RRH CEO “It’s time to heal”

RIDGECREST REGIONAL HOSPITAL — With relaxing state mandates for COVID safety announced earlier this week, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital CEO James Suver addressed what those changes will look like for RRH, and the need to balance caution with a return to normalcy in our community.

Last week, RRH reported only 11 new COVID cases and a 4-percent positivity rate — a dramatic decrease from the hundreds of cases and 40-percent positivity rate recorded in late January. Suver said that continuing to practice sensible precautions — masking where required, vaccinating when possible, social distancing when necessary, and maintaining good hygiene — could help ensure that transmission stays low.

Hospital officials have noted that transmission for the annual flu has also dramatically decreased this year. “We believe a lot of that is on account of the precautions that are in place for COVID,” said Suver. Moving forward, it will be important that these safety practices are adopted when and where appropriate once mandates are lifted.

“We definitely do not want to shut down again,” said Suver. “RRH is a small business and COVID has devastated us financially and emotionally — and we know we are not the only business in our community that has been put in this position.”

Like many operations in Ridgecrest, the hospital had not recovered from 2019 earthquakes when the pandemic set in 8 months later. In addition to the strain of dealing with unprecedented demands of the COVID crisis, RRH has weathered staff shortages, burnout, constantly changing guidance, and blowback from an angry public.

“This is definitely a time for us all to heal. We know that there has been a tragic loss of life and health because of the COVID virus, but there is an unspoken toll that also must be acknowledged,” said Suver.

“People have lost employment opportunities and support systems. Controversial responses to the pandemic have been divisive. Prolonged isolation and stress have eroded mental and emotional wellness,” said Suver.

“One of the best ways we can address public health in our community is by encouraging a safe return to the healthy lifestyles that sustain us.” To this end, outreach services — including exercise, nutritional classes and support groups — have shifted back to in-person at RRH.

“Being geographically isolated from the rest of our state and county, people in the Indian Wells Valley have a history of coming together in crisis. I hope that we can now come together in recovery.”

Story First Published: 2022-03-04