Island Hospital erected medical tents to control spread of COVID-19

Island Hospital has erected medical tents and will screen patients and visitors at the entrances as a safety measure to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. 

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Three people who received in-car screening at Island Hospital late last week have since tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

All three were tested and then sent home to recover, hospital CEO Charles Hall said Thursday. One lives out-of-county, and two are Anacortes residents.

None came inside the hospital for screening or care, he said.

Countywide, the Skagit Public Health website on Thursday reported 14 confirmed cases, of which two were hospitalized, and zero deaths.

Island Hospital is offering in-car screening and set up a new respiratory clinic at 2601 M Ave. to help screen, evaluate and treat respiratory symptoms.

A call center is also available to answer questions and concerns associated with COVID-19. The number is 360-293-3101 and is staffed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. That call center will also help triage people and tell them if they need to come in for a screening at the hospital, hospital Interim COO Ann Raish said.

“We can get them scheduled for an appointment at the respiratory clinic if needed,” she said.

The call center will also help answer people’s questions about possible exposure and symptoms, she said.

A call ahead not only prepares those who are doing the testing but also notifies hospital staff of patient symptoms, Raish said.

When arriving at the clinic, the first step is screening people in their cars, Hall said. The respiratory clinic is then there for treatment and additional screening if necessary. Then the tests are placed inside of a special liquid and sent to either LabCorp or the University of Washington, Hall said.

Results generally come back in two to four business days.

The hospital is also readying its tents outside the emergency department. The tents have been up for over a week. Now, staff is preparing them for patients.

“We are testing the model so when we need it, we are ready to open it up rapidly,” Hall said.

The emergency department is still available for all emergent health needs, Hall said. The new clinic on M Avenue is for those who are dealing specifically with respiratory problems.

The hospital is also focusing on finances. Staff is working with public officials such as U.S. Rep. Rick Larson and with the Washington State Hospital Association to try to secure federal funding as a relief for growing costs and waning revenues.

The hospital also recently launched a relief fund through the Island Hospital Foundation.

Earlier this week, it made the call to reduce elective procedures and appointments as a way to keep patients and employees safe.

That reduction means a roughly 75% revenue loss for the nonprofit hospital.

The relief fund will help not only pay for care now, which is getting more expensive with the complexities of COVID-19, but also as a fund for the hospital moving forward, Hall said.

Sustainability is key, he said.

“It will help up stand up our services again as a hospital system when we are able to do so,” Hall said.

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