Providence: A Leader in COVID Care
Throughout the pandemic, this health system has emerged as a champion for innovative, safe care.
December 3, 2020
From treating the first U.S. COVID-19 patient to onboarding 10,000 physicians for telehealth to gaining FDA approval for a vaccine trial, Providence has led the way in COVID care, relying on science, data and innovation as its guideposts.
At Provider Solutions & Development, we are honored to be the exclusive physician and advanced practice clinician recruiting partner for Providence, our parent company. Headquartered in Renton, Washington, Providence is a nationally recognized health care organization with 119,000 employees serving in 51 hospitals and 800 clinics. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been placing a special focus on their COVID-relief roles as we continue to recruit for more than 400 open positions across its seven-state footprint, from Alaska to California to Texas.
In January 2020, when the first U.S. patient tested positive for coronavirus at an Urgent Care clinic in Washington, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was immediately notified.
Knowing that nearby Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, was designated and equipped to handle patients during the Ebola scare of 2014, CDC scientists called Dr. George Diaz, who leads Providence’s infectious disease department. They asked him to admit the 35-year-old man who had recently returned from a visit with his family in Wuhan, China — he was America’s COVID-19 “patient zero.”
Dr. Diaz admitted the patient into Providence Regional’s biocontainment ward, where he was treated in physical isolation with the aid of a telehealth robot. When the patient’s condition deteriorated, Dr. Diaz consulted with CDC physicians and took a chance on an intravenous drug called remdesivir, an experimental antiviral medication that had shown promise in treating two other previous illnesses caused by coronaviruses, SARS and MERS.
When the medication turned the man’s condition around literally overnight, remdesivir became one of the first widely used drugs in the nation’s arsenal against the pandemic.
Rapid Tech Response
Using robots to treat isolated patients is one of the many ways Providence has utilized technology to provide safe care in a healthcare environment completely disrupted by COVID.
Days after the first COVID patient was admitted, the health system’s IT department updated its A.I.-powered chatbot, Grace, to provide a coronavirus self-assessment allowing patients to determine whether or not they need to be tested. The chatbot enables patients to schedule appointments with the appropriate clinician and provided much-needed triage in the midst of the hectic early days of the pandemic.
In addition, Providence recognized early on that virtual visits were the safest way to provide care. The health system prioritized onboarding and training 10,000 physicians in a matter of weeks to practice itelehealth for routine appointments. This quick transition enabled 300,000 visits in April 2020 alone to take place through phones, tablets or computers.
Today, Providence continues to help under-resourced geographic areas by using telehospitalists and teleICU physicians to monitor patients, support on-site nurses, and supplement where local physicians cannot cover the surge in care.
A Vaccine for the Most Vulnerable
Providence is known for its commitment to a universal mission – to provide compassionate care to all who need its services, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Since the pandemic began, researchers at the Providence Cancer Institute have been working nonstop to develop a vaccine that will specifically protect older adults, who have an increased risk for life-threatening illness from COVID.
In October 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted them approval for a clinical trial, and in December 2020, the study opened. It is one of 18 vaccines in clinical trials in the U.S.
Providence’s vaccine is unique in that it incorporates immunotherapy expertise that scientists have developed throughout three decades of cancer research at the renowned Earle A. Chiles Research Institute and Robert W. Franz Cancer Center.
The trial and continued monitoring is being conducted at Oregon’s Providence Portland Medical Center and will focus on people 50 and older, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and who may not receive adequate protection from other vaccines currently in development.
As our country braces for a second wave of COVID, we want to take a moment to say thank you to the healthcare heroes at Providence, who are not only fighting the disease on the front lines, but who are strategizing, innovating and working with incredible speed and skill to combat this pandemic at every turn.
PS&D is proud to be serving this leading healthcare organization.