In an effort to expand access to affordable care during the global COVID-19 outbreak, CHI Franscisan is suspending patient billing for testing and treatments of the virus.
The CHI Franciscan system, as part of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, includes eight acute care hospitals and more than 200 clinics — all of which are covered in the billing suspension effort. This includes St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way.
CommonSpirit Health, which serves hundreds of hospitals and clinics in 21 U.S. states, will suspend sending patient bills related to the testing and treatment of COVID-19, according to a news release sent March 18.
“The last thing our patients should worry about if they experience symptoms characteristic of this coronavirus is the cost of seeking care,” wrote Lloyd H. Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health. “While we cannot yet know how COVID-19 will spread in the days and weeks ahead, our care sites will remain available to our communities.”
CommonSpirit will continue to work with payers and federal, state, and local officials to determine the cost-sharing associated with providing care related to COVID-19, the release states.
The most important thing now is for those who experience symptoms of the coronavirus to contact their health care provider and seek medical care if directed to do so, Dean added.
Anyone with concerns about coronavirus exposure or has mild symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath are encouraged to call a medical professional immediately.
If someone experiences severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, or new confusion, they are encouraged to seek immediate medical care and let the care team know about their respiratory symptoms.
So far, CHI has facilitated more than 300 COVID-19 tests and has treated multiple confirmed and suspected cases of the virus, according to March 18 information released by the organization.
Last week, CHI opened triage centers for high-risk patients or those who may have possibly been exposed to the virus. Since the March 11 opening, CHI has screened more than 10,000 patients and visitors at the 11 triage centers.
CHI Franciscan facilities are also postponing and rescheduling elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures as well as all routine visits, adult well visits and well-child checks.
Along with the care facilities and triage centers, CHI is also offering patients exhibiting mild signs of a coronavirus infection the ability to be triaged via a free video call by visiting franciscanvirtualcare.org and using the code “COVID19”, or by download the iOS mobile app in the Apple store or the Android app in the Google Play store.