By CEO Charles Hall

I am thankful for the friends and neighbors who are following stay-at-home, social-distancing and other pandemic-necessitated precautions to keep the COVID-19 infection rate so low in our community. You are making a difference, and I encourage you to keep it going. We’ll all have a better summer if we can maintain our precautions until our governor and mayor lift this directive.

Skagit County Public Health is setting up a COVID-19 testing station on the Skagit Valley College campus in Mount Vernon. The planned start date is April 27 and, at first, will focus on high-risk populations (over 65 years old or existing chronic medical condition) and those with mild symptoms.

Public Health’s primary focus is to provide surveillance of threats to our public health and lead collaborative efforts to minimize these. This testing site does not replace the testing done at hospitals and clinics, but will help expand testing to reach more community members.

Island Hospital’s primary focus is to treat diagnose and treat symptomatic patients. Adults with serious symptoms such as a fever higher than 100 degrees, cough or shortness of breath should contact their medical provider or seek care through one of the respiratory clinics in Skagit County. For those experiencing symptoms, we have a Respiratory Clinic in Anacortes at 2601 M Ave. Report your symptoms to the hospital call center at 360-293-3101 and a triage nurse will guide you. Other respiratory clinics in Skagit County can be found on the Public Health website.

As of April 21, Island Hospital has tested 494 patients with 24 positive (4.9%) results. Five were tested through our emergency department, six as inpatients and 13 as outpatients. Skagit County reported 255 positive results with 36 patients hospitalized, seven deaths and 87 patients recovered so far.

The state and federal governments have issued a three-phased approach to lift restrictions and reopen hospital services. For this to happen there must be a sustained downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period. However, our county continues to see an increased trend in new cases.

Please remember, it’s important to continue to social distance and wear masks when in public places. Following these precautions will help “flatten the curve” of new cases and start us back on track to opening our restaurants and other businesses.

We continue to expand telemedicine appointments for patients of our primary and specialty clinics, with more than 20 providers participating and more being added each week. Call your clinic or visit www.islandhospital.org for information. We expect to maintain this service after the pandemic to improve access and convenience for our patients.

Please stay safe, stay well, and please stay at home except when necessary.

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