In response to the increase of coronavirus cases in Idaho, Benewah Community Hospital is asking people to not walk into the walk-in clinic.

“We are asking that patients treat the walk-in clinic as a call-in clinic,” Benewah Community Hospital Executive Assistant Rebecca Plante said. “They should call ahead if they want to be seen instead of walking in.”

According to Mrs. Plante a receptionist will then transfer the call or speak with a provider to determine if the caller will be seen. Some visits may be deferred to a later date.

“If it is a routine visit like an annual physical or something that can be pushed back a couple of weeks we are asking patients to wait,” Mrs. Plante said. “We want to limit the number of people visiting while still seeing more urgent cases.”

Nurses are also placing patients in screening rooms more quickly in order to promote social distancing.

Mrs. Plante said that patients might find themselves waiting for longer than expected to see a provider despite being placed in a screening room.

Visits to the clinic have decreased.

“Volumes have gone down,” Mrs. Plante said. “We think a lot of people are self-isolating. So we are seeing fewer patients.”

Additional measures taken by BCH include reduced building access, postponement of elective procedures, closing the billing office, instituting curb-side café service and additional cleaning by housekeeping staff.

The billing office is still accepting payments over the phone and via a drop box located at the Eighth Street circle drive.

Orders can be placed with the café by calling 245-7616. A staff member will meet you outside at the Seventh Street stairs with your order.

The hospital’s no visitor policy is also still in effect.

According to Mrs. Plante, everyone entering the building, including staff, is subject to a temperature check and asked health questions. And anyone arriving at the hospital because they suspect they have coronavirus should call the ER so that they can be screened outside of the hospital.

The measures are strictly precautionary as there are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Benewah County as of this writing.

The Panhandle Health District has confirmed six cases in Kootenai County as of March 22.

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