Billings Clinic opening Pre-Procedural Testing Center, Enhances Safety Measures
With a plan to open more in-person clinic visits the week of April 27 and to phase in elective surgical procedures on May 4, Billings Clinic will open a new curbside COVID-19 Pre-Procedural Testing Center on Tuesday, April 28. Patients scheduled for procedures that require intubation or aerosol-generating procedures are tested from their cars at the center, located at N. Broadway and 8th Ave. N outside near SameDay Care.
“COVID-19 has required us to re-think the way we function as an organization to get patients the vital health care they need in the safest way possible,” said Dr. John Pender, Billings Clinic Chief of Surgery. “We understand that it has been challenging on our patients to delay procedures, and we are working quickly, safely and diligently to ensure measures are in place to provide these procedures while protecting our patients.”
Testing samples from elective procedure patients are sent to Mayo Clinic for analysis and take about four to six business days for results. Patients will need to self-quarantine for the period of time between the test sample being collected and the date of their procedure. Elective procedures are surgeries and other procedures that are planned in advance and are performed in the hospital Operating Room, Endoscopy or Surgery Center. Billings Clinic discontinued elective procedures and limited in-person clinic visits in March due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases and limited testing capacity at the time.
Billings Clinic has also put many other safety measures in place at all locations.
- Patients are screened for fever and respiratory symptoms at the entrances. All employees are also screened when they come to work.
- A universal mask policy for patients and staff on all campuses is in place, requiring masks to be worn at Billings Clinic. Masks for patients and staff are being distributed at all open entrances.
- No visitors are allowed on campus unless a caregiver is needed to assist the patient.
- Patients are being asked to arrive for appointments right when they start.
- Hand sanitizer is available in many locations for good hand hygiene practices.
- Waiting and common areas have been redesigned to allow for 6 feet of social distancing.
- Common areas and clinic rooms are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
The safety measures also include limiting the number of patients on campus by staggering clinic appointment schedules and expanding hours of operation, as well as innovating the registration process to avoid lines. Billings Clinic is also encouraging Virtual Care whenever possible, which allows patients to have an appointment by video from the comfort of their home.