“Due to the location of our communities and the cooperation of our community members to practice social distancing measures we have been allowed adequate time to gather protective equipment for our staff, increase testing capabilities and develop protocols to try to safely care for all patients during this pandemic,” says Dr. Jenny Johnston, provider at Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics. “We really appreciate the support from our communities.”
“As a doctor, I am reasonably worried about possible exposure to the virus for myself and for my patients. I know I am not the only one experiencing this fear because I have observed people who are afraid to seek medical attention because they are worried that they will be exposed to the virus,” says Johnston. “While my concerns and those of our patients are valid, we have taken several safety precautions to make it possible for patients to come to and seek care.”
“At the time I am writing this, we have no confirmed cases in our county, which is great news,” says Johnston. “However, one of the issues that the threat of COVID-19 has caused is that existing chronic conditions in our patients are being neglected because patients are not seeking their regular medical care. This can lead to bigger problems if health problems are ignored. Our hospital and clinics are doing a lot to keep any risk of exposure to a minimum. Our hospital has moved all of our possible coronavirus patients away from our clinics and, every person, including staff, is screened for symptoms of the virus on arrival to both the hospital and clinic.”
“I would like the community to know that it is very important that they continue their medical care and that safety is our top priority,” explains Dr. Johnston. “You will notice important changes such as screening questions upon arrival, limited visitors to our facilities, patients and employees wearing masks if they are showing any symptoms, our respiratory isolation clinic at Clearwater Valley Hospital, newly installed Plexiglas walls over all of our check-in stations and the new testing area just for patients with coronavirus symptoms at the hospital.”
“It is so important that the care we have always offered to our patients is continued,” says Johnston. “Many patients in our community have diseases such as diabetes, COPD and high blood pressure which require continuous monitoring by medical staff. For example, most diabetics should have an appointment every three months, and many of our patients with diabetes have missed their three month appointment due to fears of coronavirus. This will cause people to become more sick because they are afraid to take care of themselves and see their provider. I feel confident that my workplace is doing everything to keep me safe and I hope our patients see that too.”
“Please make an appointment if you have been meaning to. If you have any questions, please give us a call. For extra safety, if you would like to wear cloth mask we welcome you to do so,” says Johnston. “We are also offering tele-health visits (or virtual visits), which have been very successful for a wide variety of issues. Ask your nurse or doctor if this would be a good option for you. We care deeply for our patients and community and we are going the extra mile to keep everyone safe and continue care.”
“We also need to keep in mind that this is a marathon, and not a sprint. More than ever it is important to take care of your chronic medical conditions by working closely with your primary care provider,” says Johnston.
“Please remember it is still important to practice physical distancing from people you do not live with (at least 6 feet), frequent hand washing, avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and stay home while sick except for visits to medical facilities,” says Johnston.