COVID-19 Information For Our Patients
The providers of Northwest Gastroenterology/Northwest Endoscopy Center (NWGI/NWEC) care about your well-being, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the latest update on our response to COVID-19.
(1) Endoscopic procedures: Based on guidance from our professional GI societies and the State of Washington, we postponed all non-urgent endoscopic procedures (e.g., EGD and colonoscopy) from mid-March 2020 to mid-May 2020. However, we have resumed all endoscopic procedures; and we encourage patients to undergo recommended exams. As the pandemic may persist for another 12-24 months, it will be important to stay current with medical care during this time. To keep patients safe, we have instituted substantial changes. All patients need a negative COVID-19 via nasal swab (PCR-RT) 24-48 hours prior to any endoscopic procedure. We are having the COVID-19 tests performed at Northwest Laboratory (https://www.nwlaboratory.com/coronavirus-information/), which has a drive-through service that accommodates a patient every 5 minutes. If you test positive, your procedure will either be postponed until you recover or diverted to a hospital-based procedure if the procedure is urgent. We are screening all providers, staff, and patients for COVID-19 symptoms. We are having all providers, staff, and patients wear masks in our facility. We are not allowing patients’ escorts to enter the building. We are continuing careful cleaning and disinfecting of all procedure rooms between patients. We are working diligently to reduce the backlog of procedures that built up during the March-to-May period. If you are awaiting a low-risk procedure (e.g., screening colonoscopy) but you develop more worrisome symptoms such as rectal bleeding or unintentional weight loss, please contact us immediately so that we can expedite your procedure.
(2) Telemedicine clinic visits: We can keep our clinic patients safer by seeing them via telemedicine visits. For the foreseeable future, we are using https://nwgastroenter.doxy.me for all clinic visits. The link is also on our website (https://nwgastro.com) under the main picture. You do NOT need to log onto your patient portal account to access it. Once you are on https://nwgastroenter.doxy.me, select the NWGI provider you are scheduled to see. You will be placed in a virtual waiting room. When your NWGI provider is ready to activate your visit, you will interact with the provider via webcam. If you have not seen us in the past few months, you will be contacted by a member of our clinic nursing staff prior to your appointment to check on any changes in medical conditions or medications. After your telemedicine visit, our staff will arrange any needed labs, imaging, or procedures. If your provider thinks that you need to be seen in person, an in-person visit can be arranged, though this will be rare.
(3) Infusion services: Our Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis patients on infused biologic therapies, including Remicade, Inflectra, and Entyvio, will continue to get their infusions via our center. We have changed the infusion room layout so that patients are in separate rooms by moving two of the infusion chairs into clinic exam rooms. We have focused extra energy on sanitizing each patient’s area after infusions. We continue to use our main infusion RN (Anna) for most infusions though Anna is training a new infusion RN (Jillian) to provide infusion care on Fridays and to eliminate any interruption in infusion services if Anna is not available. All infusion patients and RNs will wear masks during infusions. Given that most office visits have been converted to telemedicine visits, our office is mostly free of non-infusion patients, which further minimizes person-to-person contact when infusion patients arrive for infusions.
(4) Health monitoring of providers and staff: As many COVID-19 cases cause only minimal symptoms, especially in younger individuals, we are screening every provider and staff member for COVID-19 symptoms as they arrive at work. Any provider or staff member who fails the screening process or is sick will be sent home.
Our response to COVID-19 will continue to evolve. Please check back in the future if you have an upcoming appointment to get the latest information.