We are extremely grateful for those who have supported us through these challenging times. I want to thank the “Anacortes Strong” community group that raised funds to support local businesses and feed our team. I also want to thank all those who made cloth masks for our staff. Over 400 masks have been made by about 40 dedicated community members, helping us protect ourselves and others as we fight this virus.

As of April 14, the COVID-19 pandemic results for Skagit County are:

• Total positive cases: 193

• Total hospitalized: 24

• Total deaths: 6

• Total recoveries: 55

As of April 14, Island Hospital COVID-19 results are:

• Total positive cases: 20 (10.4% of Skagit Co.)

• Total positive hospitalized cases: 4 (16.7% of Skagit Co.)

• Total deaths: 0

There have been many questions about testing at Island Hospital. “Who is eligible and what is the turnaround times for test results” are some common questions we receive.

Our Emergency Department, Respiratory Clinic and primary-care clinics follow CDC guidelines for who should be tested. The core symptoms remain fever, cough and shortness of breath along with a provider’s evaluation.

The CDC gives guidance to the priority of the test to hospitalized patients, healthcare professionals and first responders with symptoms and high-risk patients over age 65 with symptoms and underlying conditions. Island Hospital uses several lab vendors for test results. Recently, turnaround times for testing has ranged from one to three days.

As we test, precautions are taken to protect others in the community, hospital visitors and staff who come to our facilities. Personal protective gear is worn by those performing tests, and tests are done in the patient’s car if possible.

To date, guidelines have not been expanded to open up testing to asymptomatic or patients with additional symptoms. We are working with Skagit County Public Health and our two other county hospitals to increase testing to more than those three symptoms.

This past weekend, I traveled out to the grocery story to purchase our weekly food for my family. It was tough to see that many community members were not wearing masks or keeping distance from others. Though this virus has not directly affected many of our residents, it has impacted our hospital team who has worked tirelessly to fight this battle.

I need your help in wearing a mask and keeping your distance from others while you are around others in our community. These actions will help protect our region and our health-care workers.

Island Hospital is pleased to share that our telemedicine program continues to expand. We offer primary care, behavioral health, sports and spine and sleep tele-services. These virtual visits are rewarding for the patient and provider to ensure our patients are receiving appropriate, ongoing care. Please visit www.islandhospital.org for information or to schedule an appointment. Or contact our Call Center at 360-293-3101 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to make an appointment. Please stay healthy and don’t hesitate to call your provider if you have symptoms or any irregularities.

Unfortunately, due to daily low volumes, we have temporarily closed The Walk-In Clinic at Island Hospital.

Same-day care is available at Anacortes Family Medicine (AFM) and Fidalgo Medical Associates (FMA), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (AFM is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; FMA is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.) Make appointments through the Call Center (360-293-3101). Our Respiratory Clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

As we work to understand how we will recover and return to our past daily routines, I do believe we will have a new normal in health care.

In the long term, I believe that protective masks and social distancing will be key in fighting this virus. In the near future, testing will be expanded to those with additional symptoms throughout our county. We continue to look toward our state and federal leaders to adjust guidelines in order to return health care services and welcome many of our team members back to work.

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