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UPDATE: The Benton County Health Department announced the county’s first known coronavirus-related death on Monday, Mar. 30. The patient, a female in her late 80’s with underlying medical conditions, was receiving treatment at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.

Good Samaritan has a detailed surge plan ready in case the hospital sees an influx of patients that carries them over normal capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Adam Brady, MD, of Samaritan Infectious Disease.

“We can convert areas of the hospital campus that are not normally used for treating hospitalized patients to increase our capacity,” Brady said via email. “We would also work with local county and state health departments as needed to identify additional sites.”

Samaritan suspended all elective surgeries, procedures and clinic visits at all its hospitals and clinics last week, according to Brady.

“This will help conserve supplies and keep health care teams available to care for coronavirus patients and others with pressing medical needs, and keep our patients safe by reducing the chances of exposure to the novel coronavirus,” Brady said.

Benton County currently has 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with two patients being treated in area hospitals, as of March 30.

In addition, as of March 19, Samaritan has updated and heightened visitor restrictions at all its facilities in order to promote social distancing and reduce patient exposure to the virus. Patients are not allowed visitors unless they meet specific requirements, which they are then allowed one designated healthy visitor of age 12 or older.

“Fortunately, the majority of those cases will not require hospitalization, but many will, and we are doing everything we can to prepare for them,” Brady said. “Social distancing and staying at home unless you need to go out, and basic precautions like washing our hands, covering coughs and sneezes, not touching our faces and staying home when we are sick, will help us avoid spreading disease and help keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”

Brady said Samaritan has been working since January to prepare the hospital system for patients with COVID-19, putting many policies and procedures in place to “ensure we are prepared for the challenge that awaits.”

While Samaritan is able to collect samples to test for COVID-19, actual testing is done off-site. Due to the nationwide shortage of testing supplies, Samaritan is currently prioritizing testing for healthcare workers, people who live in close quarters or for those who work in public service jobs, such as emergency medical services, firefighters and police officers.

“We are asking people who have a fever or respiratory infection symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath, to call first before visiting a clinic,” Brady said. “Patients may also complete an E-Visit at samhealth.org/MyChart. Choose the E-Visit type ‘Coronavirus Concerns’ for a free assessment of their symptoms and a determination of whether testing is needed.”

For more information on testing, current visitor restrictions or other information related to COVID-19, readers can visit samhealth.org/Coronavirus.

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