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Oregon Hospital Week Message to Patients: It's Safe to Return

“We’re safe, we’re open, we’re ready to take care of our patients.”

That’s the message from Charlie Tveit, CEO of Lake District Hospital in Lakeview, a small town in southern Oregon 100 miles east of Klamath Falls.

This is national Hospital Week, an ideal time to acknowledge Oregon’s 62 community hospitals’ deep commitment to safety. All have taken significant precautions to prevent the spread of infectious disease during the pandemic. In fact, Tveit and other hospital leaders say effective infectious disease control has always been a top priority. They want their communities to know it’s safe to come back and address their health needs.

And that means everyone in the facility is safe, including staff. “We have set up all sorts of means so that everyone who comes to the hospital is prescreened,” Tveit said. “We prescreen people before they come to the facility, we screen everyone. If they show any symptoms, they are treated as though they have this condition.” To date, Lake County has yet to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Tveit says his hospital also has enough PPE to deliver care safely. “We have a significant amount of personal protective equipment.”

He says the hospital has begun scheduling elective procedures, including surgeries. “We don’t want people to stay away” due to safety concerns. That includes visits to the emergency department.

Those views are echoed by Ginny Williams, CEO of Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach. She understands the anxiety that everyone felt at the beginning, but there are real health risks to letting that anxiety keep people from seeking care.

“I don’t think that (anxiety) means stay home from a hospital if you are having cardiac symptoms or if you need blood work, or if when this all started your doctor suspected you had a lesion that needed follow-up,” Williams said.

She said patients should be ready for a different experience when they come in, but it’s for a good reason. Safety first.

“All hospitals have limited their access to one location, hospitals are screening any patient procedure or an office visit, we’re prescreening them on the phone and if they have symptoms asking them to stay home,” said Williams.

Curry General is also resuming scheduled procedures, closely following guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority. “We are going about things very smartly, starting slowly. We will start with 50 percent of the volumes that we were doing before. We will continue to monitor PPE.”

“We will protect our patients and our staff at all costs.”

Williams also is concerned about putting off health needs, including cancer screening. “We know that detection of cancer at an early stage has a much better outcome for our patients, but for 4-5 weeks we have not done colonoscopy screenings, mammography screenings are not being done.”

Let’s face it, we’re not used to seeing masks and plastic shields between us and hospital staff. But look closer: behind those masks are smiles. These are the same people who have always been there, ready to take care of you and your loved ones.

It’s safe to return.