Submitted by Pamela Hutchins
Superintendent for San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1
I wanted to write to you and assure you that the San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 is working with all our community partners in our area to stay informed of COVID-19 information for our residents. Although the District office is closed to the public, our work of caring for the public continues every day.
As you may know, our hospital district provides EMS service through San Juan Island EMS and contributes financially towards Peace Island Medical Center. We thought we would give you some updates about both.
First, is a COVID-19 Situation Report from Interim Chief Kuetzing of San Juan Island EMS:
“The global pandemic has both San Juan County and San Juan Island EMS planning, preparing and modifying our operations in order to deal with the situation. Dr. Corsa, our San Juan County Medical Director, has developed guidelines for our response which are periodically modified as more information becomes available.
“Many agencies are having trouble maintaining an adequate supply of masks, gloves, gowns and goggles which serve as personal protective equipment (PPE), but so far we have not. We were able to place orders just ahead of the curve and have a stock of older masks that were purchased through the old Interisland Medical Center. The County has also secured supplies of expired (but unused) masks that can be used if current stocks run out and potentially shared with providers in our county that have need.
“So far, we have not experienced an unusual number of calls with patients exhibiting COVID-like or flu-like symptoms. We have modified one ambulance with the aim of expedient decontamination in mind. There have been only a handful of calls where full PPE is required and the process for full turn around to “back in service” status is getting quicker. Dispatchers have protocols that alert EMS to the need for full PPE before arrival on the scene.
“At the County level, an Emergency Operations Center has been established with a full complement based on the National Incident Management Strategy. Kyle Dodd, a Lt. with San Juan Island Fire and Rescue and an EMT, serves as the Incident Commander. We have people contributing to the EOC command staff, operations, and logistics sections. The County is additionally working on contingency planning regarding resupply for EMS, the Hospital and clinics as well as transport options for care of patients at mainland facilities.
“It’s very important to monitor patients experiencing mild COVID-like symptoms as well as those that they have had contact with, so a surveillance team has been set up to monitor patients. At the time of writing (March 26), there are two confirmed cases in the county with 15 tests pending results and 64 total tests. Work is also occurring developing plans in the eventuality that the mainland Hospitals and [Peace Island Medical Center] reach capacity.”
We have a “Frequently Asked Questions About the Fire & EMS Response to Novel Coronavirus COVID-19” flyer posted on the SJCPHD No. 1 and SJI EMS websites — http://sjcphd.org/ and https://www.sanjuanems.org/. It also has phone numbers for all the island EMS and Fire and Rescue Stations should you have additional questions during this time. The county has many resources on their website. Our commissioners are staying informed of the daily information that the EOC releases for our community are very much paying attention to the situation as it develops.
This is a historic time for us with the outbreak, spread, and prevention of this pandemic disease COVID-19. We all have the opportunity to make a difference in our country and communities. Let’s stay informed, abide by the mandates given to us, and help those around us and we will come out the other side a closer community.