Medical Response Efforts Continue as COVID-19 is Confirmed in Richland County
April 15, 2020 | View PDF
Since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, Sidney Health Center has been preparing and implementing procedures to protect healthcare workers, patients, residents and people living in Richland County from the threat of the pandemic coronavirus.
"We have been working closely with local and state officials to get ready for the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in our community," stated Jen Doty, Sidney Health Center CEO. "One of our biggest concerns is overwhelming our healthcare facility with a surge of COVID-19 patients and protecting the health of our workforce."
Since mid-March, Sidney Health Center has tested one to six community members on a daily basis. The decision to test is based on a healthcare provider's evaluation and judgement to determine if the patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19. Tests can only be done with a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant order. Not everyone experiencing symptoms needs to be tested. Sidney Health Center continues to follow CDC guidelines and prioritize testing accordingly.
At the start of the national emergency declaration by the Trump administration, Sidney Health Center had 125 collection kits on-site. These kits are used to test for influenza and COVID-19. Since then, the Montana State Laboratory reduced the sample-size needed to test for COVID-19. As a result, Sidney Health Center's Laboratory split the kits to double their supply of collection kits. The lab has also ordered individual testing supplies to create its own collection test kits. Although the number of kits is limited, Sidney Health Center continues to order supplies for testing purposes and plans to continue testing as the need arises.
Once a sample is collected, the test kit is sent to the Montana State Laboratory. Sidney Health Center is getting the test results within 24 hours from when the sample is received at the state lab, which is averaging about a 36-hour turnaround overall.
Coordination of teamwork is evident during this time of uncertainty as management across the hospital, clinic and long-term care continues to implement creative ways to manage this worldwide pandemic that has introduced itself in Richland County. The organization continues to work closely with state and local officials including the Richland County Health Department to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
The national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) continues to be of great concern for all healthcare facilities. Sidney Health Center monitors its inventory of PPE on a daily basis and works closely with the state to continue getting supplies. Furthermore, Sidney Health Center is accepting donations of N95 masks, fabric masks, 3D masks, and isolation gowns. Questions regarding PPE donations should be directed through Sidney Health Center's Marketing Department at 406.488.2595 or the Foundation for Community Care at 406.488.2273.
"The response from area organizations and individuals who have donated their time, talents and supplies to help stock our PPE with N95 masks, fabric masks and reusable isolation gowns has been incredible," reiterated Doty. "These generous acts of kindness including prayers and support are much appreciated by our frontline staff who put the health and well-being of our patients and residents at the heart of their work."
For those who need to seek medical attention for COVID-19, Sidney Health Center is requesting that you call first. Please call 406-488-3963 to talk to a staff member before presenting at the clinic, hospital or emergency room. Individuals will be instructed what to do depending on their symptoms. This will allow staff time to protect themselves before providing the necessary medical care.
For more information about precautions, measures and updates, visit Sidney Health Center's website at sidneyhealth.org or follow our Facebook page.