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Samaritan Healthcare to resume offering all services

by Cheryl Schweizer
Staff Writer | May 20, 2020 12:14 AM

MOSES LAKE — Samaritan Hospital will start performing non-emergency surgeries and offering other services, following the May 18 expiration of an order by Gov. Jay Inslee.

He had restricted surgeries and other procedures at medical facilities statewide on March 18 in an effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Surgeries and medical visits deemed non-essential by state officials were prohibited.

Glenda Bishop, administrator of Quincy Valley Medical Center, said the order didn’t have much effect in Quincy, since QVMC doesn’t have a surgical program and has continued providing most of its services since March.

“We are hoping that the reopening for non-emergency procedures will give patients a sense of greater comfort to seek care for health conditions they may have been ignoring or putting off because of concerns related to COVID and the shutdown of elective procedures,” Bishop said.

Samaritan’s chief medical officer, Andrea Carter, said people obeyed instructions to defer treatment.

The original guidelines directed that people should defer care if they could wait without doing them harm. But if a patient’s condition gets worse because they’re deferring care, that’s harm, she said.

“They (patients) are sicker. They’re sicker now than they would’ve been,” Carter said.

All services for patients will be allowed to restart, including surgeries, lab testing, diagnostic imaging, physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation. But some policies designed to combat the outbreak will remain for now.

All people entering Samaritan Hospital, the Pioneer Way clinic or Patton Boulevard clinic will be screened, Carter said. Social distancing guidelines will remain, and all workers who come into contact with patients will wear masks.

Bishop said QVMC patients are screened at the registration desk for each department. Anyone accompanying the patient has his or her temperature taken.

The COVID-19 testing facility at the Pioneer clinic will remain open.

“Hopefully, in the not too distant future we’re going to establish drive-in testing,” Carter said.

There is no date for that yet.

Samaritan officials expanded telemedicine services for primary-care cases.

“We’re still doing a lot of our visits by telemedicine,” Carter said.

She expects the telemedicine trend to continue, if hospitals receive adequate reimbursement.

“I think a hybrid model (telemedicine and in-person visits) is what patients should expect to see,” she said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.