(Update: Outpatient Rehabilitation still closed, likely until April 27)
E-visits, video and phone visits preferred method of contact
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, St. Charles Health System said Wednesday its outpatient clinics have transformed the way they care for patients to minimize physical contact, including the addition of "surge tents" much as now located at the region's hospitals.
Caregivers from the health system and its provider network, St. Charles Medical Group, have been working around the clock in recent days to implement the changes, which officials said are designed to protect patients and caregivers, preserve critical medical supplies and conserve space in facilities in case of a surge of COVID-19 patients.
“Given the highly infectious nature of this virus, we are trying to limit any exposures and interactions between patients and providers by delivering services at curbside or remotely whenever possible,” said Dr. Robert Ross, medical director for St. Charles Medical Group. “That means registering, getting a history and updating information in advance over the phone, then determining what interaction is absolutely necessary.”
St. Charles will continue to provide both patients and providers with protection when necessary to prevent transmission of disease, Ross said.
Following interactions, the clinics will minimize hand-to-hand contact by giving patients results and instructions verbally, sending prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically and providing other essential direction through the health system’s online care portal, MyChart.
“This workflow will keep patients and providers much safer and isolates the interaction from any other patients and clinic staff,” Ross said.
Patients without a MyChart account are strongly encouraged to sign up for one today at stcharleshealthcare.org. COVID-19 test results are sent to patients via MyChart as soon as they are available. These tests are sent to centralized labs and results can take up to seven to nine days due to nationwide shortages.
Here’s more detail on each of the new services:
St. Charles Family Care patients can now schedule e-visits with their provider through MyChart. E-visits allow patients to enter information about their symptoms. The provider then reviews that information and can reply via MyChart with advice, a referral or a prescription. E-visits are only for non-urgent medical conditions, as it may take up to two days to receive a response. If you need urgent medical care, please contact your clinic by phone or go to a nearby urgent care center. E-visits are free and available to established patients of St. Charles Family Care and Internal Medicine clinics. An active MyChart account is required.
Patients who want to speak with a doctor can choose to schedule a phone visit. Phone visits are exactly as they sound: The patient can speak with their doctor on the phone, ask questions and receive advice, all without making a trip to the clinic. To schedule a phone visit, call the clinic and request an appointment.
For a face-to-face experience, patients can now schedule a video visit with a physician. Video visits offer the same convenience as phone visits, but with a video connection for the most personal remote experience possible. Video visits require the patient to download the Zoom app on their personal device. To schedule a video visit, call the clinic and request an appointment.
Surge tents going up
In an effort to care for symptomatic patients while practicing social distancing, four St. Charles Medical Group clinics will soon have surge tents set up outside their facilities.
On Wednesday, tents will open at Bend South Immediate Care (61250 S.E. Coombs Place) and La Pine Immediate Care (51781 Huntington Road). Because they are set up at Immediate Care clinics, these two locations are open to all symptomatic patients.
St. Charles Medical Group is also ready to open tents at Bend East Family Care (2600 N.E. Neff Road) and Redmond Family Care (211 N.W. Larch Avenue) in response to a rise in patient volume. When opened, these two locations will care for any symptomatic patient who is established with a St. Charles primary care or specialty care provider.
Symptomatic patients with the following symptoms may be directed to a tent:
- Fever of 100.4 or greater within the last 24 hours
- Shortness of breath
However, due to the nationwide shortage of testing supplies, patients will not be tested for COVID-19 unless the following criteria are also met:
- Over the age of 60
- Patient is immunocompromised
- Chronic disease of one of the following:
- Cardiovascular system
- Pulmonary system
- Diabetes mellitus
There are also two tents set up outside Pilot Butte Medical Center (2275 N.E. Doctors Drive, Bend) and the Redmond Heart and Lung Center (244 N.W. Kingwood Avenue) to see patients beginning Wednesday. These tents are for high-risk patients, as identified by the anticoagulation care team, to receive International Normalized Ratio (INR) checks.
Pulmonary Clinic to offer drive-up appointments at St. Charles Bend
To continue to serve people with lung disease, lung injury, asthma and impaired pulmonary function, the Pulmonary Clinic at St. Charles Bend will open a drive-up clinic on Monday and Wednesday afternoons starting Wednesday, March 25.
The drive-up clinic will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. To schedule a drive-up appointment, call the Pulmonary Clinic at 541-706-7715.
St. Charles Outpatient Rehabilitation extends closure to April 27
St. Charles Outpatient Rehabilitation remains closed, with a tentative plan to reopen services on MOnday, April 27.
The goal continues to be to limit the number of people visiting St. Charles facilities in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
The Outpatient Rehabilitation team will continue to monitor and assess the status of the situation on a weekly basis and is exploring the possibility of offering telehealth services in the near future. Patients impacted by the extended closure will be notified by the Outpatient Rehabilitation team.
About St. Charles Health System
St. Charles Health System, Inc., headquartered in Bend, owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. It also owns family care clinics in Bend, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,200 caregivers. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with the health system to provide a wide range of care and service to our communities.