The Times 

As COVID-19 surges in Walla Walla, Providence asks people not to come to ER unless it is an emergency


August 26, 2021

WALLA WALLA—With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, Providence St. Mary Medical Center asks people not to come to the emergency department unless they are experiencing medical emergencies such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, high fever, or a traumatic injury. People seeking COVID-19 testing or treatment for mild symptoms or other non-emergency care should not use the emergency department.

“Walla Walla has been incredibly supportive of healthcare workers during the pandemic, but the support we need most is for people to get vaccinated, so they don’t get severely ill, take good care of themselves, and to only come to the Emergency Department if it is an emergency,” said Dr. Cicero Running Crane, medical director of the Providence St. Mary Emergency Department. “The Emergency Department should be used with great discretion so that when someone has a life-threatening illness or injury, we have the staffing and beds available to care for them.”

The Providence St. Mary Emergency Department and Providence Urgent Care are seeing extremely large volumes of patients, including many people with mild COVID-like symptoms seeking testing. This is creating very long wait times.

COVID-19 testing is available at numerous locations in Walla Walla, including at pharmacies where there may be little waiting to receive the test. A list of testing sites is available at

“It is important to remember that most people with mild cases of COVID-19 can recover while isolating at home without medical intervention,” Dr. Running Crane said. “You do not need to come to the Emergency Department unless you have trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, you have trouble staying awake, or your skin takes on a gray or bluish color that may indicate your oxygen levels are declining.”


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