By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Hospitals, clinics taking extra care

Yamhill County’s hospitals and clinics are taking extra precautions in anticipation of patients needing care for coronavirus, but not all are forthcoming about what those are.

Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday said Oregon should anticipate several thousand infections.

Providence Newberg Medical hospital has erected a rapid response tent outside its main facility equipped with power, heat and lights, which can be used as an extension of the emergency room, spokesman Mike Antrim said.

The hospital has 55 patient care rooms, all of which are private, and can be changed to negative pressure to help control the spread of infectious disease, he said. Negative pressure rooms allow air to enter, but not leave. That prevents viruses and other contaminents from moving through the ventilation system.

The hospital holds drills “at least two times a year” to review how it would handle large numbers of patients, and has plans in place for alternate care sites.

He declined to tally the hospital’s ventilators, equipment that has been necessary for patients with severe coronavirus symptoms, but said it is “well-stocked,” and has the ability to move the equipment around within the Providence health care system.


 Willamette Valley Medical Center has declined to answer repeated questions about its capacity or preparedness for coronavirus, which led the governor on Thursday to ban events and gatherings of more than 250 people.

Spokesman Cooper Fisher released a statement offering assurances that “our clinical teams are trained on the proper procedures and protocols to minimize the risk of spreading any infectious disease.”

He said infection control measures would be used in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control should a patient suspected of coronavirus enter the system.

“These include masking and isolating the patient, donning personal protective equipment – inclusive of an N95 respirator mask, eye protection, gown, and gloves – and ensuring environmental hygiene,” he said in an email.

“In response to national supply issues, we are actively coordinating with community partners to address supply needs at the facility level.”

On Thursday, the hospital issued a news release urging those with mild symptoms such as cough, runny nose, and fever to stay at home.

“Remember, it is cold and flu season so there are many possible causes of these symptoms. If your symptoms are more concerning, please call your primary health care provider before coming into a clinic, urgent care center or emergency room.”


Sunrise Family Clinic in McMinnville announced early measures to protect patients.

“We know that it is our responsibility to our patients, and the community at large, to help reduce the spread of disease among patients and to keep our staff healthy in order to keep serving our patients,” said Noelle McLaughlin, who has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

She told the News-Register that the clinic was following CDC guidelines, which includes removing items from the waiting rooms such as toys and magazines that might easily pass the virus from one patient to another.

“Our biggest change to work-flow is adjusting our schedule to have well hours and sick hours,” McLaughlin said.

They are rescheduling routine exams for high-risk patients, those older than 60 years of age or with chronic health diseases, unless they have immediate needs, until after the current pandemic clears.

Patients who are sick are being scheduled for afternoon visits, and will be met outside by staff wearing appropriate protective equipment, McLaughlin said.

“Our patients who need to come in for evaluation, have been informed to call or text from their car to check-in so they are not sitting in the waiting room,” she said. “This process limits the amount of respiratory droplets spread by the patient in the waiting room and limits the number of staff in contact with the individual.”

All staff members who interact with patients will wear protective equipment during the afternoon hours, she said.

The clinic is also “working hard to expand our electronic medical capabilities to hopefully be able to screen patients from home to determine their current health status and if in-person care is necessary.”


At Physicians Medical Center in McMinnville, Dr. Bill Koenig said the clinic is operating much as usual.

If patients are sick, “we encourage that they call and let us know what's happening” before arriving, he said.

Doctors with offices at Providence Medical Center are also asking people to take extra care about spreading infection. A note on the website advises patients and visitors to “Stay home if you believe you have been exposed to the virus, even if you are not showing any symptoms.”

“Whether you have seasonal flu, the common cold, or something else, it’s important you stay away from others when sick. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible while you are sick. Monitor yourself for fever, coughing and shortness of breath.”



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