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Hospital rep discusses COVID-19 with Grand Coulee council

With Coulee Medical Center officially in emergency mode, a representative updated the Grand Coulee City Council last week on what that currently means.

Tyler Donn spoke on behalf of CMC March 17 in regard to the COVID-19, coronavirus epidemic.

Donn explained that with a national emergency declared on March 13, it forced the hospital to put their emergency preparedness plan into action.

The first goal is to protect all patients and others at the hospital, Donn said, and that entails sending home non-essential staff, ensuring staff have protective gear that they need, and screening them for symptoms.

Donn also explained how they screen people before they enter the hospital, either with an employee who sits outside the hospital during normal hours, or by an employee coming outside during closed hours.

Donn said they are working diligently towards being able to hold appointments remotely via Zoom, a video-conferencing service that allows a medical service provider to meet with a patient using a tablet device, rather than in person.

Visitor restrictions were difficult decisions to make, Donn said. Mothers giving birth will be able to have just one support person present as she gives birth. End-of-life patients may have two immediate family members present at a time. Pediatric patients will be allowed to have two people accompany them for an appointment.

Pharmacy pickups are curbside only, according to a March 24 statement from CMC, and the pharmacy can be reached at 509-633-6425.

Councilmember Gary Carriere said that the pharmacy will give customers two refills at once on medications to cut back on trips to the hospital.

Donn said the hospital’s incident command team had been meeting twice a day since March 13 and would be for the foreseeable future.

Asked by Councilmember Alan Cain what the plan is when CMC starts getting patients with COVID-19, Donn said they would try to ship them out to other facilities as soon as possible, but he wasn’t sure what hospital they could send them to, with Spokane hospitals turning patients down.

CMC Chief Executive Officer Ramona Hicks told The Star on Tuesday that they are coordinating with the state where patients would go from CMC.

When CMC tests people for COVID-19, the tests must be sent to North Carolina, with University of Washington no longer taking them due to the large amounts they are processing, something that is frustrating for CMC, Donn said.

Donn said CMC’s former clinic building, now called the Medical Arts building, is being used as a separate walk-in clinic. After checking in, patients are being told to wait in their cars until they can be called in to an available room.

Mayor Paul Townsend said it was important to “be cautious, but do not panic.”

“That’s the worse thing to do,” Townsend said. I see in the news and media, if you think you’re sick, stay home!”

Townsend said that overreacting at the first sign of sickness and going to hospitals is overwhelming the hospitals.

“That panic is the problem,” he said. “It’s a whole new world out there. … All we can ask of our citizens is to be calm, think about what you are doing.”

The group also discussed the possibility of using the former middle school as a place to house patients safely, if need be.

Donn said updates and more information can be found on CMC’s Facebook page or on their website at


Reader Comments(1)

Bob VALEN writes:

The spokesman addressed one town. There are three other towns that should have heard this message too. Just another example why consolidation is important.

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