Editor's note: the information below is distilled from a Dec. 10 press release provided by PIMC.
PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center, San Juan Island’s new critical access hospital, opened Nov. 26.
Since then, caregivers and community members alike have been adjusting to new services and related processes.
According to Jim Barnhart, chief administrative officer for Peace Island clinic, patients have experienced longer-than-normal registration times, as information is loaded into a new system for the first time. On subsequent visits, patients should experience a much quicker registration process.
Barnhart said that Peace Island caregivers have been tracking the most frequently asked questions. The answers to those questions are provided below.
Frequently asked questions:
Q: What happned to the Saturday clinic?
PIMC: The Saturday clinic that InterIsland Medical Center used to provide was discontinued a few months ago. At this time, Peace Island is not resourced to staff a weekend clinic; however, we are recruiting for another full-time family practitioner.
Q: What if I need care on the weekend?
PIMC: Peace Island physicians and nurses are available over the weekend to provide care via the Emergency Department. Some are concerned that care through the ED is much more expensive. However, the cost is comparable (lowest likely ED visit cost is approximately $172, while the most common InterIsland Medical Center Saturday clinic fee bill totaled $158 (the difference is likely to be the co-pay, which was around $20 at IIMC, but for hospital-based care is nearer to $100, with insurance.)
Q: Why is it taking so long to register for a clinic appointment?
PIMC: We have heard from patients that their clinic registration, which used to take just a few minutes at InterIsland Medical, is taking significantly longer. The longer clinic registration is occurring due to the one time need to enter all the required patient and insurance information to set-up a new clinic record. Check-ins for subsequent clinic visits will not take nearly as long.
Q: How do I make an appointment with my doctor at the clinic?
PIMC: To schedule a routine appointment with your physician or nurse practitioner call the main PIMC phone number, 360-378-2141; weekdays, M-F, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., we will route you to a scheduler. At night and over the weekend, you can call the same phone number and we will route you to the clinic voice-mail box and your message will be received and responded to the following business day.
Q: How do I get my prescriptions refilled?
PIMC: Call your pharmacy first to request a refill. It may take between 48 and 72 hours to process a refill and you may need to be seen by your physician before a refill can be written. Don’t hesitate to call the clinic, before your medications run out, to find out if you will need to be seen.
Q: My doctor put in an order for a lab test. How do I schedule that?
PIMC: Labs will be drawn at the clinic on a walk-in basis. Between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., M-F, come to the clinic, check-in and you will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Q: My doctor put in an order for imaging. How do I schedule that?
PIMC: For X-rays, we accept walk-in appointments. Check-in at the clinic M-F, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and our radiology technologist will see you on a first-come, first-served basis. Ultrasound, treadmill, CT Scan and bone density scans are performed at PIMC and scheduled through the PeaceHealth Central Scheduling department. Once your doctor places an order for any of these services, call 1-360-788-6345. Mammography will also be performed at PIMC through a cooperative agreement with Mount Baker Imaging. After your doctor places an order for your mammogram, call Mount Baker Imaging, 360-733-0430.
Q: Where should I go for emergency medical care? Routine care?
PIMC: You should use the hospital emergency department for very serious or life-threatening problems, not for common illnesses or minor injuries. sQ:
Q: What days will the clinic be open?
PIMC: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility is closed in observance of the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
Q: Who should I call for after-hours help?
PIMC: If you have a serious or life-threatening problem, call 911. For your safety, it is our policy at PIMC not to give out medical advice over the phone. Many insurance companies have a 24/7 nurse help line to help you decide where to go for after-hours care. Those with other insurance carriers should check their insurance cards for information.
Q: What services are provided at Peace Island Medical Center?
PIMC: Expanded clinic services provided by local physicians, 24/7 emergency department, more regularly scheduled visiting specialists and outpatient procedures, a cancer care center providing chemotherapy and other ongoing therapy treatment in a quiet, private setting; technologically advanced imaging and diagnostic equipment including a 64-slice CT, limited, short stay, observation, and transition inpatient care, coordination with off-island physicians for continuity of care through high quality electronic medical records and efficient transfer of patient information.
Q: What is a Critical Access Hospital?
PIMC: Critical access hospitals receive cost-based reimbursements from Medicare and ensure delivery of quality healthcare in rural communities. CAH is a designation met by defined criteria and is outlined by conditions of participation For more information, these resources are recommended:
Peace Island Medical Center includes a ten-bed critical access hospital, primary-care and specialty clinics, a cancer center, expanded diagnostic and treatment services, an operating suite for outpatient procedures and a 24-hour emergency department with five beds.
PIMC operates as part of the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in the Northwest Network of Care, which includes a not-for-profit, full-service hospital founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, and is part of the PeaceHealth system with medical centers in Alaska, Washington and Oregon.
In addition to the hospital and PeaceHealth Medical Group, PeaceHealth’s services in Northwest Washington include several Centers of Excellence, North Cascade Cardiology, a diagnostic laboratory, a joint venture outpatient imaging service and a specialty clinic in Sedro Woolley.