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Health Providers Work To Steer Patients To Non-Office Visits

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane area health providers are trying to steer their patients to online and virtual modes of care when possible.

“We have announced to our staff and our patients today that, by Wednesday, in two days, we will be all virtual first," said Dr. David Ward, the acting medical director for Kaiser Permanente in Spokane. “What that means is virtual, virtual, virtual. All of our patients have the ability to call teams of nurses and doctors that are standing by 24/7 to take care of all of our patients’ medical needs, virtually first.”

Ward says Kaiser will route the patients who need immediate attention by doctors to its Riverfront Clinic downtown.

Other providers are going the non-office visit route as well. Representatives from several health systems held a press conference Monday to share the steps they’re taking to protect their workforce and patients from the coronavirus.

Peg Currie, the COO at Providence Sacred Heart, says hospitals are becoming more selective as to who should be in their facilities.

“You know, visitor restrictions are going to be a little bit dicey for some individuals that really think they need to come in and see their friend or their grandma. We’d like to ask for some calm regarding that," Currie said. "I know things are sensitive regarding visitors and visiting loved ones in the hospital, but if you think about the social distancing that you heard Dr. Lutz talk about, I don’t think coming to the hospital is probably the best place to socially distance yourself.”

These representatives are reinforcing the basic hygiene messages: wash your hands frequently and stay home when you’re sick.