Central Washington resources to support high priority long-term care needs in COVID-19 fight

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Central Washington resources to support high priority long-term care needs in COVID-19 fight

CAMP MURRAY, WA – After consulting with local authorities, Gov. Jay Inslee and Vice Admiral (ret.) Raquel Bono, M.D, announced today a decision to utilize Central Washington medical resources to ensure our most vulnerable are protected.

The state has requested about 100 U.S. Health and Human Services (HSS) personnel and other resources recently deployed to the former Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima now focus on long-term care facilities where COVID-19 is occurring in other parts of the state.

The Astria facility, which was identified as suitable for 250 low-acuity patients to relieve local hospitals, will be retained and can be quickly reopened in the event of a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Inslee said the decision was a positive move in the fight against the coronavirus. “Thanks to the cooperation of communities and businesses across Washington, ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ is slowing the spread of the virus,” he said. “But we can’t let up now, and we need to continue to explore a range of options and assess the best use of our alternative care facilities to ensure they are always available where the need is greatest.”

 “When we first began aggressive hospital surge planning, we were concerned that Eastern Washington lacked the same capacity as Western Washington,” said Bono, director, Washington State COVID-19 Health System Response Management. “However, Yakima and the surrounding area have done such a good job, building their capacity and creating their own relief system at the local ‘Freedom Field,’ that the state can now take more of a support role.”

“Meanwhile, we’re tracking long-term care facilities and seeing a lot of positive cases amongst patients and the health care workers who care for them,” Bono added. “It’s essential to shift our resources to these vulnerable populations. In doing so, we will be able to isolate people who are sick, reduce the general rate of infection, and ultimately reduce the volume of COVID-positive patients requiring hospitalization.”

Bono said the Astria decision was made after consulting with labor, hospital and local health leaders, as well as the Regional Emergency and Disaster Healthcare Coalition (REDi), during field visits to Yakima and other communities across Eastern Washington over the past two days.

“I wanted to be certain that these more rural centers were well prepared for COVID-19,” she said. “Listening to experts on the ground gave me a lot of confidence that they are very well coordinated and prepared.”

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