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 As the COVID-19 crisis progresses and we find more infected people in our community, Island Hospital is taking steps to be prepared to do all we can to care for our patients. Current patient-infection modeling predicts a surge in the number of serious COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases that will require hospital care.

We recently had the first positive test within our health system and expect more in the near future. We are seeing an increase in patients seeking care for respiratory illness, and our regional hospital partners are also screening more positive COVID-19 cases.

There is little doubt that our community and our health care workers will be more directly affected in the near future. We will continue to do all we can to assist our staff and community in these challenging times.

Therefore, starting Thursday, Island Hospital will temporarily reduce elective surgical and procedural services. At this time, we cannot say when these services will resume. Together with our Medical Executive Leadership team, we will continuously review the region’s conditions and will work to reschedule cases when the COVID-19 threat diminishes.

Each of the following governing bodies, including American College of Surgeons, U.S. Surgeon General, and Washington State Department of Health, has recommended the cancellation of these types of procedures. Each case will be reviewed on the categories of urgent and emergent conditions.

Services temporarily reduced include:

• General surgery

• Orthopedic

• Gynecology

• Urology

• Sports & Spine procedures and clinic visits

• Outpatient echocardiography

• Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation maintenance

• Colonoscopies and WWMG clinic

• Outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy

• Eye procedures

• Non-urgent family practice clinic visits

• Non-urgent Behavioral Health clinic visits

• Wound care non-urgent and new hyperbaric cases

• Sleep Center clinic and studies

Postponing and rescheduling: Island Hospital staff will reach out to scheduled patients over the coming days to postpone elective procedures.

Revised patient visitation guidelines:

1. Inpatient: No visitors, with the following exceptions, and all inpatient visitor waiting rooms will be closed.

• One support person for laboring moms

• Two support people for end of life

• One support person to help with mobility challenges and discharge instructions

2. Emergency Department: waiting rooms are reserved for patients and one support person

3. Surgery: One family member may help check-in and assist with discharge instructions. No family in waiting room – updates will be provided by phone.

We encourage the use of phone and video calls for patients to stay in touch with their families and keep them informed of their plan of care.

Tele-Medicine platforms are being evaluated to assist in screening and caring for patients while they are at home.

The on-campus respiratory clinic will be opened in coming days to assist in providing specialized care for those experiencing symptoms of cough, shortness of breath and fever.

A phone triage help line will be rolled out to assist our community with their healthcare respiratory illness needs. A phone number will be provided soon. Check our hospital website and Facebook page.

Medical provider volunteers: We are working to find volunteer healthcare providers to support our efforts should they be needed. If there is interest from regional healthcare providers in the community, they should contact Terry Halemba at thalemba@islandhospital.org.

We appreciate the many Island Hospital employees who have tirelessly worked to prepare our hospital to meet the critical needs we foresee. We intend to continue our excellent work to provide the very best standards of care for all of our patients during this time.

With the closure of schools, discontinuance of sporting and other events, closing of businesses and gatherings, we all need to stay vigilant. The term “social distancing” has become part of our regular conversations and, hopefully, a regular practice for all over the next few weeks. Distancing ourselves from others can prevent infection of COVID-19 and slow spread of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people to get tested if they have certain symptoms — including fever, cough and trouble breathing – and have traveled recently to a coronavirus-outbreak area or had close contact with someone who’s been infected. If you have symptoms, call your healthcare provider for instructions.

Please look to our hospital website and Facebook page for updates.

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