St. Peter’s Health Expands COVID-19 Testing, Prevention Measures

March 16, 2020

St. Peter’s Health announced today the implementation of comprehensive prevention measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Building on the previous visitor restrictions, the new measures include expanded visitor restrictions to only essential caregivers, a drive-up testing site and a 24/7 call center.

As the community’s health care system, our priority is the health and well-being of our patients, 1,600+ caregivers and the community. We are focused on limiting the spread of illness, treating patients who are ill and protecting people in our community. 

What to do if you are ill

COVID-19 symptoms that are NOT worsening or life-threatening

St. Peter’s Health encourages all community members who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to self-quarantine at home unless their symptoms are severe or worsening. COVID-19 symptoms include fever of 100.4 or greater, worsening shortness of breath and new cough. Self-quarantine means staying in your home and away from others to monitor your symptoms for 14 days from symptom onset or a known exposure to someone who has tested positive to COVID-19. Individuals who are self-quarantining should isolate themselves as much as possible from other household members (in a separate room and bathroom, if possible), not go to work or public places, disinfect high-touch items and practice good hand hygiene. The 24/7 St. Peter’s Health COVID-19 Call Center is available to answer non-emergency questions.

COVID-19 symptoms that ARE worsening

Community members who are exhibiting worsening symptoms and feel they should seek care are asked to call their provider ahead of their visit. Their provider will give guidance on appropriate next steps. For those who do not have a primary care provider, call the 24/7 St. Peter’s Health COVID-19 Call Center to answer non-emergency questions or call ahead before you visit the urgent care (406-457-4180). Care should only be sought in the emergency room if symptoms are severe or life-threatening, or if the urgent care and other provider offices are closed.

COVID-19 symptoms that are life-threatening

Visit the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

As of Monday, March 16, the following measures are in place at St. Peter’s Health:

1) Full visitor restrictions and visitor screening

St. Peter’s Health is no longer allowing visitors so we can keep everyone as safe as possible and limit the spread of illness. There are a few exceptions to this temporary policy restricting visitors:

  • Parents/guardians accompanying minors seeking care  
  • End-of-life care situations
  • One support person for labor and delivery patients on the Women and Children’s Unit
  • One essential* caregiver for Emergency Room patients
  • One essential* caregiver for Urgent Care patients
  • One essential* caregiver for essential clinic visits at all ambulatory locations

* Essential caregivers include parents/guardians of minor patients, or caregivers assisting the elderly or people with disabilities.

All essential visitors to our facilities will be screened, and those displaying symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath will not be allowed in our facilities. All public entrances to the Regional Medical Center (except the Emergency Room and Urgent Care) will close at 6:00 p.m. until further notice.

2) Drive-up testing site

Drive-up COVID-19 and influenza testing is available for symptomatic patients who have a provider order for the test. The drive-up testing location is NOT open to those without a provider order. The goal of drive-up testing is to prevent exposure in our clinics, urgent care locations and emergency room. The drive-up testing site is located behind the St. Peter’s Health Medical Group building at 2550 Broadway Street and will be open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm until further notice. Patients will be asked to go home and self-quarantine immediately following the test until test results are received. They will receive a call from their provider with results and further instruction.

3) Cancellation of all elective surgeries, procedures and non-essential clinic visits

These visits include wellness exams and ‘Welcome to Medicare’ visits. The Operating Room is still open 24/7/365 for emergency surgeries. Patients will receive notification by phone from their provider’s office regarding all cancellations.

4) 24/7 call center

The St. Peter’s Health COVID-19 Call Center is open 24/7 to field questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms, testing and prevention. The Call Center can be reached at 406-457-4180.

5) Cancellation of all events and classes

St. Peter’s Health has canceled all events and classes until further notice.

6) Modified sick leave and telecommuting policies to encourage staff to stay home when ill or work from home, when possible

St. Peter’s Health asks the community to follow all everyday prevention measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and encourages the community to get their COVID-19 information from trusted health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and Lewis and Clark Public Health.