Clark Fork Valley Hospital CEO announces changes due to COVID-19

| March 26, 2020 9:22 AM

As you can probably imagine it has been a busy week at Clark Fork Valley Hospital.

The events that you see reported in the media generally result in some item CFVH must respond to. Many of these developments impact our day to day operations of caring for our community as we have for so many years.

We want to make your experience with us seem as “normal” as possible, but some things will be different. We will ask you to complete a screening questionnaire allowing us to determine the most appropriate venue of care.

You may need to wear a mask, and you may wait, or be seen, in a different area than you have during a previous visit.

Beginning Monday, March 23 on the hospital campus we will generally be directing patients with flu-like symptoms to our

newly established respiratory illness clinic located directly across from the Plains Family Medicine entrance.

In the Thompson Falls and Hot Springs offices we will be scheduling individuals with flu-like symptoms to come in after 3 p.m.

If you are not suffering from flu-like symptoms, we will see you before that time to limit your exposure to respiratory viruses. This will allow us to perform a deep clean after closing those clinics each night and be ready for patients in the morning.

Starting tomorrow, Friday, March 20, we have established a nurse call line (826-4889) that will function from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We are encouraging community members to call this line first if they are suffering from respiratory illness. Most illness associated with the coronavirus can be cared for at home.

The nurse will assess your condition over the phone and help you decide if a visit to the clinic or Emergency Room is necessary. The nurse will also give you advice about what to do if and when your condition changes.

By using this hotline, you may be able to avoid a visit to the clinic and help us to preserve valuable resources for those who need them most.

I want employers to be aware of a Center for Disease Control resource that outlines how you should evaluate the work status of employees that have respiratory illness. It covers a number of questions that arise.

If employers use this resource it will make a positive impact on the ability of our healthcare system to meet the developing demands of patient care. It will also be the most expeditious way to have your worker return to work.

The website is https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.

We are cancelling all elective surgeries and procedures scheduled at least through April 2. This is consistent with national and regional efforts being taken to support social distancing and to preserve certain supplies for emergent and urgent needs.

Our ongoing evaluation of the situation will determine if further schedule changes are required. If you are impacted by this decision, rest assured that each circumstance will be evaluated specifically and we will work to schedule your non-urgent procedure as soon as it is practical.

At this point, there has been no diagnosis of Covid-19 illness in Sanders County. We do have ready access to Covid testing as deemed necessary by our providers.

We have completed testing on a handful of suspicious cases and at this point all of them have come back negative. Please remember that the best way to protect yourself from Covid-19 and all other viruses is to avoid large gatherings, maintain a safe social distance, stay home as much as possible, and wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

I understand that this unexpected pandemic has heavily impacted all of our lives and I wish I could predict when things will return to normal.

I can only guarantee that they will, but I can’t know when. You can be assured that the providers and staff at Clark Fork Valley Hospital have the best interest of our community in mind in everything we do.

Thank you for placing your trust in us, and stay healthy!

- Gregory S. Hanson, MD, President/CEO, Clark Fork Valley Hospital.