As Medical Staff President for Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics, I’d like to share some thoughts on our current situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the most challenging issues a physician faces during this trying time is finding the balance between providing preventive health care while practicing social distancing. On one hand, care provided now may prevent future health care problems; potentially avoiding hospitalization, surgery, etc. On the other hand, because there currently is no official cure or treatment for COVID-19 coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), the best defense we have today is to limit our exposure to the virus.
Our attempt to practice social distancing, however, should not limit communication between you and your provider. Many of our providers are already using Virtual Visits to consult with those patients for whom it is appropriate. So, if you need to be seen, we have the option of interacting with you via video conference if that makes sense. In addition, we are still providing urgent and emergent care every day. We continue to work for the overall health of our patients, so please contact your provider with any questions you would normally ask before the advent of COVID-19.
One of the greatest concerns my colleagues and I have is that medical needs that should be taken care of now, and could be taken care of now, if not addressed will only exacerbate over time. If you are unsure whether you should see your provider, please call and discuss it with your provider directly. If you have MyChart, you have the option to direct message your provider to ask questions, as well. Remember, there is always the option of making an appointment if you and your provider determine the visit should take place in person. We are taking the utmost precautions to keep our employees and our patients safe from exposure to COVID-19.
Rest assured that our hospital is prepared to handle a disaster of monumental proportions at this time. Our incident command team has been thorough in their planning. Preparations in nearly every department (pharmacy, surgery, critical care, outpatient clinics, life flight, telemedicine, etc.) have focused on preparing to care for an influx of very ill COVID-19 patients.
Although it is too early to know for sure, we are hopeful that a massive influx of patients will pass us by. In this case, our services should return to normal as soon as possible. In anticipation there could be a high demand for health care services once this event is over, we are currently exploring ways to extend our normal daytime operating hours to meet your needs.
On a final note, for more information on current recommendations regarding social distancing, provision of health care, and the status of our infection rate in Oregon, I would encourage you to visit the CDC and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) websites, in addition to our own website. Be cautious about accepting health care information from a source that is not credible.
Thank you for trusting us with your health care. As a provider, that is the highest compliment.
Andy Pearson, D.O.
General Surgeon, Medical Staff President