The last several weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic have presented new challenges for health care delivery across the nation. With over 1 million cases in the United States, the virus remains a threat even in Montana, where case counts have slowed. Billings Clinic remains diligent, putting measures in place at all locations and working with affiliate sites across the region to protect patients and employees. Some of those safety measures include:
• Patients are screened for fever and respiratory symptoms at the entrances. All employees are also screened when they come to work.
• A universal mask policy for patients and staff on all campuses is in place, requiring masks to be worn at Billings Clinic. Masks for patients and staff are being distributed at all open entrances.
• No visitors are allowed on campus unless a caregiver is needed to assist the patient.
• Patients are being asked to arrive for appointments right when they start.
• Hand sanitizer is available in many locations for good hand hygiene practices.
• Waiting and common areas have been redesigned to allow for 6 feet of social distancing.
• Common areas and clinic rooms are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
The health care organization has started a phased approach to offering more in-person clinic visits and is gradually scheduling patients for elective surgical procedures. Patients are screened for COVID-19 4-6 days prior to their procedure if it requires intubation or another aerosol generating procedure. For patient convenience, they opened a curbside COVID-19 Pre-Procedural Testing Center on April 28. Patients scheduled for surgeries that require intubation or aerosol-generating procedures are tested from their cars at the center, located at N. Broadway and 8th Ave. N outside near SameDay Care.
“COVID-19 has required us to re-think the way we function as an organization to get patients the vital health care they need in the safest way possible,” said Dr. John Pender, Billings Clinic Chief of Surgery. “We understand that it has been challenging on our patients to delay procedures, and we are working quickly, safely and diligently to ensure measures are in place to provide these procedures while protecting our patients.”
To keep patients in their homes whenever possible, Billings Clinic is giving patients the opportunity to meet with a provider online. Virtual Care offers a quality option for many acute, primary and specialty care appointments. This service is open to adult and pediatric patients. Acute Virtual Care covers many of the ailments of a regular walk-in visit, including:
• Stuffy and runny nose
• Sore throat
• Eye infections
• Painful urination in adult women
• Lower back pain
• Joint pain or strains
• Minor skin problems
Billings Clinic has performed nearly 10,000 Virtual Care and telephone visits since the COVID-19 pandemic started in Montana. Providers in many specialties as well as family and internal medicine have implemented this service to allow for social distancing.
Innovation in health care has never moved more quickly, and Billings Clinic has teams working day and night to ensure that communities across the region have access to safe and quality health care. Learn more about COVID-19 response and the services available by visiting billingsclinic.com. Call to learn more about the level of care you need at 406-238-2500 or 1-800-332-7156.