Western Opens Temporary Respiratory Clinic

Western is opening a temporary respiratory clinic at the university’s main campus in Bellingham on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

The Student Health Center Annex, or temporary respiratory clinic, is located in the first-floor former lock shop space of the Campus Services building. The respiratory clinic is intended to be a separate facility to mitigate any potential risk that may be present as the university eventually transitions to more normal operations. Both the primary Student Health Center and the Annex will serve only Western Students.

The Campus Services Building has long been the home of the primary Student Health Center on the second floor and University Police and, more recently, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, both on the first floor.

The respiratory clinic space has a dedicated HVAC ventilation system, which was designed that way to accommodate the lock shop and has external venting (direct exhaust to the roof). This system will circulate air in a manner that is similar to, or better than, the negative pressure rooms in the primary Student Health Center.

This will not be a COVID-19 testing center. No testing will be done at the respiratory clinic. The temporary clinic will only be open Monday through Friday by appointment, for a couple of hours a day. This is not a drop-in clinic; patients will be informed as to when and how to arrive. The clinic only will be for those students with respiratory symptoms that are more difficult to assess by telemedicine.

There is specific protocol to follow for those who want to use the Student Center Annex. After completing a nurse phone triage and a provider telehealth visit, the respiratory clinic will only be used for that subset of patients who require further assessment including vital signs and a physical exam. Every respiratory illness is not COVID. This assessment is necessary to determine if a patient has pneumonia, bronchitis, or other non-COVID respiratory illnesses as well.

Most respiratory visits will still be managed via telehealth (Western is now seeing as many as 80 student patients a week via telehealth). Student patients deemed clinically at risk for COVID will be sent directly for drive-through testing with Northwest Labs.

The respiratory clinic has a designated separate building entry away from the building’s common access point used during normal business hours.

Planning for the new respiratory clinic was done through the university’s Incident Command Structure (ICS), which was formed to respond to the impact of the pandemic on Western. The health and safety of Western’s students, faculty and staff is Western’s top priority. A full clinical and facilities review occurred before the decision was made on this site, and all safety precautions and recommendations will be met. For more information, please check out the Student Health Center website at https://studenthealth.wwu.edu/.

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Monday, April 27, 2020 - 11:56am

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