GMC takes steps to address COVID-19

By 
Noah French
Sunday, March 22, 2020
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In the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, Glendive Medical Center has been taking measures to prevent and address COVID-19.

Among these measures is the decision to designate Urgent Care as the triage for patients with respiratory symptoms.

Urgent care is found on the first level of Gabert Clinic and is accessible from the GMC parking lot.

According to GMC Foundation and Marketing Director Jaime Shanks, this outdoor access is the reason that urgent care is acting as the triage center.

Alongside using an easily accessible area for this crucial resource and keeping respiratory patients from possibly passing through other areas, as of Friday GMC will be on lock-down with two access doors available to the public.

Patients and staff will be screened upon arrival at either the main front entrance and Gabert Clinic parking lot entrance.

The main front enterance will be open for screening from 5:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. seven days a week. Outside of these hours patients will use the Emergency Room enterance that is open 24/7 to the public.

The Gabert Clinic Entrance will be open for screening from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Urgent Care entrance, which is being exclusively used for scheduled respiratory patients, will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Additionally, dock doors will only be open to vendors and deliveries.

In the interest of preventing the spread of illness from respiratory patients, patients with non-respiratory symptoms who would normally go to Urgent Care will instead need to make an appointment with Gabert Clinic at 406-345-8901 until further notice.

Patients who are experiencing respiratory symptoms including a cough, a sore throat, a fever, chills, a runny nose or other cold symptoms will need to call ahead to Urgent Care at 406-345-8811.

Patients with more minor respiratory symptoms are recommended to stay home and self-isolate as much as possible, even if they are notshowing significant risk of carrying COVID-19.

Not all of these patients with respiratory symptoms will need to be tested for COVID-19, as the likelihood that someone may have the virus is dependent on certain criteria.

Individuals who have recently traveled, especially to an area known to have had COVID-19 cases, may present a more substantial chance of carrying the virus.

When patients call Urgent Care, medical staff from GMC will triage them over the phone and instruct them on how to move forward.

These Urgent Care patients must call ahead, as any walkins will not be welcome. Walk-in patients may serve as a potential threat to other patients and staff, as GMC staff would not be adequately prepared to triage them on arrival.

Additionally, when patients arrive for their appointments they should not bring any extra friends, family, or children.

“We’re not denying care or anything like that,” explained Shanks.

The processes of separating respiratory patients and strictly making appointments over the phone are measures that GMC must take to best ensure the safety of their patients and staff.

As of Friday, the triage and testing processes have resulted in no positive cases of COVID-19 within the community.

“We have no confirmed COVID tests, all of it’s been flu,” explained Shanks.

While Urgent Care has changed its operation, Gabert Clinic will continue to see patients for regular services.

Labs, Imaging, Surgeries and all therapies will also continue their usual operation.

Classes offered through GMC have been postponed, including LifeStyle Balance, Baby Bistro and Cardiac re hab Phase 3.

The Business Office, Medical Records, GMC Café and the Gift Shop will also be closed to the public.

To get in contact with staff from any of these departments, call 406-345-3306.

Alongside the changes to how appointments are handled, visitation to GMC facilities will be heavily restricted while COVID-19 is an active threat.

In order to protect the patients who are at the highest risk, visitation to Extended Care, Eastern Montana Veteran’s Home and The Heritage will only be allowed in emergency situations.

Acute Care will allow only one visitor per patient, except in situations when the patient is in critical condition or in an end-of-life scenario.

In these cases, the patient will be allowed two visitors.

Any visitors to acute care must be screened for symptoms before visitation.

Besides following these recommended practices when dealing with GMC, individuals can help reduce and prevent the spread of illness throughout the community by following the preventative measures that are usually recommended.

Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes and avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth can help prevent spreading illness.

Its also recommended that you disinfect surfaces regularly and avoid close contact with sick people when you are healthy or stay home when you are sick.

Any questions or concerns about COVID-19 should be directed to the GMC Coronovirus Hotline at 406-345-8811. The hotline will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8am-6pm and Saturday from 10am-2pm.

After Hours triage will be directed to the GMC Emergency Department.

Reach Noah French at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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