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2016 Pertussis Outbreak Information

Community Letter for Crowley and Otero County Residents:

In response to the recent Pertussis outbreak, the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center (AVRMC) reports a significant rise in inappropriate use of the hospital’s emergency room. This has put a strain on AVRMC’s resources. We all have a collective responsibility to our hospital, and that is to use its resources appropriately.

What is appropriate use of the emergency room? To answer this question, we must consider the definition of emergency. Put simply, an emergency can be defined as a time sensitive and life threatening situation. What is a genuine emergency for one person may not be for another. For example, a 101 degree fever accompanied by mild to moderate cold symptoms is not a time sensitive, life threatening situation for most people. However for a person that has an immune system that is not working properly this may be very time sensitive and life threatening. Using the simple definition of emergency, we need to look at each situation and ask ourselves, “Is this truly time sensitive and life threatening?” If it is not, then it is very likely not an emergency. If it is not an emergency, then using AVRMC’s emergency room would not be appropriate. For non-emergency medical conditions and questions, contact your medical provider. Always understand and follow your doctor’s advice and complete all of your prescribed medication according to the label instructions.

An option for time sensitive, non-emergency medical issues is Valley-Wide Health Systems Convenient Care, which is available 7 days a week, and is located at 1012 Belmont Avenue in La Junta. Hours of operation are Mon-Fri, 8am – 7pm and Sat-Sun, 8am – 5pm.

Abundant, useful information on Pertussis can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website. Point your web browser to the following address to learn more about Pertussis: www.cdc.gov/pertussis/

Let’s work together to ensure that the hospital’s emergency room is used for its intended purpose, which is a situation that is time sensitive and life threatening (a true emergency). If you have questions about the directions given in this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me at 719-383-3045.


Richard “Rick” Ritter, Executive Director

Otero County Health Department