Dear Community Member:
As the entire world grapples with this an unprecedented health crisis, we wanted to let you know how we are preparing for the expected surge in COVID-19 patients locally. The Samaritan Health Services COVID-19 task force is working around the clock to develop new policies and protocols to deal with this crisis. We are posting those policies, along with other information that we believe is helpful to the community, on www.samhealth.org/coronavirus.
Specifically, Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital has done the following:
- Canceled elective surgeries and non-emergent clinic visits to help ensure facilities and staff are available for a surge in COVID-19 patients and that plenty of personal protective equipment, like masks, will continue to be available.
- Identified areas of the hospital that can be used to care for inpatients, such as clinic exam rooms, sleep lab rooms, Emergency Department (ED) treatment areas and Surgery Department prep and recovery rooms. The capacity in these areas greatly increased in the new hospital – the old clinic wing had 10 exam rooms and the new one has close to 50; the old hospital used 2 of the regular inpatient rooms for sleep lab, the new one has 2 distinct rooms; the old ED had 8 treatment rooms and the new one has 17; the old Surgery Department did not have private prep and recovery rooms and the new hospital has 13. In addition, all of the inpatient rooms are spacious enough to add a second bed. We have identified at least 150+ areas that could house a patient, even if on cots; however, at that point, our challenge would be having enough staff to care for that many patients.
- Using a large tent for screening visitors outside of the hospital, as of March 23. (The tent was purchased in 2017 as we prepared for the surge of visitors during the eclipse.)
- Canceled all activities at the Center for Health Education, making that entire facility available for alternative uses and protecting the public from group gatherings.
- Increased stock of personal protective equipment to keep health care workers safe so that we can respond to the needs of our patients. At this time, this is our highest concern as we’ve watched our Seattle-area neighbors run dangerously low or run out of this equipment and many distributors have no additional supplies available, so we are in conservation mode.
- Setting up drive-through testing locations in Samaritan service areas for outpatient testing. The COVID-19 testing available across Oregon has been limited because of few testing laboratories and decreased availability of testing supplies. Up until this point we have only tested very sick patients staying in our hospital. However, now we are working with clinicians who feel that their patients are meeting criteria for outpatient testing. There is a mobile unit set up next to the Depoe Bay Clinic where patients who have orders from their clinicians can quickly and safely be tested from their vehicles.
Plans are updated daily, sometimes minute by minute, as new information becomes available. Because information changes rapidly, we will continue to post information on www.samhealth.org. A good source of current, accurate information from across Oregon (including the number of cases and the counties in which those cases reside) is https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19. Along with creating a webpage dedicated to providing information about COVID-19 to the public, SHS sends email communications directly to all Samaritan patients, posted updates as they are available on hospital Facebook pages, issued news releases to all local media outlets, responded to reporters’ questions, participated in informational videos, addressed the issue on local live radio broadcasts, and is communicating honestly and often with all staff. Plus, we will post a weekly letter on this site.
We are forever grateful for the generosity of our community in passing the bond measure to ensure that we have a modern, expanded facility in which to face this crisis. Trying to care for the expected surge of patients in the old facility is unimaginable.
Thank you for your part in helping to make the new facility possible!
Lesley Ogden, MD, CEO
Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital
and Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital
Ralph Breitenstein, MD, Chair
Pacific Communities Health District