white CT machine in an adjacent room.
UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital imaging crew works with its CT during a mock training prior to the hospital’s opening. Its inpatient and outpatient radiology services are available 24 hours a day and are fully digital (no film). Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

Inpatient and outpatient radiology services are available 24 hours a day and are fully digital (no film). It also has the only SPECT-CT in northern Colorado, a type of nuclear imaging test that uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to create 3D pictures of internal organs.

This technology allows physicians — Longmont Clinic, community surgeons and CU School of Medicine Department of Surgery faculty members — to perform a variety of general, cardiovascular, orthopedic, urologic and other surgeries at the hospital and at the outpatient Longs Peak Surgery Center on the east end of the building.

Additional facts about Longs Peak Hospital

  • The hospital has a 24/7 retail pharmacy — the only one in Boulder County.
  • The hospital has 51 inpatient beds with room to grow to more than 100. This includes private patient rooms with private showers, flat-screen televisions and fold-out couches for family members.
  • Its café seats 42 people inside and has a beautiful courtyard with more seating, and is open seven days a week.
  • The Longs Peak Surgery Center has a separate entrance so patients don’t need to go through the hospital’s lobby, and has a separate patient pickup area for additional privacy and comfort.
  • Its operating rooms have full video integration and wireless communication systems to help staff keep family members informed during a patient’s stay.

Longs Peak Hospital Emergency Department has 10 large private rooms, two behavioral health rooms and one resuscitation room for advanced, critical and trauma care (with space to add another) and two behavior health rooms are specially designed with patient safety and comfort in mind. It also has a clinical decision unit, which provides a place for patients requiring a short period of observation or treatment to stay, typically for a maximum of 24 hours.

Longmont area residents, visitors and law enforcement agencies also have the benefit of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at the new hospital. SANE nurses are specially trained to help victims of sexual assaults by providing adult and pediatric medical examinations, using compassionate and evidence-based methods. The medical exam is performed only after a patient provides consent and involves a physical exam, collection of forensic evidence and patient history. Additionally, patients receive community resources.

When the private vehicle pulled into the ambulance bay carrying a 32-week pregnant female with a gunshot wound to the back, the patient was brought into Trauma Room 1, immediately activating the full trauma team and alerting the OB doctors and upstairs birth center as well as the Longmont Police Department.

LPH is a Level III Trauma Center and Emergency Department, the same as UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and UCHealth Memorial Hospital North in Colorado Springs.

A team of nurses and doctors who specialize in care for babies practices transporting a baby doll during a mock exercise.
UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital special care nursery staff transports a “patient” from the emergency room to the nursery during a mock training prior to the hospital’s opening. LPH has a Level II special care nursery that allows it to care for babies born as young as 32-weeks gestation. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

As a Level III, Longs Peak provides prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations. However, in certain serious cases, such as this one, patients are stabilized then transferred to the closest higher–level trauma hospital, such as UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, or UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs.

As staff tended to the gunshot victim, staff discovered that the baby was crowning. The birth center prepared for the delivery of a 32-week-old by prepping the infant warmer and alerting the special care nursery staff. After the baby was born, he was moved to the special care nursery.

LPH Special Care Nursery is a Level II, meaning that it can care for babies born at greater than 32 weeks gestation or recovering from serious conditions. Because the baby was 32 weeks, he was soon transferred to the closest Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which in this case was Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. PVH and Memorial Hospital also are Level III, while MCR is a Level II.

A nurse explains how nitrous oxide works during a mock birth at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital before Colorado newest hospital opened.

UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital registered nurse explains nitrous oxide to a “patient” during a mock training in early August. LPH is the only hospital in Boulder County to offer nitrous oxide as an alternative method for pain relief for women in labor and joins three other hospitals in the UCHealth system (PVH, MCR and UCH) to make this option available to patients. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.The hospital’s birth center, on the third floor, has three labor/delivery and nine postpartum rooms. As part of the Day in the Life scenarios, staff also cared for a patient having a natural birth and requesting a water delivery and nitrous oxide gas for her pain management.

LPH offers both water birth and nitrous oxide by inhalation as alternative methods for pain relief for women in labor. It is the only hospital in Boulder County to offer nitrous oxide and joins three other hospitals in the UCHealth system (PVH, MCR and UCH) to make this option available to patients.

A woman breathes from a nitrous oxide mask while sitting in a water birth tub. She is surrounded by nurses who are helping her during a training before UCHealth's newest hospital opened in Longmont.
A “patient” receives nitrous oxide during her water birth at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital during a mock training prior to the hospital’s opening. LPH offers both water birth and nitrous oxide by inhalation as alternative methods for pain relief for women in labor. Photo by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

While the happy mother was enjoying her new baby, the gunshot victim was being prepped for transfer to UCH.

Transferring decisions, Teumer explained, are based on the wishes of the patient, their family and the ordering physician, as well as the level of care needed and other factors. In the case of the gunshot victim and her baby, they were transferred to Aurora hospitals not only because of those hospitals’ capabilities to care for the patients, but also because they are in close to each other, making it a better option for the family, he said.

By mid-morning, UCHealth LifeLine landed on the hospital’s helipad.

UCHealth LifeLine has a critical care air and ground transportation program. Although this patient had already delivered her baby, the team has been trained — and has special equipment onboard — to transport high-risk pregnancy patients.

Back in the intensive care unit, the middle-aged woman was not responding to treatment, following commands or responsive to pain. The ICU staff transported her for a CT, and the results indicated the patient most likely wouldn’t survive. Staff reviewed the woman’s living will and Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment form on file, and the family decided to follow her wishes. The patient died a few hours later. The hospital’s chaplain, Bruce Rippe, was called to meet with the family while staff completed the paperwork.

As lunch neared, some of the scenarios came to an end while others continued to unfold throughout the rest of the day.  At the end of the day, everyone participated in a debriefing.

“What’s great about this process is you get full observation,” said Marilyn Schock, UCHealth Greeley Hospital president and former chief operating officer of PVH and MCR. “You can’t be at all those points. So 100 percent of everyone needs to debrief because each person sees a different angle. You identify where there might be issues and put a plan together on how to resolve them.”

For Schock, the benefits of Day in the Life extended beyond Longs Peak Hospital. She was using the experience to help her get ahead of issues for the opening of UCHealth Greeley Hospital next year.

“I was looking at facility things, such as if something was too high to reach, and time frames, such as, did we have the right people, the right supplies and the right equipment in place. I can use that information as we work toward building readiness (in Greeley) to help determine if I should order something sooner, post a position earlier or get different equipment,” she said. “For me, it’s taking globally what issues are out there and those lessons learned, and continuing to apply them as we open new locations.”

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.