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Guest column: Samaritan Healthcare responding to COVID-19

by Samaritan Healthcare
| May 13, 2020 11:41 PM

We know that many families in our community have had their lives turned upside down in the last month. The COVID-19 virus has challenged our community in ways we would have never imagined. Everyone knows someone who has either contracted the virus, become unemployed, or whose children can no longer attend their school. Many of you are wondering about your family member’s COVID-19 test results, your rent, your mortgage, when your unemployment benefits will start and whether you will be able to feed your family. Unfortunately, Samaritan had to cancel all non-emergency surgeries and perhaps we postponed your annual wellness visit, your non-emergency medical testing and your rehabilitation therapy sessions, too.

But we want you to know what the team at Samaritan has done to respond to COVID-19. In early March, a team composed of doctors, leaders and clinical staff established the Respiratory Virus Evaluation Center (RVEC) at the Samaritan Clinic on Pioneer Way. At this central evaluation point, Samaritan has evaluated and tested over 300 patients for COVID-19 while preventing the spread of the virus to other patients. The RVEC and our Urgent Care department are open seven days a week on Pioneer Way, and Urgent Care at the Patton Clinic remains open Monday through Friday. As of April 1, the team at Samaritan Clinics has established telemedicine or Zoom appointments for family medicine, orthopedics, OB/GYN, behavioral health and nearly all of our care areas.

Following the guidelines established by the CDC, the Washington State Department of Health and the Grant County Public Health District, the plant services team built 22 negative pressure patient rooms that will help stop the spread of any COVID-19 patients admitted to Samaritan. We are constantly monitoring our inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure we can treat all of our community. The emergency management team established an emergency plan to care for a surge of patients that we hope and pray never comes.

Starting in March, every person who comes into Samaritan Hospital or Clinics must now answer some medical screening questions and have their temperature taken. And we mean everyone, whether you are a visitor, a doctor, a nurse, the CEO or the pharmaceutical salesperson. This screening measure keeps each of you safe every time you visit us. In addition, before Samaritan employees can go home for the day, they must submit to the same medical screening. Many Samaritan employees took on new roles because we have temporarily changed how we deliver medical services to our community. Many other employees are working around the clock to plan for taking care of more patients than we ever thought we could handle.

At Samaritan, we are grateful for the donations from individuals of hand-sewn masks and the surplus PPE we have received from local businesses. We are grateful to see so many of you wearing masks in public and keeping social distancing in mind. As you drive to your hospital there is a new donated sign on the lawn that is says it all: there are a lot of heroes working at Samaritan!

Samaritan Healthcare

commissioners

Joseph Akers, president

Alan White, secretary

Dale Paris

Katherine Christian

Tom Frick