15:34 PM

Local health entities partner for emergency preparedness regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Local health entities including Kalispell Regional Healthcare, North Valley Hospital, and the Flathead City-County Health Department are working closely on preparedness, communications, and awareness around the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation.

“We are responding to this potential public health crisis by implementing our collaborative valley-wide emergency response and disaster readiness plans,” said Michelle Kimball, Emergency Preparedness Program Manager for Kalispell Regional Healthcare. “As community partners, we are consistently evaluating new information and coordinating our readiness, communications, and response planning.”

The Flathead City-County Health Department has set up a website specifically for the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) issue at: https://flatheadhealth.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/ in addition to an automated public information line at: (406) 751-8188.

Public Health Officer Hillary Hanson of the Flathead City-County Health Department explains that the best action the public can take at this point is to be diligent in hand washing and stay home if you are sick. “This is a health concern and we are proactively working with our community partners to prepare. As community members everyone can do their part by taking steps to protect their health,” says Hanson.

Hanson further explains that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. The CDC recommends that facemasks be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others and by health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings.

To understand current criteria for testing and other risk concerns, please visit the CDC information on evaluations here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-criteria.html

The state health department has clarified that testing at the state level should be available in Montana this week. If you have a health concern but are not in these groups, please call your primary care provider with questions. To prevent spread of the virus, make sure you have a flu shot, be diligent about hand washing, and stay home and away from public spaces if you are sick.

The public is encouraged to visit the Flathead City-County Health Department website listed above for up to date information. Updates will also be posted on Kalispell Regional Healthcare and North Valley Hospital websites and social media pages.