Fundraising efforts look to improve equipment at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center | SteamboatToday.com

Fundraising efforts look to improve equipment at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center

The Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation is raising money for equipment that will enable the hospital to continue providing high-level care for newborns.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As director of respiratory therapy, Bill Moore understands the importance of a non-invasive ventilator to his patients at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

"As people become critically ill, their work of breathing increases dramatically and there is a point where they no longer have enough energy to keep up with their respiratory demands. So that's when we step in and try to assist or reduce their work of breathing, or take over the work of some of their breathing with a machine," he said. "The thing with non-invasive ventilation is the early intervention. When we identify somebody in the preliminary stages of respiratory failure, we try to intervene by taking over the of work of breathing and giving them an opportunity to relax."

He said the machine creates the opportunity for other therapies to work, and he hopes it will help the patient avoid having to use an invasive ventilator, which increases the chances of negative side effects like ventilator-associated pneumonia

"If we can avoid that, that in and of itself saves lives," Moore said.

That's why he is excited that the Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation has included a pair of non-invasive ventilators as part of a fundraising effort for 2018. It’s hoped that the money raised by the community will help the hospital purchase the items to replace ventilators that are old and out of date.

"We are actually replacing the ones that we have," Moore said. "They are at the end of their useful life and they have stopped manufacturing replacement parts, so we can no longer repair them when they wear out."

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The new ventilators are one of two items on this year’s wish list.

The list also includes a new NeoBlue LED photo therapy system that will help the hospital care for babies suffering a form of jaundice.

"Jaundice is very common in infants," Registered Nurse Heather Yeager said. "About 60 percent of term newborns and about 80 percent of premature infants will develop jaundice. The addition of this new product will impact a lot of patients and their families."

Yeager said the NeoBlue LED photo therapy system will be used in treating babies with high levels of bilirubin in the blood that causes newborn jaundice that makes the baby's skin and eyes look yellow.  It will supplement and replace other light treatment methods currently used at YVMC.

The new system would help treat babies that show signs of jaundice with test results that reveal high levels of bilirubin. If that condition goes untreated for too long it can cause a condition called kernicterus, a non-reversible disorder that results in  brain damage as the result of high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood. It can cause athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss.

"Not many cases actually reach those levels because we are so proactive about monitoring … and then treating aggressively with the lights when needed," Yeager said.

Yeager said this condition is rare because the condition is normally treated by using light technologies like BiliBed, or bank lights. But the equipment currently being used at Yampa Valley Medical Center is aging, and needs to be replaced. Yeager said the NeoBlue technology  is an important addition to the hospital’s current level of care.

"It is very high on our list," Yeager said. "We are a family-centered unit where our aim is to keep families, parents and babies together as much as possible. When this disruption occurs because we don't have enough of the best products available for our babies, that is what we want to avoid. We want to keep our babies with their families."

Lisa Joens, donor relations coordinator for the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation, said each year the foundation identifies different items needed at the hospital. 

"What we do, generally, is reach out to some of the departments and see what they might need," Joens said. "Those items came to the surface and we thought those would be a really good fit."

She said the foundation is sending out donation cards to the community hoping for a solid response. Those wanting to donate can go online to yvmcf.org. The foundation will also host its 14th Annual Penguin Plunge Saturday, March 24 at Catamount Lake House Grille & Pool. That money will benefit emergency and trauma services.

"We raise the money for the Yampa Valley Medical Center and for our community," Joens said. 'What we raise here, stays here."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.