Legacy Health Partners - News & Updates

Delivering value and improving health

Home > For Health Professionals > Tools & Resources > Legacy Health Partners > News & Updates > December 2022 > Utilization Corner: Easing the burden on emergency departments and inpatient facilities during respiratory illness surge

Utilization Corner: Easing the burden on emergency departments and inpatient facilities during respiratory illness surge

We express our sincerest gratitude for all you do to care for one another and our patients, especially amid the current surge of respiratory illness hospitalizations. Here are some ways primary care and pediatric practices can help alleviate the burden felt by our emergency departments and inpatient facilities:

  • Immunization: while the current flu vaccine has shown to be quite effective this year, uptake is lagging. Updated COVID-19 bivalent boosters are now available for all persons aged 6 months and older.
    • Utilize phone and website messages to encourage patients to be vaccinated.
    • If vaccinations are available in clinic, offer at all scheduled visits for those who still require immunization
    • If vaccinations are not available in clinic, remind patients at scheduled visits to contact their local pharmacy for immunization and ensure you are listed as the patient’s primary care provider, so you’ll receive notification of immunization
  • Be sure to have an adequate number of same day visits available for sick appointments. This number may need to increase during the flu season to support demand.
  • Some LHP pediatric practices have taken steps to limit patients coming in for rash or stomachaches and only seeing those with respiratory illness and infectious disease to take care of children before they need to be admitted. This helps ensure only the sickest children are being sent to the children’s emergency department.
  • Familiarize your providers and staff with local urgent care options. Urgent cares such as GoHealth are excellent alternatives to ED use for most patients with respiratory illness. Encourage patients to utilize them when clinic schedules are full or after clinic hours. All GoHealth locations can see patients aged 6 months and older. The Cascade Park location in Vancouver and the Cedar Hills both staff pediatricians and pediatric NP’s and can see patients ages 0+.
  • Offer self-care patient education on your clinic website. You might also send patient education via patient portal following patient advice calls. For instance, you might have information on fever management for concerned parents.
  • Stay up to date here regarding available COVID-19 pharmacological treatments as variants change.
  • Continue to encourage both patients and staff to continue diligent hand washing and masking in public spaces. Masking continues to be required in all healthcare settings in Oregon and Washington.
  • Don’t forget Legacy’s One Call system is available 24/7 to assist with placement for patients requiring admission. Calling 1-800-500-9111 is the most efficient way to secure a bed in Legacy Health System.