SHS Takes Delivery of COVID-19 Rapid Testing Equipment

Southwest Health System (SHS) has been at the forefront of providing expertise and care to the Southwest Colorado’s Montezuma and Dolores Counties during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Immediately SHS identified how critical rapid testing would be in fighting the spread of the disease. Prior to the current pandemic negotiations for procurement of the BD Max had begun in late 2019, as the machine is capable of detecting numerous communicable diseases including chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas, and various gastrointestinal pathogens, as well as the new strain of SARS-CoV-2. Instead of having to send tests off for processing, SHS will now be able to process significant volumes of samples in-house with results being available within 2-4 hours.

“The Beckton Dickinson MAX Lab Analyzer (BD Max) is an instrument that can relatively quickly amplify and detect target genetic material (RNA in COVID’s case). Using nose or throat swabs, a lab tech can process a sample to run within about 5 minutes. Samples can be batched if necessary. Run time on-instrument is 2-3 hours, and it can hold up to 24 samples. The process used to amplify DNA/RNA with the BD Max is extremely sensitive and specific for the target organism (SARS-CoV-2) making it much more accurate and with less of a sample than other tests and methodologies.” – Alan Laird, SHS Lab Director

SHS received the BD Max today, May 14th, with an initial order of 240 test kits and more on order. The sophisticated equipment requires calibration by the manufacturer once installed and it is anticipated to take several days before it is ready for patient testing. As soon as the equipment is validated and ready to process patient tests, a second press release will be issued.

“The outpouring of support for Southwest Heath System from the community has been amazing. With the leadership of Dr. Akin, the Southwest Memorial Hospital Foundation has received more than $65,000 in commitments to the BD Max Lab analyzer and on April 7th, the Montezuma Board of County Commissioners approved another $36,000 toward the purchase covering the full expense of the purchase and setup of the BD Max Analyzer. I cannot express enough how much this support means to SHS and our staff. It is a great feeling to know the community recognizes our efforts and truly appreciates what the staff are sacrificing to help the community.” – SHS CEO Tony Sudduth

New Primary Care Providers are Welcomed to Southwest Medical Group

Nick Preston started his career in Nursing 11 years ago and has been a Nurse Practitioner for the last 8 years. Nick completing graduate school in 2012 from University of Colorado School of Medicine and is most passionate about empowering his patients to improve their health through lifestyle modifications and/or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, closely observing patients and remaining open-minded on how best to care for each patient individually. Preston is looking forward to growing his practice and becoming more connected to the Southwest Colorado community and being a part of the Southwest Medical Group team, he has been practicing in the Four Corners area at surrounding facilities and knows our community well. Nick likes to spend his free time with his family and enjoying the outdoors.

Caitlin Mooney is a board-certified Physician Assistant. She received her graduate degree from Red Rock Community College and participated in a Colorado rural Physician Assistant program (RRCC) and received the “Mission Award” for her graduating class.

Mooney will bring her energetic and organized personality to build her practice. She uses empathy and humor when interacting with her patients and focuses on fostering preventative healthcare options including individual plans to help patients move their body in whatever way works for them. Mooney is excited to be a part of Southwest Medical Group looking to be a dependable and engaged member of the team. She is passionate about “sun safety”, specifically educating and focusing on skin cancer prevention in our “sunny” climate.

Caitlin likes to spend her free time with her husband and two dogs playing in the desert one day and being in the most beautiful mountain town the next. She’s recently learned to ski and mountain bike and generally enjoying the outdoors (with SPF of course).

Erick Ireland is a Certified Physician Assistant who has been working in Southwest Colorado for the last 3 years. Erick was a part of a Colorado program which focuses wholly on developing primary care providers in rural Colorado. Ireland is looking forward to building his practice with SHS and developing a presence as a solid primary care provider focusing on individualized and compassionate care by empathizing with patients and communicating effectively so they can reach their healthcare goals. He likes to spend his free time in the backcountry of southwest Colorado spending the weekends hiking, biking and paddling.

SHS Prepares to Reopen Elective Services May 4th

Southwest Health System, Inc. is preparing to reopen services closed after the first positive COVID test in Montezuma County was announced. SHS is developing comprehensive plans to reopen elective surgeries and some preventative procedures beginning Monday, May 4th. SHS will be opening Elective Surgery & Diagnostic Imaging patients as well as Physical Therapy, and other services below starting May 4th.


  • Surgery and Imagining patients will come in through the main hospital lobby entrance.
  • Physical Therapy will be expanding their services accessible through Medical Office Building entrance beginning May 4th.
  • Traveling Specialty providers, including Cardiology, Urology, and Interventional Spine Care
  • Our comprehensive Infusion Center is offering allergy shots see
  • Children’s Vaccine Clinic every Thursday in May at MOB entrance – VFC/all insurances accepted.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released general guidelines with the following qualifications. SHS is able to meet all these needs. Our decisions are consistent with public health information and in collaboration with state public health authorities. All aspects of care are being considered such as availability of PPE, workforce, testing, and supplies.

“SHS understands that our patients have healthcare needs beyond just addressing COVID-19.  We feel that it is critical that the needs be met. We are confident we can do this while assuring it’s done in a very safe and controlled environment protecting our staff and patients,” said SHS CEO Tony Sudduth.

As services are reopening, the ability to care for COVID-19 patients will continue in the Inpatient and Outpatient settings.  Based on the number of active cases and if those cases are increasing, services could be decreased again.


Patients are strongly encouraged to wear their mask, or they will be provided one for the duration of their visit. Visitor restrictions remain in place. The most current information will be available on SHS’s Facebook page and For all other hospital-based services, such as Laboratory and Emergency Room care, please use the Emergency Room entrance.


Visitor restrictions will remain in place until further notice and will be continually reevaluated.