A COVID-19 Update from the Superintendent

It’s been a few weeks since my last communication to the community, and I’m taking this opportunity to report on and recognize the work of the UW Medicine Lopez Island Clinic. The providers and staff are doing a wonderful job supporting our community as we deal with the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 crisis.

In spite of the challenges and stresses placed on health care systems throughout the country, we are fortunate that our County emergency operations, as well as local providers, staff and EMS teams are doing an exceptional job anticipating and planning for the community’s health care needs. In parallel, we’ve had medical volunteers join the effort, as well as other organizations who have all come together to address the social and economic needs of the community. All in all, it’s been incredible to watch how quickly people and processes have shifted to meet the unexpected challenges we now face, and I remain in awe of the collaboration between community leaders and volunteers.

My last update provided information on the process to be assessed for COVID-19 testing. Testing criteria continue to be based on WA Department of Health recommended testing guidelines, which include testing for the following individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (Fever greater than 100.4F or subjective fever or cough or shortness of breath):

  • Patients who work in any setting where healthcare services are delivered (including: hospital, department of corrections, juvenile detention centers, mental/behavioral health clinics, long-term care facilities, and similar);
  • Patients working in other public safety occupations (e.g., law enforcement, fire fighter, EMS);
  • Patients who live or work in an institutional or congregate setting (e.g., corrections, long term care facility, homeless/shelters);
  • Patients working in critical infrastructure occupations (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacists, restaurants, gas stations, public utilities, etc);
  • Individuals in high risk groups referred by their physician (e.g., elderly , underlying medical conditions, pregnant women); or
  • Any other referred by physician or telemedicine consultation.

Testing continues to be performed outside at the UW Medicine Lopez Island Clinic and sent to the UW Lab. The providers, RNs and staff at the Clinic have done an exceptional job working to ensure adherence and understanding of these protocols. As the assessment process continues to be streamlined it’s best to call 206.520.5000 for the most current procedures.

As is happening across the country, we’ve seen our local clinic begin to shift delivery of care to video appointments, when appropriate. This is often referred to as “telehealth,” and you’ll find it’s similar to an in-person wellness appointment with your doctor. During the visit, you’re able to talk about your current health concerns and learn what to do. The benefit of this type of approach is that it allows contact with your physician without having to be in the clinic. When making a telehealth appointment you will be  provided with instructions on how to connect using a video-based platform to talk with your provider by computer, tablet, or phone.

Locally, we have benefitted from the sharing of knowledge, expertise and resources of UW Medicine. In early March, our local clinic was able to quickly adapt and implement a  telehealth option. Patient feedback suggests a high level of satisfaction with the technology, and the majority of patients have been able to easily access care via a video or audio connection. If you would like to learn more about telehealth in general, you can visit the UW Medicine Telehealth website, or contact your primary care provider to determine how to best access care. You can also go directly to the website for the UW Medicine Lopez Island Clinic HERE to find other COVID-19 resources and information.

In addition to maintaining business operations for the Orcas and Lopez Public Hospital Districts, I’m also part of the Emergency Operations team developing a plan should the County experience a medical surge in COVID-19 cases. San Juan County’s Hot Topic #10 provides insights into the County’s plans to address a possible medical surge. You can read more about those efforts HERE.

While there are many Facebook groups and other sources for information, the County site is the best way to ensure you find accurate reports on local developments, including current positive case counts. The County also provides links to other trusted sources to learn more about the global health emergency, without bias or sensationalism. To access the County’s COVID-19 resources and support click HERE.

I continue to appreciate the collaboration from everyone in our local and regional health care community. I’m seeing tremendous camaraderie across organizations, and I believe we’ll emerge from this difficult period stronger than ever.

Stay Safe. Stay Home.

COVID-19 Update

As a follow-up to this morning’s post, which has generated questions and calls, I wanted to provide a bit of clarification regarding the County Health Officer’s recommendation that consideration be given to a 14-day quarantine for all people returning to the islands from any off island travel, as well as anyone newly arriving to the island.

At this point, it’s important to note that nothing has been enacted. While other areas have enacted such an order, it’s not clear if or when something similar might be enacted in the County.  I will report on any actions as they become available.


COVID-19 Update

As many wake up on Lopez Island this morning you will read about a third positive COVID-19 case in the County. This will hit home as it is the first positive case on Lopez. It’s important to note that the County’s Surveillance team is working closely with this individual to identify possible additional exposure. The good news is that initial signs suggest it appears to be minimal, and the overall high compliance with social distancing is serving to greatly reduce the overall risk to the community.

Read the Press Release HERE.

In addition, the San Juan County Health Officer has developed strict language to be posted at our ferry terminals, and he has the support of the WA State Ferry system to display this Ferry Signage. He is also involved in ongoing discussions to implement a 14 day quarantine for all people returning to the islands from any off island travel, as well as anyone newly arriving who was not on island when the Governor’s order went into effect on March 23rd.

As the Superintendent for the LIHD, I continue to work closely with our County’s Emergency Operations team and am currently focused on plans to address a medical surge. Information on that work will be coming out shortly.

I am also aware of the numerous volunteer efforts underway within the community, and I remain in awe of the way people are coming together to support this tremendous effort. I could not ask for a more competent and committed group of individuals, nor a stronger leadership team. We are fortunate to have incredibly strong leaders who are working around the clock to ensure the safety of you and your families. I am also thankful for my own Board, as they have supported my work on behalf of the larger community. They also remain highly engaged in a variety of activities, and are each contributing to local efforts supporting the community’s social and economic needs.

As always, do not hesitate to reach me by email, text or phone. You can find my contact information on the Contact Us page on the Website. I will continue to provide updates here and on the LIHD Facebook page. I also want to say a thank you to Lopez Rocks for supporting my efforts to provide up-to-date information.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.

COVID-19 Updates

As a reminder, San Juan County released the March 19th COVID-19 community update and Q&A online. Click HERE to access the County’s website to watch the video.

Most islanders are also aware of Friday’s announcement that we had the first positive test result associated with an Orcas resident. Stay up-to-date on case counts in San Juan County HERE.

Be safe Lopez. XO

COVID-19 Update

San Juan County will release its next COVID-19 community update via recorded video on Thursday, March 19th at 5:00 p.m. There will be an opportunity for you to submit questions even though the event will be recorded rather than live. As you might imagine, there is tremendous interest in these live streams, and the March 9th event was so heavily subscribed some had issues accessing the stream.

You can submit a question to be answered during the recording.  Click  HERE to access the County’s website to learn how and to access the link to watch the video once uploaded.

Be Safe Lopez!

COVID-19 Update

As we continue to deal with the health concerns associated with COVID-19, we know islanders are also dealing with the impact of a shaken economy. Throughout this rapidly changing situation, our Federal, State and Local government agencies have continued to provide resources to assist everyone with navigating this pandemic.

This COVID-19 Summary of Resources for Individuals was developed by the District’s accounting firm and has some helpful information. While the District Office will be closed for the next few weeks, Superintendent Presson remains actively involved in the County’s emergency response efforts. She is also in close contact with the Commissioners and is always available by email: apresson@lopezislandhd.org or by cell/text: 415-999-5611.

Be safe Lopez.

COVID-19 Update

A Message from the Superintendent of the Orcas and Lopez Public Hospital Districts – Important COVID-19 Update
As the Superintendent for the Public Hospital Districts on Orcas and Lopez islands, I was asked to lead several areas within the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). One area of our COVID-19 response where there are a lot of questions is around specimen collection and testing. We’ve all encountered mixed messages and shifting terminology. It’s understandably confusing, and it might seem as though nothing is happening. The good news is there’s been a lot of focus around monitoring of supplies, as well as discussions with providers to ensure there is adequate capacity for specimen collection and testing.

On Orcas and Lopez, we are fortunate to have the expertise and partnership of UW Medicine. They have been leading many efforts within their own patient and employee population in their larger system, which are helping to inform our protocols and thinking – specifically around the drive-through specimen collection model. This approach is now being widely used by health systems in several States and is now being utilized at the UW Orcas and Lopez Clinics. All specimens collected are then being sent to the UW Lab for testing.

The UW Medicine Orcas and Lopez Clinics are dedicated to supporting our entire community and have opened up their specimen collection and testing service to ALL islanders, whether or not you are currently registered with UW. It’s important to understand not everyone who feels ill needs to be tested, particularly those with mild illness. A health care provider will determine if you should be tested, and it’s likely their advice on managing your symptoms will be the same whether you test positive or negative. According to the World Health Organization, the vast majority of those who get COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and feel better within a couple of weeks. Those with underlying health issues are at greater risk for more severe symptoms, and it’s important that our medical providers have the time and resources to closely monitor those patients. If you experience symptoms of illness and you can manage your illness at home, please stay there and avoid contact with others.

The process being utilized at the UW Orcas and Lopez Clinics is designed to protect your health and that of the providers and our community members. While additional communication will be coming from UW Medicine, here are a few important things to know about the process:

• If you have flu like symptoms do not walk into the clinic. This will protect other patients and staff from exposure and spread.
• All testing is done by appointment; you will be provided with details as to where to go and what to expect when your appointment is confirmed.
• The first step in the process for UW patients and non-patients is to call the UW COVID-19 Hotline number: 855-520-2285. Your patience is appreciated as the call volume may be high. UW Medicine staff are working to be responsive to your needs and concerns.
• Please do not call the island clinics directly. You will need to go through a quick registration process to be able to be scheduled for testing, and that process is being handled by the UW COVID-19 Hotline.

It’s important our EMS resources remain available for emergent medical calls and other 911 activities. Only call 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency. Please note that EMS personnel are not currently performing COVID-19 specimen collection. All of those activities must be coordinated by your health care provider, as they will also be the ones following up to ensure you receive test results.

Something else to be aware of regarding your other health care appointments that may have been scheduled prior to COVID-19. For patient safety measures, providers will be rescheduling appointments that are more routine in nature (for example: Medicare Wellness exams). This will allow providers and staff to address the added responsibilities associated with COVID-19 specimen collection, monitoring of critically ill patients, reviewing test results, and reporting back to patients and public health officials. The community’s understanding during this extraordinary time is appreciated.

The San Juan County EOC remains ready to provide support if the situation changes. The team remains in ongoing communication with the clinics, EMS, other EOC Branches, PeaceHealth/PIMC, local leaders and numerous other local and regional health care stakeholders. Other activities underway include assembling a list of volunteer providers who are willing and able to assist with specimen collection and patient coordination, should the need arise. We are also in the process of developing plans should the County experience a surge in COVID-19 cases.

It’s wonderful to have everyone share their expertise, ideas and time – we are very fortunate to live in this County.