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COVID-19 Update

Visitor restrictions are in effect for all MultiCare hospitals and clinics. Get the latest information and answers to your most frequently asked questions about novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn More

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2020 10:29am

We know many of you have questions and concerns about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in your community, so we created this page to share facts and information.

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness, so it is important to be informed about how to protect yourself and others.

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have upper respiratory symptoms (cough, fever or shortness of breath) and believe you need to be evaluated for COVID-19 – please call first before visiting a hospital, clinic or urgent care to determine if you need to visit a specific site for testing.

MultiCare is currently offering free e-visits to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms through MultiCare Virtual Care, where our providers will also help you navigate to the next appropriate step. Use promo code “COVID19” at the payment page to unlock the free e-visit after completing our protocol. Feeling sick, but not sure if you should go to the doctor? Use our assessment tool on this page to help you decide if you need to be seen.

MultiCare Virtual Care

Visitor Restrictions

In order to help keep our patients, employees and visitors safe, MultiCare has implemented a number of visitor restrictions at all our hospitals and clinics.

Learn more

Preparing for What’s Next

 

A message from MultiCare’s President & CEO, Bill Robertson

Information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. About one in every five people who contract it need hospital care. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 3-6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with COVID-19, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. It is important to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face in public and clean and disinfectfrequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

How severe is COVID-19? Should I worry?

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. About one in every five people who contract it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

Most coronavirus illnesses are mild with fever and cough. The vast majority of people with COVID-19 do not require hospital care. A much smaller percentage of people get severely ill with lung and breathing problems like pneumonia. People over the age of 60 and people with underlying medical conditions are at highest risk.

CDC recommends that older adults or those who have certain medical conditions consider postponing travel. More travel information.

Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

Illness due to COVID-19 is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. The vast majority of people with COVID-19 infection do not require hospital care. A much smaller percentage of people get severely ill with lung and breathing problems like pneumonia.

People at high risk for complications from COVID-19 are:

  • People older than 60 years of age
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • Those who are pregnant

The CDC recommends that older adults or those who have certain medical conditions consider postponing travel. More travel information.

Common questions - visiting MultiCare

What is the difference between social distancing, quarantine and isolation?

Social distancing

Social distancing is one of the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. It can help keep sick people from coming in contact with healthy ones and so limit the number of people who are exposed to, or get sick with, a contagious illness. The CDC recommends avoiding large gatherings and crowds, and maintaining a distance of approximately 3-6 feet from others.

Quarantine in general means separating a person or people who may have a contagious disease, but aren’t showing symptoms yet, from other people who have not been so exposed. This can help prevent more people from getting sick because sometimes a person can pass an illness on to others even before they become sick. With COVID-19, the CDC has recommended a 14-day period to monitor for symptoms.

Isolation refers to separating a person or people who probably or definitely have a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Isolation may be voluntary or compelled by governmental or public health authorities.

I have an appointment or service scheduled at a MultiCare hospital or clinic. Should I cancel it?

At this time, MOST or SOME appointments will continue as scheduled. Should there be any changes to your appointment or a different recommendation from your care provider, we will notify you as soon as possible.

If you need to cancel an appointment, please contact your provider’s office directly.

If you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please stay home, limit your exposure to other people and monitor symptoms. If symptoms progress, please call ahead before visiting any doctor’s office or clinic.

Will my appointment/surgical procedure proceed as planned?
  • Following guidance from the CDC, we have made a careful decision to postpone non-emergent surgeries and procedures through April 19. “Non-emergent” means surgeries and procedures that aren’t emergencies and can be delayed without causing serious risks to your health.
  • Urgent and emergent surgeries — procedures you need right away or very soon for the sake of your health, such as appendectomies, broken bone repair and so on — will remain unchanged and uninterrupted, and we will keep providing critical surgical care for our community.
  • If your surgery has been postponed, MultiCare will be contacting you to let you know and update you on next steps.
  • Our doctors, infection control experts and leaders are looking into whether other appointments may be postponed, as needed. If you have questions about your specific appointment, please contact your doctor’s office directly.
Is it safe for me or my loved one to receive care at a MultiCare hospital?

We continue to care for our patients using the highest safety and quality standards, using recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While COVID-19 is new to our community, caring for patients with serious illnesses is not. Every day, MultiCare routinely cares for patients with serious illnesses, including contagious diseases, while protecting the health of our other patients.

Patients with serious infections are isolated and cared for in appropriate spaces by trained staff. We follow best practices and strict safety and quality guidelines. We are equipped to care for these patients while protecting the health of others – including laboring mothers, babies and families and our staff.

I have a loved one currently receiving care at a MultiCare hospital. Is it safe to visit them?

MultiCare has made some changes to our visitation policies because of the current COVID-19 situation. We may need to further revise those policies as time goes on, so please visit our Visitor Restriction information tabs on this page to get the most up-to-date information.

We know it can be difficult to not have have access to friends and loved ones while you are in the hospital. Phone calls and video chats can be one way to stay connected while you or your loved one is in the hospital.

I’m scheduled to attend a class at MultiCare, will it be canceled?

Classes scheduled at MultiCare are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a class you’ve registered for is canceled, you will be contacted.

Is MultiCare prepared to care for patients with COVID-19?

We have been preparing for the presence of COVID-19 for months and our teams are ready to safely deliver care. Our facilities are open, and previously scheduled medical appointments are continuing unless otherwise noted from your care provider.

We’re grateful for the staff at all of our hospitals and clinics, who have been working tirelessly to provide the best care possible while following MultiCare’s guidelines derived from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What is MultiCare doing to ensure the safety of staff?

MultiCare’s commitment to the safety of every staff member within our health system is unwavering. We will take care of patients with COVID-19 following all the appropriate safety policies. That includes following the World Health Organization (WHO) evidence-based guidelines for personal protective equipment. The WHO guidelines have been endorsed by the Washington State Department of Health and local health departments.

Are there any people with COVID-19 in our community?

As the situation in Washington continues to rapidly evolve, please check with the Washington State Department of Health and your local department of health for the latest information and alerts.

For local information visit:

Puget Sound

Inland Northwest

Testing and treatment

Who is tested for COVID-19?

MultiCare follows evidence-based guidelines for testing based on the CDC and other sources. A call to your provider, urgent care facility or MultiCare Virtual Care services would be the first step to begin evaluation of your symptoms. From there, we work with both commercial and state labs to facilitate the testing.

If you are having difficulty breathing or a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.

Should I get tested for COVID-19?

If you have upper respiratory symptoms – cough, fever or shortness of breath and believe you need to be evaluated for COVID-19 – please call first before a clinic or urgent care visit to determine if you need to visit a specific site for testing.

Additionally, MultiCare is currently offering free e-visits to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms through MultiCare Virtual Care, where our providers will also help you navigate to the next appropriate step, if testing for COVID-19 is warranted. Use promo code “COVID19” at the payment page to unlock the free e-visit after completing our protocol.

Who is at high risk for complications from COVID-19

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. If you are sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath and in a high-risk group, call your health care provider to discuss whether you should be tested for COVID-19.

People at high risk for complications from COVID-19 are:

  • People older than 60
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • Those who are pregnant
What is the treatment for COVID-19?

To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 3-6 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing. (See basic protective measures against the new coronavirus).

What is a self-quarantine and why is it used?

Quarantine is put into place to prevent the possible spread of an infectious disease from someone who may have been exposed to the disease but is not yet sick. When people are quarantined, they are kept separate from others until they are out of the period when they could get sick. During that time, health officials track their health so that if they do develop symptoms, they can get them to a health care provider quickly for evaluation, testing if needed, and care.

When people are in self-quarantine, they have no symptoms, but because there is a possibility that they might have been exposed, they stay away from others in public settings. For 14 days from their last possible exposure, people in self-quarantine cannot go to work, school, or any public places where they could have close contact with others. Public health departments direct them in how to monitor their health so that should they develop symptoms, they can be quickly and safely isolated from all others, including those in their household.

How to help and protect yourself

How do I keep myself and my family safe?

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
    Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 3-6 feet of distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
    Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
    Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your health care provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

You should only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or caring for someone who may have COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 3-6 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing.

How do I talk to my kids about COVID-19?

Knowing important information about the outbreak and learning how to be prepared can reduce your stress and help calm likely anxieties.

View the Helping Children Cope guide, which includes reactions according to age group and the best ways you can respond.

If you or a loved one is having a difficult time coping with the outbreak and want to seek outside help, there are ways to get that help. For example:

  • Get support regarding your anxiety or stress by speaking to a trained counselor at SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting TalkWithUS 66746
  • Contact your health care provider to ask health-related questions or seek mental health support.
What if I don't have health insurance?

Due to the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in our state, the Washington Healthplanfinder is offering a limited 30-day special enrollment period (SEP) for qualified people who currently do not have insurance. This SEP runs through April 8, 2020.

References

Ways to Help

There are plenty of actions you can take to help MultiCare’s COVID-19 response efforts and make a difference.

Join the COVID-19 Volunteer Team

MultiCare is looking for volunteers who can support our COVID-19 response efforts from the safety of your home. Visit the COVID-19 Volunteer Team page to learn more.

Donate manufactured personal protective equipment (PPE)

If people have unopened boxes of masks, gloves or gowns that they would like to donate they can drop them off between (11am -2pm) Monday through Friday at the hospital loading docks listed at the bottom of this release, where a volunteer coordinator will meet people and receive donations. Specifications of all donated products will be evaluated, and they will then be allocated accordingly. If opened containers of PPE are donated, these products will be placed through a cleaning process before distributed for use. Learn more about donating PPE. 

Thanks to our generous community, we currently have a good stock of homemade masks and do not require any more at this time. Our need for masks may change in the future and we will reach out if that's the case.

Food Donations

We are grateful for donations of individually wrapped, commercially prepared food (e.g., granola bars) to provide snacks to our hard-working staff. Donations of food are gladly accepted from (11am-2pm, Monday-Friday) at the hospital loading docks noted below. If we receive more than can be used, we will donate extra food to the local food bank. If you would like to donate food directly to your local food bank, we suggest reaching out to them to find out their current needs. Please schedule food donations with Theresa Lerma, MultiCare Volunteer Services Coordinator, at [email protected] 

Blood Donations

Our local blood banks are running low and would appreciate your most precious donation, your blood. MultiCare does not have any donation sites at our facilities. For a list of sites where you can donate blood, please visit https://www.redcross.org/give-blood.html.

Donate to the MultiCare COVID-19 Response Fund

MultiCare has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to honor and support caregivers, provide access to care and address emergent needs as this extraordinary health crisis continues. Make your gift today.

Send a positive note to our care teams

Our care teams are working hard to keep everyone safe. A kind word of encouragement makes a difference. Email your message to [email protected].

Help share credible information

Refer to the MultiCare COVID-19 Resource Center for updates and resources and share the information with your friends, family and network.


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