City council briefed on coronavirus at meeting

by Teresa Byrd
Staff Writer | March 25, 2020 6:14 AM

Flathead City-County Health Department Deputy Health Officer Kerry Nuckles last week briefed Columbia Falls City Council on the latest county policies concerning the coronavirus.

The department has been experiencing a high call volume of very concerned and confused citizens, said Nuckles. Disseminating as much public information as possible has been a priority for the organization.

The department has been meeting daily with Kalispell Regional Healthcare and North Valley Hospital officials as well as reaching out to churches and all voluntary care facilities to coordinate care provisions across as many agencies as possible.

All of the services the department provides, including the Flathead Family Planning Clinic, are still functioning, noted Nuckles. However, many of the services are transitioning as much as possible to tele-health communication as well as non-contact drop-offs. Any new or scheduled Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) appointments for example, or any Environmental Health Department concerns will be handled over the phone.

The immunization clinic is the only clinic closed at this time. The department has pulled public health nurses from the clinic to serve the community in coronavirus preparation. If people need immunizations, staff will find a way to get it done, said Nuckles. One major exception to this closure are flu vaccinations, which the Department is urging everyone to get. Part of the strain on healthcare systems from the coronavirus comes from it falling within the normal flu season, which has left people with added health complications and increased vulnerability, Nuckles noted.

All public information put forth by the Department concerning the virus can be viewed on the newly launched website https://flatheadhealth.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/. The site includes federal recommendations for event organizers and businesses, information on symptoms, testing and treatment of the virus, as well as a Facebook link to an almost hour long informational video by Kalispell Regional Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Nelson.

The site also contains the latest county recommendations regarding preparatory business practices for potential mandatory control measures in the future.

“There may be no warning for the implementation of control measures and so it is vital that every business begin planning and implementing alternate ways of doing business immediately,” said Flathead City-County Board of Health Chair Tamalee St. James Robinson in a release.

Any new information is also being added to the Flathead City-County Health Department Facebook page.

In additional news, Larry Wilson was unanimously approved for reappointment to the police commission board.