It’s important our community knows that our Emergency Department is open and a safe place for anyone needing emergency healthcare. Please don’t neglect your health. We’re here for you.
Before the first case of the Coronavirus was diagnosed in the US, we started to prepare for an epidemic. We then made changes in how we treat patients with COVID-like symptoms even before they entered the hospital. We designated our negative pressure room as a safe way to evaluate and test those patients, we made thoughtful changes to help with social distancing and asked patients who could, to wait in their cars, limiting the amount of people in our Emergency Department waiting area. We found creative and safer ways to communicate with emergency patients: emergency doctors may now communicate with patients with iPads to discuss test results, diagnosis and make treatment recommendations while saving PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
We strategized what the future might look like in the event of a surge. We developed plans to care for COVID-19 patients on ventilators in our emergency department and ICU. We also planned with our regional hospital partners for patient transfers, if needed. With the support of Scott Adams, CEO, the physician leadership of Dr. Cliff Lightfoot and partnership with Palouse Medical, the COVID-19 Triage & Testing Center is a testament to the devotion and teamwork of the care providers in this community. Outside of Spokane, this was the only drive up testing center in Eastern Washington. This allows us to test anyone (meeting the testing criteria) through a safe drive-up visit from the convenience and safety of their car. This also provides a way to conserve our personal protective equipment—a nationwide resource shortage we must manage.
Our test results are following national trends: 3% indicate a positive result for COVID-19 and 97% are negative. This information helps to put into perspective the number of patients infected in our community and monitor those trends. The information is also on our website.
The hotline (509-336-7345) has been a great resource to answer questions and alleviate fears.
I would be remiss to overlook the psychological affect this pandemic has had on patients, our community, and providers and their families on the frontline of healthcare.
“Daddy, please don’t get sick with the Coronavirus at work!” This was the request made by the 5-year-old son of one of our emergency physicians shortly after the first positive case in Whitman County was announced, just before he left home for his shift at the hospital.
When you decide to provide emergency care, there is a certain amount of hazard you knowingly accept. This pandemic has certainly elevated that hazard but we are all doing our part to address that as new information comes in about a virus we’re still understanding.
Pullman Regional Hospital is doing its part to prepare, and I see our community doing its part to help flatten this curve. I am so grateful for the support of our communities and the safe and thoughtful precautions people are taking.
As always, Pullman Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department and Hospital remain open 24/7. We are safely treating our patients. It is why we are here. It is what we’ve always done and will continue to do.
- Dr. Pete Mikkelsen, MD, Pullman Regional Hospital Medical Director of Emergency Services
We know things are looking a little different for our inpatients at Pullman Regional Hospital. It’s not usual circumstances. Much has changed. Nurses and hospitalists might be wearing a mask and a face shield, and visitors are only allowed in the most special of circumstances.
What has not changed is the quality of care we are providing. We are treating all respiratory patients as though they could have COVID-19. We are being vigilant about the potential scarcity of resources, considering how each and every decision we make about the care we provide now could impact the patients we treat one, two, three weeks from now.
There is so much unknown and certainly a heightened sense of fear. We will get through this. We are and will continue to take care of this community. We are so grateful for the funds, flowers, notes, treats, coffees and the hand sewn masks that have been so generously donated. Thank you! We’re here for you. Wash your hands.
- Karen Geheb, Director of Hospitalist Services for Pullman Regional Hospital