Cabinet Peaks Medical Center updates COVID-19 plan

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | July 31, 2020 8:53 AM

With cases of the novel coronavirus increasing in Lincoln County, Cabinet Peaks Medical Center has outlined its plans for dealing with a potential surge in patients.

CPMC is prepared to turn their intensive care unit into a COVID-19 respiratory unit which could care for up to 14 patients at a time, according to a July 24 release. The unit could be expanded if needed and the medical center has surge plans for all patient departments including emergency, acute care, respiratory therapy, obstetrics, laboratory and imaging.

The COVID-19 respiratory unit, however, would only be used as a backup. According to the press release, the medical center has an understanding with Kalispell Regional Medical Center that would allow them to transfer patients suffering from COVID-19.

“While we do have the capacity, staff, skills and equipment to care for these patients in our facility, our preference is to get them to a hospital where dedicated staff is caring for COVID patients daily,” said Kate Stephens, public information officer.

Stephens said that only if patients became too ill to transfer or if the medical center were no longer able to send patients to Kalispell would CPMC open their COVID-19 respiratory unit.

The press release listed measures that the medical center has in place to protect their staff and the community, including a mask requirement for employees and visitors, hygiene stations placed throughout the facility, restrictions on visitors and routine screenings for patients.

Stephens reminded the public that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to social distance.

“Stay home when you are sick; wash your hands; and avoid close contact with people who are sick,” Stephens said.

The press release also emphasized that the medical center emergency department is not a treatment place of choice for COVID-19. If patients are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, the medical center recommends staying home and calling the Lincoln County COVID-19 hotline 293-6295.