By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Quay County Commissioners discussed the efforts in progress and those planned to improve local patient care at Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital on Monday with new administrator Donald Weidmann.
“I am very excited about what I have seen since I began work on Christmas Eve,” Weidmann said.
Weidmann was introduced to the commissioners by Craig Cosner, chairman of the hospital’s board.
“Weidmann understands the hospital needs of Eastern New Mexico coming to use from Union County,” Cosner said.
Weidmann said his first day as administrator was an interesting one, with winter storm Goliath rolling out the welcome mat. He said the doctors and medical support staff did an outstanding job caring for the four patients who were admitted to the hospital at the time of the storm.
Weidmann said two of the four patients were receiving acute care and could not be transferred to another medical facility because of the weather.
“The patients received great care by the physicians and staff until they were able to be transferred,” Weidmann said.
District 1 Commissioner Sue Dowell said citizens have expressed concerns to her about the number of patients the hospital is able to accommodate. She said one particular concern included a patient who sought admission to the hospital but instead was transferred to a different hospital.
“They were told due to the patient load and staff they could not be admitted to the hospital,” Dowell said.
Dowell said the community has always been supportive of the hospital and funding it with tax revenue. She said the commission wants to ensure that Quay County residents receive the very best local medical care.
Weidmann said the hospital considers many factors regarding the admission of patients.He said the foremost factor are patients’ health and safety.
Weidmann said the current hospital staff can accommodate the admission of five patients. He said recently the hospital lost four nurses, two to retirement and two who became nurse practitioners. If a patient has an extremely acute medical condition, it may be in the patient’s best interest to be transferred to another facility, Weidmann added.
“It is not the desire of the administration, physicians or staff for the hospital to simply become a transfer station,” Weidmann said. “There are steps that have been taken to fill the vacancies of the nurses.”
Weidmann said Trigg has a 9 percent transfer rate, which is typical for a hospital of its size.
Dowell said she had seen an advertisement for nurses for Presbyterian hospitals, a network that includes Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital, which was not among the hospitals seeking nurses.
Weidmann said he has been approved for increased spending on advertisement for needed staff and was also approved for outside recruitment to fill positions.
District 2 Commissioner Mike Cherry asked Weidmann whether the hospital is “continuing to have locally based physicians staff the emergency room?”
Weidmann said the staff is still locally based for the ER and a recent study that measures satisfaction of patients placed Trigg in the 70 percentile.
“This is a very high mark for the ER to receive,” Weidmann said. “Its places the satisfaction of patients who are treated at the ER above average.”
Dowell said another concern is the lack of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Ob/Gyn) prenatal care at the hospital. She said this is a medical treatment in vital need for residents of the county.
Weidmann said he has begun working on a protocol that will incorporate the hospital into Clovis’ prenatal care program. He said it is still a work in progress but the idea would be to have a clinical visits at this hospital with follow up appointments at Clovis.
Weidmann said there are two other specialty care services the hospital has been looking into bringing to Trigg for their patients. He said Plains Regional Medical Center has hired a cardiologist and he is trying to bring the doctor to Tucumcari to run a specialty clinic at Trigg.
Weidmann said Trigg is also looking into acquiring the latest sleep study technology. He said this would allow the diagnosis and treatment of patients with sleep related disorders including sleep apnea.