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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: March 12, 2020

Protecting Our Valuable Healthcare Resources

In times of disease outbreaks, healthcare can become a limited resource. One of the ways we can help each other out is by understanding how to make the best use of our shared healthcare system. Here are the things we can all do to protect this valuable resource:

Do not go to the emergency room unless it’s essential. 

Emergency rooms need to serve people with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or difficulty breathing contact your regular doctor first. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Stay home if you are sick and have mild symptoms of cough, fever, or shortness of breath. 

Take care of yourself as you would for a cold or flu.

  • If you have severe symptoms and need medical care, call ahead to your regular healthcare provider before going in. They will decide if you need to be seen in person.
  • Your health care provider will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

 Testing availability is still limited in our area. 

  • Healthcare providers can test patients they suspect could have COVID-19. Your health care provider will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
  • Testing is limited. That’s why it is important that testing is prioritized for certain groups, including:
    • Health care workers.
    • Close contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19.
    • Patients with severe or worsening respiratory illness.
    • Those at high risk for severe illness.

Not everyone needs to be tested.

  • We don’t currently have medications to treat COVID-19. Whether you test positive or negative, your healthcare provider’s advice for managing your symptoms will be the same.
    • The majority of infections with novel coronavirus are mild and resolve without the need for supportive treatment. If you are able to manage your symptoms at home, you should stay home and avoid contacting others.
  • If you are sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath and are in a high-risk group, call your healthcare 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 years
      • People with chronic medical conditions
      • People with weakened immune systems
      • Pregnant people

Where can I get tested? 

  • Call your healthcare provider to discuss whether or not you should be tested for COVID-19.
  • The health department does not routinely test people for COVID-19. Our offices are not designed for routine clinical services or equipped with the supplies for testing on-site.
  • If you are uninsured, you can contact the Washington Health Benefits Exchange 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604 or Unity Care NW’s Enrollment Office 360-788-2669 to see what insurance you may qualify for. The Washington Health Benefits Exchange has extended a limited-time special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance. If you do not have a regular provider, you can go to your nearest walk-in, urgent care or emergency clinic. Please call first and let them know if you have a fever or a cough.

Not all healthcare providers are able to test for COVID-19. If your healthcare provider says you should be tested for COVID-19 but they are not able to provide the test, they can call the health department. We will work with them to find a place for you to get tested.

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