• COVID-19
  • Renown Health

A Year We Will Never Forget - COVID-19 at Renown Health

February 25, 2021

Renown Health logo

A highlight of the hope and determination, including some of the most remarkable and meaningful milestones, that took place at Renown over the past year.

On February 25, 2020, leaders at Renown Health stood up Renown’s Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), which is a standardized system used to organize response personnel and resources, and to manage response operations during emergencies and crises. This precautionary measure was established at Renown as the effects of the novel coronavirus devastated parts of the east coast and other hotspots around the world. While COVID-19 had yet to present itself in Washoe County at this time last year, Renown was prepared and ready for what would come next.

“At Renown, our teams practice emergency preparedness 365 days a year,” said Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, Renown’s President and CEO. “We had been steadfastly watching the impact COVID-19 was having across the world and knew based on our predictive analytics that the virus would impact communities closer to home. Our team took swift action to ensure Renown remained ready and prepared. I am incredibly proud of those who played a role on this emergency and crisis response team for almost a year, for it is their dedication, hard work, and leadership that continues to guide Renown’s ability to provide outstanding care to all in our community through this ongoing pandemic. Their efforts contribute to a safer and healthier Nevada for all of us.” 

“2020 was a year no one will forget. For everyone- and for our healthcare workers at Renown, the year presented countless challenges and opportunities. Those of us who choose healthcare as our life’s work answer a true calling to serve others; this field requires a self-less commitment and a tireless dedication to caring for people when they are at their most vulnerable,” said Renown’s Chief of Staff, Sy Johnson. “I applaud the entire HICS team, as well as every Renown physician, nurse and health care hero for their valor, their strength and perseverance in serving our patients and community during these unprecedented times.” 

What follows are highlights of some of the most remarkable moments and events that have taken place under the direction of Renown’s Health Incident Command team over the past year. 

Temporary Deployable Medical Structure Outside Renown Regional Emergency Department

On March 12, 2020, Renown erected a deployable medical facility to serve as a respiratory illness evaluation and screening center for Emergency Room patients at Renown Regional Medical Center. A similar tent was also set up outside the Emergency Room at South Meadows Medical Center. An additional layer of protection, this proactive measure helped to care for people with symptoms of respiratory illness, and to protect patients and staff in the Emergency Department and other areas of the hospital. The tents were dismantled on January 20, 2021 as
the number of COVID cases in our community continued to decrease. (See photo here.)

Alternate Care Site at Mill Street Parking Structure at Renown Regional

As many communities across the nation experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases, including significant surges in hospitalized patients, Renown’s HICS team had the foresight to create an Alternate Care Site (ACS) in the Renown Regional Medical Center Mill Street Parking structure. The ACS served additional hospitalized patients and allowed caregivers to remain on campus and still have access to existing hospital infrastructure such as lab, pharmacy, imaging, food services and other critical services. This solution also supported an efficient level of care escalation and other emergent interventions as needed. After just 10 days of intricate construction, including flooring, electrical infrastructure, lighting, water, technology and wall partitions, the ACS was completed on April 3, 2020 with space to hold up to 1,400 patients. On Nov. 12, 2020, Renown opened the ACS to serve additional hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who were clinically stable or improving. Healthcare workers at Renown cared for hundreds of patients in this site. In early Jan. 2021, the remaining patients returned home. The Site remains in place and will reopen if needed. (Alternate Care Site B-Roll.)

“LOVE” Makes its Way to Renown

On April 16, 2020, during a time of darkness and uncertainty, Artown loaned the “LOVE” sculpture, a one-ton, welded-aluminum artwork created by artist Laura Kimpton and fabricated by Jeff Schomberg to Renown, where it lit up Regional Medical Center’s main entrance on Mill St. The sculpture formerly debuted at Burning Man in 2019. On July 13, 2020, thanks to the support of former board chair and community supporter, Blake Smith and the Keyser Foundation, “LOVE” continues to glow in Renown’s signature purple every evening, shining brightly for patients, employees, visitors and passersby to enjoy. Throughout the pandemic, this sculpture has served as a source of inspiration, hope and positivity for our community. (LOVE sign B-Roll.)

Evolving in an Ever-Changing World: Long-Term Remote Work for Renown Employees

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed healthcare leaders throughout the world to determine how best to provide care in this ever-changing environment. Leaders in Renown’s Human Resources department evaluated the thoughts and opinions of employees working remotely throughout Renown Health. Due to the positive feedback from employees, including decreased commute times, fewer distractions, improved work-life balance and a reduced carbon footprint, over 700 Renown employees will continue working remotely.

Renown Offers In-House COVID Testing

In June 2020, the Renown Laboratory team sprang into action to help meet Washoe County residents and businesses’ growing demand for COVID-19 testing. Renown invested in expanded staffing and in-house testing capabilities to be able to swab and process up to 1,000 COVID tests for patients each day, with return of results within hours. Renown’s CEO, Dr. Tony Slonim also collaborated with the Mayor’s COVID-19 Task Force, local faith and community leaders beginning in Oct. of 2020 to address health equity by providing free COVID-19 testing for communities of color. (Lab B-Roll).

Renown Administers COVID-19 Vaccines to Health Care Staff and Local Seniors

On Dec. 17, 2020, in accordance with national, state and county health guidelines, Renown began to vaccinate its health care workers. Among those receiving the first vaccines were Luis Martinez, a technician on Renown’s Clinical Decision Unit who cared for patients recovering from COVID-19 in the Alternate Care Site field hospital; and many clinical leaders and partners. (Front-Line Staff Vaccination B-Roll.)

After several weeks of successful employee and volunteer drive-thru vaccination events, Renown supported the Washoe County Health District and the state in vaccinating Washoe County’s first group of seniors aged 70+. To date, Renown has provided more than 30,000 seniors and health care heroes with their 2 dose vaccinations. (Community Vaccination B-Roll.)

An Extraordinary Year of Service

As our community experiences fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations and the vaccine is available to more individuals, Renown’s steadfast commitment to keeping our community safe remains the same.

“We thank the community for standing by us and helping us all emerge as stronger people with hope for the future. We continue to fight the good fight,” said Dr. Slonim. “With COVID now imbedded into our daily lives, it’s remarkable to reflect on the progress we’ve made and the obstacles we’ve overcome. I will be forever grateful for the precautionary measures, innovation, and acts of service and love implemented by our dedicated team over the past 12 months. We hope by demonstrating our caring values and exhibiting hope and determination, we are inspiring others.” 


About Renown Health

Renown Health is the region’s largest, locally owned and governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,000 employees, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination and innovation. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest, locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Clinical institutes include: Cancer, Heart and Vascular Heath and Neurosciences. Renown is currently enrolling participants in the world’s largest community-based genetic population health study, the Healthy Nevada Project® . For more information, visit renown.org.

Media Contact

Renown Public Relations

Email Us! news@renown.org