EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to questions raised in the previous opinion article, Cherie Plaisted provides details and information about Adventist Health’s preparations and readiness to care for our community now, during a pandemic and during any healthcare crisis. Tillamook County Commissioner Mary Faith Bell related this story during this morning’s leadership team meeting: “I’m caring for my mother and she had a regular appointment with her primary care physician at Adventist’s Manzanita Clinic this week. They called to cancel the appointment as she’s in the vulnerable population and they are limiting who they are seeing at the clinics. Instead, her PCP is coming to our home for her appointment. They are making house calls!” This is the type of care that our local community is receiving from healthcare providers during this pandemic. Unlike what’s being reported in other media or that you might hear in the “rumor-mill”, Tillamook County’s healthcare system is prepared and ready to take care of our communities.
By Cherie Sykes Plaisted, Marketing and Communication Manager
The health and safety of our patients, associates and community are our top priority at Adventist Health Tillamook. Our hospital and clinics remain open to provide care for the communities we serve.
Adventist Health Tillamook manages infectious disease on a regular basis. We maintain intensive care and isolation rooms and have processes in place for safely and effectively treating patients with infectious diseases. While the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic is unusual, the steps we take to care for patients during this time are standard for a communicable disease.
We continue to prepare for a possible surge in patients due to COVID-19. We have enough supplies on hand to care for patients and are ready to adapt supplies and beds to an increase in patients.
Below are a few changes we have made over the past few weeks to adapt to the current pandemic and to keep our community and associates safe:
- We have established a Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) to plan, resource and respond effectively during the pandemic. The HICS works in conjunction with the Adventist Health system wide HICS and Tillamook County Emergency Management.
- Ongoing training on the proper use of personal protective equipment as well as on protocols for the identification, testing and treatment of patients with COVID-19-like symptoms.
- Enhanced disinfection procedures that go beyond our standard, already rigorous, procedures.
- We have enough supplies on hand to care for COVID-19 patients, and since Adventist Health Tillamook is part of a system of hospitals, we have access to additional supplies, beds and expertise should we need it.
- We have established an Urgent Care and Emergency Room checkpoint to continue providing essential services while reducing the risk of exposure to the community. This checkpoint is available from 8:00 a.m. to midnight.
- Implemented screening for everyone entering our hospital or clinics. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100 degrees or experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms are sent to the Urgent Care and Emergency Room Checkpoint.
- We have implemented a no visitor restrictions policy except for pediatric, OB and hospice.
- Non-essential clinic visits have been rescheduled. Our primary care clinics are still accepting patients with essential medical needs and our urgent care clinics are still accepting walk-in patients.
- We have established a coronavirus advice line staffed by clinicians. The advice line is available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at 844-542-8840.
- Our website is available to prepare and educate the community. Coronavirus-specific information can be found at https://www.adventisthealth.org/coronavirus-preparedness/.
As is the case with hospitals across the country, we work closely with local health departments and health authorities. Along with the other hospitals in our state, we rely on the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to report on COVID-19 cases.
Individuals who are experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and have been in contact with someone who likely has an active coronavirus infection should call their primary care provider or clinic before coming in. If medically necessary, the primary care provider will give patients instructions on how to get tested and limit the risk of exposure to others. Adventist Health Tillamook follows OHA guidelines for testing.
We partner with the OHA, the county health department and others during this crisis. Together, we are all playing an essential role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.