Submitted by Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente today announced bold steps to continue to address the historic COVID-19 public health crisis facing the state of Washington with a shift to providing the majority of member health care needs through virtual care.
Effective March 18, Kaiser Permanente will lead Washington as one of the first health care organizations to deliver the majority of care virtually, via options including e-visit, Consulting Nurse Service, Care Chat online messaging, and video and phone visits.
“Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in the United States, we have seen the transformation of our community’s and country’s approach to providing care as we face a historic public health care crisis,” said Kaiser Permanente Washington President Susan Mullaney. “It’s challenged elements of delivering care, but most profoundly care delivered in urgent and emergent settings. As this disease continues to spread, we have an imperative to act even more quickly and decisively to protect the care the health and safety of our members, patients, employees, and physicians. Moving to virtual care is a strong stand to help us slow the spread of the virus and preserve the personal protective equipment (PPE) resources needed to care for our community and protect the safety of staff.”
“Kaiser Permanente Washington has been proud to be a leader in our advanced capabilities to provide virtual care,” said Paul Minardi, MD, president and executive medical director of Washington Permanente Medical Group. “By significantly expanding our virtual care capacity, our members will still receive great care from the comfort of their home, and we can increase the number of patients that we can treat. This past week our clinicians provided 51% of care virtually, a dramatic fivefold increase from prior to the viral outbreak.”
Minardi continued, “By offering a broader array of virtual capabilities, we’re showing our patients that we’re here for them to provide the right care at the right time, especially in a moment of uncertainty and crisis. Our moment is now to truly slow the spread of this deadly virus.”
Kaiser Permanente urgent care facilities in Bellevue, Everett, Seattle (Capitol Hill), and Tacoma will continue to triage patients in-person. Medical centers in Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Seattle (Capitol Hill), Silverdale, Spokane (Riverfront), and Tacoma will continue to provide in-person appointments, as well as pharmacy, imaging, and laboratory services. Additional pharmacy service will be available in Spokane at Lidgerwood Medical Center. Kaiser Permanente will proactively reach out to members to convert nonurgent in-person visits to a telehealth option.
In alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Surgeons, Kaiser Permanente Washington physicians are also postponing non-essential surgeries and procedures. Kaiser Permanente has begun contacting patients affected by this decision to discuss options for rescheduling and to address questions.
CareClinic by Kaiser Permanente at Bartell Drugs locations will also temporarily close. Kaiser Permanente’s CareClinic providers will begin serving members virtually.
“The health and safety of Kaiser Permanente members, employees, and the broader communities remains our priority,” said Mullaney. “A threat this large demands leadership and courage, and calls for creative and bold actions to mitigate the impact of the outbreak. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires social distancing in all areas, and we’re ready to support the changing needs of our community.”
Kaiser Permanente members who have questions about their care can contact Member Services at 1-888-901-4636, or call or email their doctor.