Hospitals on the North Olympic Peninsula have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide care safely to those who have respiratory complaints and those with other illnesses.
Changes include video-audio consultations, increased symptom screenings, separate waiting rooms for respiratory patients and phone consultations.
Olympic Medical Center (OMC) in Port Angeles and Sequim, Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend and Forks Community Hospital on the West End have implemented screenings for those entering hospitals and clinics and triaging them to keep possible COVID-19 patients away from those suffering from other illnesses.
Patients who have respiratory difficulties or COVID-19 symptoms are placed in separate waiting rooms from other patients, officials said.
OMC makes available video-audio consultations for patients with respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19 patients, if they are reluctant to come into the hospital or clinic, said Dr. Josh Jones, chief physician officer.
“The best care is still in clinic, face-to-face,” Jones said. “We can see anyone at our primary care or specialty clinics.”
Hospital officials said they have experienced some patients delaying needed medical care because of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order and the fear that they could contract COVID-19.
Added screenings, separated waiting rooms and added sanitation practices have been put in place to provide barriers to contamination.
Getting medical care is still essential, and patients shouldn’t have to fear going to hospitals to get care and put off needed medical appointments, officials said.
“That was never the intent of the stay-at-home order. We need to continue to provide medical care,” Jones said. “We’re working close with our county public health officer and the other clinics to provide the same standards for patient care, and we are succeeding.”