Skagit County was still waiting Tuesday for the approval from the state Department of Health to move into the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Plan, and area hospitals have a role in showing that the area is ready.
Island Hospital staff worked with Skagit County Public Health and other county officials to prepare the application for Phase 2, something it had to do twice after rules changed at the state level, hospital CEO Charles Hall said.
The hospital must be ready for a 20% surge on its inpatient floors and be ready to accept patients if there is a spike in symptoms and positive cases of COVID-19.
It also has to prove it has a 14-day supply of personal protection equipment for health professionals, support staff, administrators and visitors, Hall said.
The hospital needs to report daily to the state Department of Health about its positive cases and its amount of PPE, Hall said.
Island Hospital also provides community support in terms of public education and reminding people to stay socially distant and continue to wear masks when near others, Hall said.
Meanwhile, the hospital continues to re-open its services as patient volume dictates.
“We are seeing a steady return of patients to all our services,” Hall said.
The walk-in clinic and the cardiac rehab department are the only two services not currently offered at the hospital, he said. Those should be open later this month.
The hospital is also easing its visitor policy and allowing more people to visit inpatients and additional support people for those in the birth center.
Still, with the increase, the hospital isn’t seeing the numbers it did before the pandemic. That won’t happen for “several months,” Hall said.
The hospital is focusing on its own fiscal health while waiting for that return in volume, he said. It is bringing back its staff incrementally to help control expenses while revenues are down.
In May, revenue was 43% lower than anticipated, and the hospital was expected to lose about $1.7 million over the course of the month, according to COO Elise Cutter.
Revenues will remain lower for the next month or so, even as patients return, because of the time between services, billing and payment, she said.