Island Hospital is making strong progress in strengthening care for respiratory ill and COVID-19 patients. Many of the initiatives we’ve implemented couldn’t have been done without the generous support of our community and leadership from our Hospital Foundation.

Our entire team is extremely grateful for the community members who have given donations to support our new telemedicine program, a Tele-intensive care unit and purchase of ventilators.

Since our reduction of primary and specialty services, it has been difficult for many patients to receive care with their providers. This week, we are excited to launch our virtual visit (telemedicine) program that will provide primary care, psychiatry/behavioral health and sleep medicine for patients online. This allows patients to virtually meet with their primary care or specialist provider over the internet via telemedicine.

In the coming weeks, more specialty telemedicine services will be expanded, including Tele-ICU services.

Virtual visits will help our critical care program by adding a specialized critical care physician to our ICU via live video camera. Together with Tele-ICU services and eight new ventilators, Island Hospital will strengthen the acute care of the critically ill as well as those who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed new recommendations for wearing protective cloth masks. “The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

To meet this standard, Island Hospital now requires all visitors, vendors, providers and staff to wear masks while at the hospital.

We need your continued support in preventing the spread of this deadly virus. Please maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between others and avoid gatherings. Cough into your elbow, wash your hands regularly and wear a mask while you’re near others.

Homemade masks can be made out of household items. Directions on making cloth facemasks can be found at www.cdc.gov (click on “Coronavirus Disease 2019”, then the “How to protect yourself” buttons). And finally, if you have symptoms of respiratory illness, please call 360-293-3101 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Island Hospital continues to see a steady progression of COVID-19-positive patients at the hospital. Over half of the 18 positive cases are residents of this hospital district.

As of Tuesday, April 7, at Island Hospital:

• Current inpatient positives: 1

• Total to date tested: 349 with 18 positive cases

• Total positive inpatients cases: 4

• Total positive outpatient cases: 12

• Total positive emergency cases: 2

As of April 6, Skagit County had:

• Total positive cases: 166

• Hospitalized cases: 21

• Deaths: 4

I continue to be optimistic that this region will have rapid COVID-19 testing in the near future. Efficiency in testing turnaround has increased to one to two business days. Soon, I anticipate same-day results.

We continue to direct patients to our Respiratory Clinic at 2601 M Ave. for respiratory symptoms. This clinic is averaging 18 patients per day. Should volumes increase, we will expand the hours, but it remains open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We all wonder if these precautions will be our new normal. For the hospital and clinics, I believe that many of these protective practices will remain in effect for months to come, if not longer. It’s extremely important to follow and promote these practices within our community to prevent the spread of this virus.

Our team cannot thank our community enough for the generous outpouring of kind gestures to us at the hospital.

Stay safe, and together we’ll get through this.

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