BAKER CITY:  Healthcare update from Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke’s

BAKER CITY: Healthcare update from Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke’s

Saint Alphonsus Baker City and St. Luke’s Eastern Oregon Medical Associates

Important COVID-19 Coronavirus Community Update

The clinical and administrative leaders for both healthcare systems in Baker City have been working together tirelessly over the past several weeks to prepare for the anticipated consequences of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus.

We are aware that misinformation can spread quickly through word of mouth and social media, and we would like to present a unified message to the residents of Baker County.  Our highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of our community, including community members and health care workers.

We urge community members to comply with the Governor’s “stay at home” order.  If you have minor upper respiratory symptoms and can manage your symptoms at home, please stay home and self-isolate.

Regarding testing:

Testing supplies for COVID-19 are limited, and testing turnaround times are still in the range of 6-10+ days for results.  Because of these factors, we have been testing only individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for testing.

Over the next several days, Saint Alphonsus Baker City and St. Luke’s EOMA will be working together to staff a centralized “drive-by” clinic where patients with fever and upper respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and cough, can come to be evaluated by a provider.  If, based on this initial assessment, testing is indicated then this can be completed at that time.  If a patient needs to be triaged to a higher level of care such as the ER or hospital, this can also be done at that time.

We urge community members to only visit this resource if they are experiencing shortness of breath, and to understand that likely only a very small number of individuals evaluated in this manner will meet criteria to be tested for COVID-19.  This will allow us to separate potential cases of COVID-19 and other similarly-presenting respiratory viruses from other community members seeking healthcare for non-respiratory related issues.

This will also allow us to preserve personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns, for patients and healthcare workers who are currently experiencing critical shortages of these necessary items.  Details about the location and hours of operation of this resource will be made public as soon as they are available and are expected in the next few days.

Regarding treatment:

Treatments are constantly evolving and both St Luke’s EOMA and Saint Alphonsus Baker City are using the current CDC Recommendations for treatment.  At this time, most known treatments are reserved for only the most critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Regarding plan for care of COVID-19 patients in our community:

Hospital administration and providers have been working for several weeks to make plans to accommodate COVID-19 patients, while reducing the risk of transmission to other patients and healthcare workers.  These plans are ongoing and are taking place with guidance from state authorities and well as incident command from both healthcare systems.  Given the rapid nature of the spread of this new threat, the response will likely continue to change as new information and resources become available.

For accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19 in our community, please turn to these resources:

Oregon Health Authority

Baker County Health Department

Saint Alphonsus Triage hotline (208) 302-2683 between 8:00 am – 8:00 pm (Mountain Time)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention