This page consolidates important operational updates for Providence in Walla Walla. Please scroll down for important information about visitor policies, entry into our facilities, clinic closures, what to do if you suspect you have coronavirus and more.
In accordance with CDC recommendations, no visitors will be allowed at our hospital campuses. The only exceptions to this policy will be for:
- Minor children can be accompanied by one parent, guardian or power of attorney
- During childbirth, the father/partner may be admitted
- Patients receiving end-of-live/palliative care may have limited visitors
- Patients who need assistance making decisions may have their power of attorney over their health accompany them
- Providence clinics located within the hospital may make accommodations, as necessary, for patients who ned assistance getting to their appointments
For these very limited exceptions, all visitors must be 18 years or older and be immediate family (or powers of attorney, guardians, or patient representative). They will be asked to return home if they exhibit cold or flu-like symptoms, or have a fever. No visitors will be permitted in isolation rooms. There will be no exceptions.
During this time, we encourage our patients and their loved ones to communicate through phone and video calls.
Entry into Our Facilities
Visitors will be screened at the main entrances prior to entering. Anyone who exhibits cold or flu-like symptoms or has a fever will be asked to return home. Additionally, as a safety precaution and to prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19, we are consolidating entrance points at some of our hospitals.
Open entrances at Providence St. Mary Medical Center:
- Main entrance facing Fifth Aveneue from 5:30 am – 5 p.m. for all patients except those needing emergency care
- The emergency department entrance for emergencies and patients arriving after 5 p.m.
Providence Medical Group is now offering drive-through screening and testing at Urgent Care for people with symptoms of COVID-19.
The PMG COVID-19 Fast Track Clinic is located at the white tent on the north side of Urgent Care, 1025 S. Second Ave. The drive-through is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
The PMG COVID-19 Fast Track Clinic allows people to be rapidly screened, and if appropriate tested, without leaving their cars. They also receive COVID-19 information and directions for home care and isolation. It is important to note that due to shortages in testing supplies, testing will only be done if the patient meets criteria.
Drive-through patients with severe symptoms of possible COVID-19 or concerning vital signs are asked to enter the clinic to be seen by a provider. Patients enter through a separate door that was once the ambulance bay on the north side of the building. This ensures they remain a safe distance from other Urgent Care patients.
People going to Urgent Care for injuries and other concerns enter through the usual entrance of the Urgent Care clinic, and are asked not to use the drive-through.
The PMG COVID-19 Fast Track Clinic is part of Providence Medical Group’s ongoing efforts to meet the challenge presented by the virus in our community, while also providing safe care for other patients with medical needs separate from COVID-19. These efforts include:
- Family Medicine’s East Entrance Clinic for contagious illness that may include a cough and/or fever. The East Entrance Clinic, which also conducts COVID testing, provides a separate entrance and processes for Family Medicine so those who are ill are not sharing waiting areas with people who are not.
- Drive-up scheduled nurse visits for vaccinations at Family Medicine. Adults and children can remain in their cars while receiving a vaccination. To arrange a drive-through vaccination at Family Medicine, call 509-897-3700.
- ExpressCare Virtual at www.virtual.providence.org, which allows patients to be seen virtually through a phone, laptop, tablet or computer.
- More virtual options are in progress that will allow patients to see their primary care provider and some specialists online.
New Clinic for Patients with Possible COVID-19
Providence Family Medicine has set up a separate clinic, dubbed the East Entrance Clinic, for patients with symptoms of possible COVID-19 such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.
When a Family Medicine patient calls for an appointment, they receive a brief phone screening for COVID-19. Those with possible symptoms are directed to the east entrance of the Providence Family Medicine building, 1111 S Second Ave.
The clinic has separate rooms and processes to prevent patients with possible contagions from coming in contact with other patients.
Patients without symptoms enter through the main entrance as usual.
The East Entrance Clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The contact number is the same as Family Medicine, 509-897-3700.
Cardiac Rehabilitation Temporarily Closed
Providence Cardiac Rehabilitation has paused operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effect at the end of the day March 20.
Cardiac Rehabilitation is located in Providence St. Mary Medical Center. The majority of patients using cardiac rehabilitation are older with significant underlying health issues – statistically the people who are at greatest risk from experiencing severe and possibly life-threatening complications should they contract COVID-19.
On an average day, around 50 people attend cardiac rehabilitation in the Providence St. Mary rehabilitation gym, although many have chosen to opt out due to the pandemic. While rehabilitation plays an essential role in recovering from a cardiac event, Providence believes that given spread of COVID-19, it would be prudent for cardiac rehabilitation patients to remain at home and avoid crowds to the extent possible.
Providence is contacting all of the patients, and will be exploring exercise options they can do at home to continue their recovery.
Providence preparing former Walla Walla General Hospital building to take COVID-19 patients if needed
Providence St. Mary Medical Center is working to prepare the former Walla Walla General Hospital building to serve as a temporary inpatient hospital if necessary due to the pandemic.
The facility would be an extension of Providence St. Mary, and be used only if more patients required hospitalization than Providence St. Mary can safety accommodate.
“We are fortunate in this community to have the Providence Southgate Medical Park, which includes the former hospital that we can use to expand capacity to care for this community,” said Susan Blackburn, Chief Executive of Providence St. Mary.
Washington State has approximately 13,000 hospital beds. Experts do not believe that is enough to support all of the seriously ill COVID-19 patients in the state if numbers continue to rise.
If the Walla Walla area experiences a surge in COVID-19 patients similar to what has occurred in the Seattle area, it is estimated that Walla Walla will not have enough hospital beds to care for the seriously ill. If other hospitals in the region also were near or at capacity, it would be difficult or impossible to transfer patients to other hospitals for care.
By opening a temporary hospital at what is now the Providence Southgate Medical Park, 1025 S. Second Ave., the community could gain the beds it may need for the pandemic. The Southgate hospital will soon be ready to receive patients if the need arises.
The intent is for the facility to serve patients from Providence St. Mary’s traditional service area. The vast majority of patents are from the Walla Walla Valley, with a small number from Columbia, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties. Hospitals from those areas would transfer patients to Providence only if the patients needed a higher level of care than those hospitals were able to provide.
If the Southgate hospital opens, Providence Urgent Care, which also is in that building, may expand operations to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to further support the effort if needed.
“Currently, Providence St. Mary still has capacity, and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is low,” Blackburn said. “It is our sincere hope we will never need to open the temporary hospital at Southgate, but being prepared is part of our commitment to serving the health care needs of this community.”
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