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Hospital answers key COVID questions

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | November 13, 2020 1:08 AM

Kootenai Health has updated the Frequently Asked Questions page it created in late July and posted in early August to debunk myths and confusion surrounding COVID-19.

“Back in early August,” Andrea Nagel, communications specialist for the community hospital, told The Press, “Kootenai Health put together a comprehensive list to help address questions, rumors and myths we have heard circulating regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that some time has passed, we revisited some of these topics and addressed some new ones.”

The updated site gained popularity when it was launched over the summer, addressing myths that included whether or not the hospital was paid fees for claiming COVID patients. That question is still on the site, but hospital administrators updated the FAQs to answer more questions about the virus that has claimed more than 1.2 million lives.

“As a regional hospital, it is our job to care for the patients of northern Idaho,” the page reads. “We are doing our best to care for every patient, to advocate for the safety of our community and keep our employees safe from harm.”

The FAQs cover not only the familiar questions about the use of masks and testing, but more topical myths, such as whether or not Kootenai Health issued a community mask mandate (spoiler alert: It didn’t) and whether or not the hospital is furloughing staff (another spoiler: It isn’t). Other questions ask about hospital practices during the pandemic, such as question 19: Why aren’t you stopping all surgeries to accommodate more patients?

“Many people in our community require procedures, treatments and care unrelated to COVID-19,” the site answers. “This includes care needed to treat cancer, heart problems and neurosurgery. Delaying this care can be life-threatening. At this time we are attempting to provide care for both COVID-19 positive patients and non-COVID-19 patients for as long as possible to prevent any possible harm that could result from delaying medical care.”

Nagel said it’s important to update both Frequently Asked Questions and Kootenai Health’s answers, as the hospital — just like the coronavirus — is constantly evolving.

“This pandemic is new to all of us,” Kootenai Health’s statement said, “and we are learning as we go. We are learning more each day from reliable sources including the CDC, WHO, peer-reviewed scientific papers and studies, as well as our own experience in caring for COVID-19 patients at Kootenai Health.”

Viewers can visit www.kh.org/covid-19/ for all the questions and answers.

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