HealthQuest Stories

Patient Stories

View All

Subscribe to Our e-Newsletter

View All

Direct Access - Easy way to sign up for a colonoscopy screening

Skagit Regional Health’s Endoscopy Department offers a Direct Access program allowing patients to register, schedule and receive a screening colonoscopy without a doctor’s referral. Healthy adults over the age of 45 who have not had any colon-related symptoms (rectal bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.) or any other major health problems are eligible.

Dr. Porter communicating with staff

The Direct Access program is available at Skagit Valley Hospital and the Arlington Surgery Center. Clinical Manager of Endoscopy Stacy Gonzales, RN, noted that her team sees an average of 90 patients each month who have utilized the self-referral program. 

Patients who have used Direct Access describe the process as “easy” and “simple to use,” and it means just one trip for an appointment. Patients begin the process with a simple phone call or email to the Endoscopy Department’s Direct Access team.

A nurse will contact the patient to review their health history, assist in the registration process and will coordinate an appointment time for the exam. This part of the process can take up to 30 minutes to complete over the phone. We will work with your schedule to ensure you get the care you need. The colonoscopy appointment is typically scheduled to occur within two weeks. 

Patients who do not qualify for Direct Access due to their health history or current symptoms will be connected with Skagit Regional Health's Gastroenterology department for a consult with a GI specialist.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. Regular screening colonoscopy is one of the most powerful means of prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer. Studies show that when colorectal cancer is caught early, it is easier to treat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all men and women aged 45 and older talk with their doctor about getting screened for colorectal cancer.

Current colonoscopy recommendations for adults at average risk for colon cancer include:

  • People 45 to 75 without prior colorectal cancer or polyps AND without any of the factors that define high-risk screening.
  • Test every 10 years if colonoscopy is performed and results are negative.
  • Test every year if Fecal Immunohistochemistry (Stool FIT) is performed. If screening results are positive a colonoscopy will be required to find the suspected cancer and locate and remove cancerous polyps. 
  • Test every three years if Multi-Target Stool DNA (mt-sDNA) is performed. If screening results are positive a colonoscopy will be required to find the suspected cancer and locate and remove cancerous polyps. 
  • People over 75, discuss your screening needs with your provider.

To schedule a colonoscopy through SRH's Direct Access program, please call 360-814-5739.