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KVH says it's preparing for surge, continues testing

First county person to test positive was tested in Goldendale


March 11, 2020

As the status of COVID-19 changes day by day and hour by hour, Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) says it's been preparing for the virus for some time.

KVH's Hospital Incident Command Team has been working around the clock with local and state authorities to remain as prepared as possible to manage testing and patients that require inpatient care. “We formally initiated our emergency operations plan on March 2 in anticipation of COVID-19 reaching Goldendale,” stated Annie Stone, ARNP. KVH has tested and continues to test patients who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing per the CDC guidelines. We received our first positive test result on Saturday, March 14. The Klickitat County Public Health Department has declared this person as low risk for community exposure.

As testing supplies are limited, the decision to test is made by the healthcare provider. “We are not alone in this shortage,” stated CEO Leslie Hiebert. “We are exhausting every option to obtain more testing supplies and anticipate receiving assistance through federal and state resources very soon. We are prepared to set up a drive-through testing clinic within the next week, pending the availability of supplies.” Test samples are collected locally and sent to a lab for processing. Results take approximately three to four business days.

Klickitat Valley Health has implemented a COVID-19 Nurse Help Line to assist with the screening of patients that are experiencing symptoms. To help manage the volume of calls and ensure the nursing staff is available for patients who are currently ill, the general public is encouraged to closely monitor our website ( and Facebook page for the latest information. Other reliable sources of information include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Washington Department of Health. Patients that are experiencing a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, new onset of cough, sore throat, muscle aches, uncontrollable runny nose (not related to allergies) or shortness of breath may call the KVH COVID-19 Nurse Help Line at (509) 773-4029 for testing screening. Patients who are having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention and contact the hospital at (509) 773-4022 before arrival, if possible.

“According to the University of Washington, high risk for exposure is defined as being within six feet of an infected person for more than several minutes,” explains Paula Riley, RN, KVH Infection Preventionist. To prevent the spread of the virus and to protect our patients and staff, KVH has increased its safety precautions. These precautions include limiting entry to the facility to the main hospital, family medicine and therapy entrances; closure of dietary services to the public; temporary suspension of our volunteer program; development of telemedicine options; and limited visitation to patients admitted to the Acute Care unit.

KVH is prepared to manage a surplus of patients should that occur. “We have a clear plan in place and the capacity to manage a surge, pending the availability of resources,” states Hiebert.


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