COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: The CDC has updated its list of common COVID-19 symptoms, which is not exhaustive:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Symptoms typically appear between 2-14 days after exposure. Some people may be unknowingly infected with the virus and do not have symptoms; however, they can still pass the virus to others.
What is the difference between COVID, the flu, and RSV?
COVID-19, influenza, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are all respiratory illnesses, but each are caused by different viruses.
COVID and the flu share multiple symptoms, so it can be hard to tell which illness you have without testing. It can take longer to show symptoms with COVID, and patients typically are contagious longer. Older children and adults with RSV typically have mild symptoms, but young children and the elderly can become severely ill.
For more detailed information about the similarities and differences between flu and COVID, click here.
Please click here for a more general comparison of COVID, the flu, and RSV.
Q: How can I reduce my risk of contracting the virus?
A: See the COVID-19 Resources link list to the right on this webpage for more specific information.
Okanogan County Public Health keeps track of current vaccine locations, which you can find HERE.
- Mask up if you have symptoms of respiratory illness to avoid spreading illness to others.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.
- If your hands aren’t soiled, use a 60-95% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Stay away from those who are sick.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially while out in public.
- Stay home if you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow to reduce the spread of germs around you.
People at higher risk for serious complications from the COVID-19 virus include:
- People 60 years old and older
- People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
- People who have weakened immune systems
- People who are pregnant
Q: What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed?
A: First, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and limit your contact with other people as much as possible.
If you don’t have symptoms but need a test:
- Come to the hospital’s main entrance between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Our clinic, Three Rivers Family Medicine, often has at-home test kits provided free by Okanogan County Public Health. For more information, call (509) 689-3749.
If you’ve been exposed or have non-emergent symptoms and want a test:
- Please call our clinic at (509) 689-3749. Our staff will do some preliminary intake paperwork with you over the phone and provide directions to our private testing area at the hospital.
- We may ask you to wait 2-3 days to be tested if you have symptoms, or 5 days if you’ve been exposed but have no symptoms. Testing too early can lead to false negatives.
Current turnaround time for tests:
- Our Laboratory team can give you results within 24 hours.
If you’re experiencing serious COVID-19 symptoms and need immediate care:
- Our emergency room is open 24/7.
- Directions: Please enter the main hospital parking lot and drive to the northeast end of the building, where you’ll find the ER parking near a big, red EMERGENCY sign.
- Optional: You can call the ER ahead of arrival at (509) 689-2517 to let our staff know you’re coming so they can be prepared to help you.
Severe symptoms to watch for
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Blue or gray tint to skin, lips, or nail beds (depending on your skin color)
- Inability to wake up or stay awake
*Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the dispatch operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask before medical help arrives.
Q: If I have/had COVID-19, how long do I need to isolate?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends following these guidelines.
If you test positive for COVID-19
Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should:
- Stay home for 5 days. Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others or leave your house.
- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can end isolation.
- Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
- If you have/had a fever, make sure you are fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the aid of medication) before ending your isolation.
- If you had symptoms and severe illness (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), you should isolate for 10 days.
Q: What is Three Rivers Hospital doing to manage COVID-19?
A: The state Department of Health has dropped its mask mandate for healthcare facilities effective April 3, 2023. However, due to an increase in COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in Okanogan County, Three Rivers has decided the following:
- Staff and providers will continue to mask up while performing patient care tasks.
- We’ll screen patients during registration for symptoms of respiratory illness, and request that anyone with symptoms wear a mask.
- Masking is optional in non-patient care areas of our hospital and clinic.
Please refer to the Okanogan Public Health COVID-19 Information website for current data in our area and other resources.
Where are COVID-19 patients in the hospital?
Three Rivers does take care of lower acuity COVID-19 patients. Hospitalizations have decreased, but we still sometimes need to admit COVID-19 inpatients in 2023. Any inpatients with highly infectious illnesses are roomed apart from the rest of our inpatients. Our negative pressure room in the Emergency Department is ready to go in case a patient needs to be isolated.
We regularly review and update policies and procedures to guide the care of patients suspected to be infected with COVID-19.
Q: What is the visitor policy at Three Rivers?
Three Rivers understands it’s important to include families as part of the healing process. However, because exposure to respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 can have a harmful impact on our patients and others, we must take extra steps for infection prevention. Our team continuously revisits this policy to ensure it’s fair and up-to-date with current guidelines.
Update: April 2023
Three Rivers Hospital has unlocked its front main entrance doors, and we’re once again permitting visitors on a restricted basis (see guidelines below). The door to our emergency entrance is still locked, but simply pick up the wall-mounted phone in the enclosed entryway to reach our nursing staff.
We also offer virtual visits between inpatients and their loved ones. The Three Rivers Hospital Foundation provided us with WiFi-connected tablets for this purpose.
Our Policy: *Please note in all cases visitors will only be allowed if they do not have symptoms of respiratory infection (e.g., fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, new loss of taste of smell, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose).
- Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
- Visitors to the facility are limited to only those essential for the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care (e.g., care partner, parent).
- In-person visits should be scheduled so nursing staff is able to show visitors the proper protocol for hand hygiene and PPE when entering and leaving the patient room.
- Visitors are not allowed to be present during aerosol generating procedures or other procedures, unless necessary as part of patient care.
- Visitors may only visit the patient’s room. They should not go to other locations in the facility.
- Outpatient Services
- We encourage patients to come alone to their appointments. However:
- Patients who have a scheduled appointment or an outpatient procedure may have up to two visitors accompany them.
- We encourage patients to come alone to their appointments. However:
- Emergency Department
- Our Charge Nurse and ER team consider visitors based on each patient’s condition and situation.
- Additional Guidelines for all Allowed Visitors
- Visitors must enter through the Three Rivers Hospital main entrance between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Visitors must follow masking requirements at all times while in the facility.
- As of April 3, 2023, the state Department of Health is dropping its masking requirement in medical facilities. Three Rivers Hospital will continue to request masks for those who have respiratory illnesses.
If you have questions about our visitor policy, or other non-emergent questions:
Q: What can I expect if I’m having surgery at Three Rivers?
Three Rivers Hospital and Three Rivers Family Medicine have implemented internal policies to assure patients, staff, and surgeons are protected from COVID-19.
- All patients scheduled for surgery will have a symptom tracker screen performed to rule out respiratory illness. If tracker results indicate, a molecular COVID test will be requested before patient is taken to surgery.
- If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, elective surgical procedures will be delayed until the patient is no longer infectious and has demonstrated recovery from COVID-19.
- Urgent/Emergent surgeries may still take place as scheduled if the patient is positive, with extra infection prevention precautions in place.
Depending on our inpatient volumes during COVID-19 surges, we may reserve the right to postpone or cancel elective procedures. Our leadership team monitors the patient census on a continual basis.
For more pre-surgery information, click here.
Three Rivers Hospital on Facebook will have updated information as it becomes available.
Okanogan County Public Health COVID-19 Information – Report your at-home positive test results here if you need help with groceries, bills, etc. while you are out of work.
Okanogan County Emergency Management – Sign up for text, phone, and/or email alerts here.