COVID-19: St. Charles announces testing thresholds; drive-up RX service, new steps to protect patients/staff

St. Charles Health System on Monday released some thresholds for COVID-19 testing as it rolled out a series of steps to protect patients and caregivers from the spread of COVID-19.

“In response to a growing nationwide shortage of medical supplies, including personal protective gear like masks, as well as nasopharyngeal swabs, which are used to collect samples to test for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, the health system has changed its criteria for testing,” the hospital said in a post on its website.

In order to be tested, a patient must have a fever above 100.4 within the past 24 hours, a cough, shortness of breath AND one of the following:

    • Age greater than 60 years, or
    • Immunosuppressed or
    • A chronic disease of one of the following:
      • Cardiovascular system, or
      • Pulmonary system, or
      • Diabetes Mellitus

In an email to subscribers, Joe Sluka, St. Charles Health System President and CEO, said the swabs are running very low throughout Oregon “and we believe it’s unlikely we’ll be able to get more.”

“Therefore, we simply cannot test people who are worried but feel fine,” he said.


  • The Community Pharmacy at St. Charles Bend is now offering drive-up service. Starting today, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Emergency Department patients, community members and caregivers will be able to pick up their prescriptions at an RV trailer located behind the triage tent outside of the Emergency Department. (Prescriptions for discharging patients will continue to be picked up at the Community Pharmacy inside the hospital.)
  • St. Charles Outpatient Rehabilitation has closed its services and canceled appointment for two weeks. The goal is to reduce the number of people visiting facilities in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Patients will be notified of the cancelations by the Rehab team.
  • Visitor restrictions in effect. Simply put, visitors are not allowed at the four hospitals save for a few exceptions. Read more about visitor restrictions here.
  • Caregivers are entering St. Charles Bend through access control points. The health system is requiring all caregivers and providers to enter the Bend hospital through the Family Birthing Center/Medical Diagnostic Unit entrance on the south part of the campus where they are being screened for fever and cough.
  • All four hospitals are starting to use external triage tents. The Bend hospital is now triaging patients outside the Emergency Departments, and other campuses will begin shortly.

In anticipation of an influx of patients, the health system is making some significant changes to how and where patients are cared for in our communities. To best manage patient flow across the system, the following will occur starting this week:

  • High-acuity patients, as well as all pediatric patients, will be cared for at the Bend hospital.
  • Lower-acuity patients will be cared for at the Madras, Prineville and Redmond hospitals. This will include hospice patients, as well as patients who need long-term care but cannot be transferred to a skilled nursing facility.

All four hospitals have begun to evaluate their patient counts and identify which patients may need to be transferred to another St. Charles facility. These changes are being made proactively to ensure there are adequate beds in the event of a patient surge.

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