CFVH - Covid-19 Update - 8/13/21
Sanders County Residents,
If you have been keeping up with national news you have seen the Delta variant of Covid-19 has become the predominant variant and is leading to a significant spike in cases. Montana too has begun to see the rise in cases, and in Sanders County the same trend is present. Many people are becoming worried about exposures, symptoms, and asymptomatic transmission. Clark Fork Valley Hospital, like the rest of the country, has been focused on improving vaccination rates as we have also tried to solidify staff and patient protection procedures. In an attempt to meet an increasing demand for testing, largely driven by individuals recognizing their personal symptoms or exposure history, we are going to make available self-referred Covid-19 antigen testing. Beginning Monday, August 16, Sanders County community members will be able to obtain an antigen test without seeing a provider or having an order, and at NO COST. We are pleased that we can now do this, and will do so as long as the demand and testing availability remains. We still have a limited supply and allocation for Covid PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing that we must reserve for specific in-hospital use.
If you need testing for travel purposes you will need to determine if this antigen testing is adequate. Requirements may vary depending on where you are traveling to. Unfortunately, due to supply issues, we are unable to offer PCR testing if required for your travel plans.
Currently, to obtain the antigen testing, you will have to come to the hospital where you will park in a designated Covid-19 Testing parking area. You will call the posted phone number and a CFVH staff representative will come to your car. They will provide instructions on how to obtain the sample that is needed for testing so you can then collect this sample yourself. There will also be a short registration form to complete. We will need to see ID to confirm the registration. If you are under 18 years of age a parent will need to sign for consent. After collection of the sample you will leave and we will contact you with the results, within a few hours. You will also be given printed instructions regarding current CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation. Read these guidelines carefully. Following them is as important as the covid test result. Please know that we are required to notify the public health department of any positive test result for contact tracing purposes.
Initially we are planning to make this testing service available Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Please note that if you are ill with respiratory symptoms and wish to be seen by a provider, our Respiratory Illness Clinic in Plains and our Family Medicine Network offices in Thompson Falls and Hot Springs will continue to be available for more in depth consultations.
We believe this approach will allow us to continue to meet our patients’ overall healthcare needs as well as the current demands of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are setting this service up quickly and will likely make adjustments over time, so stay tuned to our Facebook Page and/or website for updated information. As always, we are dedicated to doing our best to serve the needs of our community while also caring for our healthcare workers who have been stretched thin by the Pandemic and an ongoing shortage of healthcare workers. We appreciate your patience with our valued staff members. The pandemic has been, and continues to be a heavy burden added to the day to day work they do.
Data is showing that vaccinated individuals are much less likely to be affected by the current uptick in Covid-19 activity, but large portions of the country’s population remain unvaccinated. Sanders County has a vaccination rate of 34%, the lowest in western Montana. If you have not gotten your vaccine and would like to do so, there are a number of places to obtain vaccines including our hospital, the public health department and our local pharmacies. To be scheduled for your Covid-19 vaccine at CFVH, please visit www.cfvh.org to complete the Covid-19 Vaccination Interest Survey or call Plains Family Medicine directly – 406-826-4810. Finally, I remind you to wear a mask where appropriate, maintain social distancing, wash hands, and avoid large groups.
Gregory S. Hanson, MD
Clark Fork Valley Hospital