Submitted by Hugh Qualls
Hospital Administrator

The holidays are upon us—ready or not. Halloween is a month-long event at Mt. Grant General; frightful decorations appeared out of nowhere in early October and have multiplied ever since. In addition to the annual children’s parade (everyone’s favorite) through the hospital and Lefa L. Seran Skilled Nursing Facility on the 31st, our staff get into the spirit (bad pun) that day as well. Each department typically has a theme, e.g., Lab personnel as thirsty vampires, spooky skeletons in Radiology (you get the idea). As you might expect with such staff participation, a costume contest is held that afternoon, once the kids return to school. You are welcome to stop by at 2 p.m. today to witness this bizarre spectacle—always a hit with residents and patients; we have a creative staff so you never know what crazy idea they will come up with.

Fingers crossed time. The hospital is waiting to hear from a well known state philanthropic foundation on the status of our grant application. We are seeking to purchase a new 64 Slice CT Scanner, a state-of-the-art machine that will provide faster, more accurate diagnostic scans. Some of the notable advantages and benefits of this new scanner are: lung cancer screening, coronary artery analysis, minimal operating noise levels (improved patient experience), reduced radiation exposure, pediatric-specific settings, and a guaranteed uptime of 98 percent or better (our antiquated 16 slice CT breaks down monthly and parts, if available, are hard to find). Scanners of this scale cost seven figures or more so a grant is our sole means of acquiring one. We should get word in the next month or so.

You may have seen announcements in the paper recently about Dr. Ruch making house calls, our modern day Marcus Welby. Her community outreach efforts don’t end there; she also makes weekly visits to the county jail to provide care for inmates. As if that weren’t enough, not long ago her staff put on a birthday party for one of her patients, a local senior with no family in town. Gifts, cake, and clinic employees were all present to make this day special for a forgotten senior. Happy tears evident as well among the many gathered as memories were shared and best wishes exchanged.

Every October, Nevada schools and hospitals participate in earthquake preparedness drills as part of Shakeout Day—this year known as the Seismic Wave. Lefa L. Seran residents and staff made the most of the event earlier this month to practice evacuating the building, once the tremors subside. It was a gorgeous fall day so all enjoyed the sunshine while exiting to our designated safe assembly area. Fun for all but with a very serious purpose; our staff is dedicated to keeping residents and patients safe.

As mentioned in this column several months ago, patients who come to the ER with non-emergent conditions, will be sent to the clinic whenever possible. We currently average nearly 250 ER visits per month; about a third of those are actual emergency situations. The Nurse Health Line (775-341-6161) is there for you 24/7 to speak to a registered nurse about the best course of action, which in many cases is a clinic appointment. You will likely be seen much sooner and at a lesser cost.

Several nursing home residents traveled with me to the Eastern Sierra earlier this month. The evergreens, yellow cottonwood and red aspen created a colorful tapestry across the mountains, much to the delight of my companions. This and other trips are made possible by generous donations from our local Lions Club. My thanks to Hawthorne Lions and especially Jean Peterson (promise to take you with us next time).

Did I mention the holidays are here? One sure sign: Toys For Tots boxes are in place in the hospital and clinic. Season’s Greetings!