Clark Fork Hospital CEO gives COVID-19 update

by Gregory Hanson
| April 2, 2020 11:26 AM

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

So far, so good. That was my answer to an out-of-state family member who asked me how things were going at our hospital.

We have sent 13 tests; all have returned negative. There is no identified COVID-19 case in Sanders County.

We have not run out of supplies. Our medical system has not been over whelmed. She could not say the same. This family member is a nurse employed at a hospital that has been overrun with COVID-19 patients.

She is in the middle of a place that is experiencing shortages of supplies, overwhelming numbers of patients, and staff that are becoming sick. But she goes to work every day and cares for the patients who actually are known to be infected.

I share this for two reasons.

First, the time may come when our hospital staff are in a similar situation. I have no doubt they will continue to come to work and care for anyone in need.

Your friends, neighbors, and family members that work here care deeply about you and will sacrifice to meet your needs. I have seen them do it before. It is an honor to work side by side with these folks. I hope you take a moment to say thank you if you know or meet of them.

Second, I want to stress that this is a real threat. Though we should not act out of panic, and our efforts could dramatically alter the course seen in other places, we need to take it seriously.

We can discuss all day how more people have died from influenza, how we have seen other viral infections turnout to “not be a big deal”, or any number of other reasons to not be concerned.

But, keep in mind that we don’t see influenza overwhelm healthcare systems in the world like COVID-19 has, at least not since the 1918 flu pandemic.

I stress this to drive home one point: PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES ARE IMPORTANT (SOCIAL DISTANCING IS IMPORTANT, HAND WASHING IS IMPORTANT).

The careful adherence to these two practices will do more to calm this pandemic than anything we do here at the hospital. All we can do is help in recovery if help is needed (thankfully, most people will recover without treatment).

If you really want to do something to show your gratitude to those in my first point, then follow the second. All the staff at the hospital will appreciate it.

I want to give a shout out to our business community. I know these owners care for their employees. They want their doors open and they want to keep you working. These businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, supplying the needed jobs for us to be able to live in this great place.

These are difficult times for them so we are personally reaching out to each one offering help understanding how they can keep you working or return to work.

If you are an employer and we don’t reach you it is because we don’t know you, so please reach out to us.

Call Janie Hom at 826-4669 or email her at jhom@cfvh.org.

We are working hard to do our part to mitigate the affect this virus has on our community. It has no doubt required us to make changes that are inconvenient.

New clinic, new phone numbers (both now in place), new schedules, changes in policy of hospital visitation and who may join you at clinic visits, if they occur.

Questions to complete every time you might come for care or visit. We have already had some folks angry about some of these changes. I wish we could have better met your expectations.

However, protecting you, our patients, and our staff is of paramount importance so we will continue to institute changes needed to meet those goals.

Our community has been overwhelmingly understanding and supportive of our efforts.

Thank You!

This is truly a great place to live.

- Dr. Gregory S. Hanson is President/CEO of Clark Fork Valley Hospital.