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Gunnison Valley Hospital offers anesthesiology services


Ron Yardley knows about pain, or more specifically, pain relief. His medical field, you could say, is one of the world’s best pain relievers. Yardley is a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Gunnison Valley Hospital. At the beginning of 2014, Gunnison Valley Hospital added two certified registered nurse anesthetists, including Ron Yardley and Jordan Thompson, to work with Dr Richard Nay in providing anesthesia care for their patients. The team is responsible for administering anesthesia to patients in preparation for medical procedures.

How important CRNAs to the medical field? Try to imagine a patient undergoing total knee replacement or the deivery of a newborn without anesthesia. Or imagine trying to perform oral surgery on a young child undergoing what has to be the most terrifying experience of their life without sedation. The first public demonstration of general anesthesia dates back to 1842 and was presented by a Boston dentisst. Since that time the field has become as specialized as any in the medical profession. There are many categories of anesthesia, and the three most commonly used are general, MAC and regional. And, as Yardley points out, “The best anesthesia is always the one with the lowest risk to the patient, but that makes it possible to complete the procedure without pain.”

Yardley bases his choice of anesthesia on the patient’s health, the complexity of the medical procedure being performed and the patient’s desires. “Prior to a medical procedure, we’ll review the patient’s health history, work with the doctor and involve the patient. We’ll determine the best anesthetic plan and explain the risks and the benefits of certain anesthesias, for example, whether to go with a local anesthesia or put the patient completely under. Then we let the patient decide which he or she would prefer,” he adds.

In the case of child birth, patients have a multitude of choices. Yardley explains that whether the labor process has started on its own or is a scheduled delivery, the doctor and patient will discuss all the options. Once they determine together that the labor process will begin or continue, whatever the case may be, then anesthesia can be administered. “in most cases, the decision is to go with an epidural to control pain during labor, but the decision, again, is up to the patient. Very rarely are there any complications with an epidural.” The procedure involves inserting a sterile guide needle and a small tube or epidural catheter into the epidural space. The pain that some patients feel is usually the numbing medicine that feels like a small bee sting.

An anesthetic medication is injected into the catheter to numb the body providing excellent pain control and relief. “From this poin on, the anesthetic is administered by the patient. The woman has a button she can push whenever she feels she needs more anesthetic, within safe parameters, of course.” Yardley says. Generally, Yardley will offer patients a couple of different options. For example, for a total knee replacement, he may present a spinal or general anesthesia. “We explain that spinal anesthesia provides pain control post op, as we can keep the patient asleep as well as during the surgery with other medication. When they do wake up, it will control the pain for 18 to 24 hours, which enables doctors time to find pain relief after surgery,” adds Yardley. “But they may opt for general anesthesia. It will keep the patient asleep during surgery, but when they wake up they will encounter some pain before relief is available. We recommend the best and safest anesthesia, but again, we leave that decision up to the patient.”

One area getting more attention at the hospital these days is pediatrics or the treatment of children. It is an area of treatment not all area residents realize is available and some still believe they have to travel hundreds of miles to receive professional care for their children, especially the very young.

“We do, in fact, provide medical service for children, even the very young. We have doctors on call 24-7 that provide excellent care to children. It’s the same with our anesthesiology services. We are available 24-7 to participate in a range of elective surgeries for children, such as tonsillectomies or to help in a dental procedure or serious accident. We are sometimes required to sedate children undergoing an MRI. It’s difficult to get children to remain motionless for any period of time, especially with something so foreign to them,” he says.