Monday, March 27, 2023

Open letter: Medical professionals urge path forward for schools

| September 1, 2021 1:00 AM

Dear Trustees Brumley, Morrisroe, Pickford, May and Smith of the Coeur d’Alene School District Board and Trustees Banducci, Barnes, McKenzie, Howard and Wood of the North Idaho College Board:

As health care providers and physicians, we are committed to protecting and improving the health of children and adults across North Idaho. The recent surge of COVID-19 has converged with school and college openings, presenting us with a new and grave challenge. Our hospital is navigating a crisis; the overwhelming number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has resulted in our inability to fully care for our community.

We all know our children and young adults greatly benefit from in-person learning. To this end, we must make certain schools and colleges are safe, and that we do everything within our means to ensure schools and colleges remain open.

The good news is, we can achieve these goals. In the past year we’ve learned so much about this virus — treatment, prevention and how to best manage our institutions and our interactions to avoid rapid spread. This knowledge offers a clear path forward.

The challenge is, we can only keep our learning environments safe and open for our students by working together. K-12 school and college boards, administrators, teachers and parents must unite. We must put our students’ needs first by implementing the simple, science-based, evidence-based, tested methods we know slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is the only way to safely bring our kids and young adults back into the classroom, and keep them in the classroom.

Our children don’t have a voice in school-district policies. Many of our children don’t yet have access to the added protection of a vaccine. As the organizational leaders tasked with providing them safe access to our schools and college, we are asking you to take the following critically important steps:

We need to mask up. Numerous studies demonstrate and the medical consensus supports that universal masking prevents the spread of COVID-19 and that masks are safe for children as young as 2. Universal masking should allow our classrooms to establish and maintain in-person attendance. It is simply the most important thing we can do right now to ensure our schools and colleges are safe and remain open.

Maintain 3 feet of distance between people whenever possible. Whether it’s in classrooms, hallways or buses, a small amount of physical distancing goes a long way in preventing spread of the virus. Where distancing is not possible, mask-wearing is even more important.

Those who can get vaccinated, should. This includes parents, teachers, staff and all children age 12 and older. An abundance of evidence shows the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and the most powerful tool we have in our efforts to end this long pandemic.

Follow simple public health recommendations. Wash your hands, cover your coughs and keep your kids home if they’re sick.

We are appreciative of President Rick MacLennan and Principal Dan Nicklay for having the courage to support simple interventions to keep our children and young adults safe, in school and college, and to help protect the health of our community as a whole.

Our children and young adults need to be in school, and our schools and colleges need to be safe. We know we can effectively meet both these necessities without great disruption.

It may feel like these pandemic restrictions will be around forever, but they won’t. We will get past this. Until we do, our hopes lie with all of you and with our ability to work together on a safe, happy, effective and prolonged return to school and college.


Vanessa Carroll, MD, Pediatrics Medical Director

Brook Lang, MD, Neonatal ICU Medical Director

Bill Britt, MD, Neurology, Neurosciences Medical Director

Robert Scoggins, MD, Chief of Staff, Intensive Care Medical Director

Erik Payne, MD, Anesthesiology, Chief of Staff Elect

Emily Petersen, MD, Nephrology, Credentials Committee Chair

Benjamin Mandel, MD, Surgery Department Chairman

Brenna McCrummen, MD, OB/Gyn, Women/Children Department Chair

Cory Richardson, MD, General Surgery, Trauma Services Medical Director

David L. Chambers, MD, Kootenai Urgent Care Medical Director

Devin Caywood, MD, Radiology Medical Director

Jeannette Zinggeler Berg, MD, Critical Care, Ethics Chair

Julie Meltzer, MD, OB/GYN Hospitalist Medical Director

Kanan Silvas, MD, Telehealth Medical Director

Karen Cabell, DO, Internal Medicine, Chief Physician Executive

Kevin Kavanaugh, MD, Cardiovascular Services Medical Director

Kevin Mulvey, MD, Medical Director Oncology

Magdelena Greene, MD, Hospital Medicine Medical Director

Marcus Torgenson, MD, General Surgery, Surgery Department Chair Elect

Michael Harvey, MD, Pathology Medical Director

Peter Purrington, MD, Heritage Health Chief Clinical Officer

Renee Umbdenstock, MD, Anesthesia Medical Director

Richard McLandress, MD, Family Medicine Residency Director

Todd Hoopman, MD, Critical Care, Pulmonary Nodule Program Medical Director

William Ganz, MD, Neurosurgery Medical Director

Aaron Chalmers, MD, General Surgery

Aaron Notestine, MD, Cardiovascular Disease

Abby Gardner, MD, Internal Medicine

Alexandra Bellem, MD, Post Acute and Long-term Care

Alicia Ogram, MD, Dermatology

Andrea Dinning, DO, Internal Medicine

Anna Chase, MD, Family Medicine Residency Faculty

Audrey Buckland, PA-C, Family Medicine

Austin Voigt, MD, Hospital Medicine

Breanna Spencer, NP, Orthopedic Surgery

Bree Ferguson, PA-C, Critical Care

Brendan Mielke, MD, Nephrology

Brent Combs, DO, Pediatrics

Brian Fuller, CRNA

Brian McNamee, MD, Radiology

Britta Beasley, MD, Family Medicine Residency Faculty

Cameron Jones, MD, Family Medicine Resident

Carissa Richardson, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Carlee Kalbfleisch, MD Family Medicine Resident

Casey Cotant, MD, Nephrology

Charlotte Harris, APRN, Psychiatry

Cheri Savage, MD, Pediatrics

Colin Beacom, PA-C, Urology

Connor Quinn, MD, Orthopedics

Constance Keibler, ARNP, Cardiology

Cory Alexander, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Crystal Pyrak, MD, Family Medicine Residency Faculty

Daniko Martincic, MD, Oncology

David Fremouw, PA-C, Vascular Surgery

David Glenn, MD, Family Medicine

David York, MD, Critical Care

Dean Hill, MD, Cardiology

Donald Engles, MD, Interventional Cardiology

Dustin Smyth, DO, Neurology

Ed Jones, MD, Emergency Medicine

Elizabeth Hankinson, MD, Critical Care

Eric Heidenreich, MD, Psychiatry

Eric Wallace, DO, Interventional Cardiology

Erica Kellenbeck, MD, Emergency Medicine

Erin Wenzel, MD, Emergency Medicine

Fred Jowdy, CRNA

Gavin Young, MD, Gastroenterology

Geoff Emry, MD, Family Medicine

Geoffrey McKinzie, MD, Emergency Medicine

Heidi Jackson, MD, General Surgery

Henry Amon, MD, Emergency Medicine

Hinah Parker, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist

James Bailey, MD, Family Medicine

James Kirby, MD, Psychiatry

James McMahon, PA-C, Gastroenterology

James West, MD, Family Medicine

Jamie Danish, FNP, Cardiothoracic Surgery

Jeffrey Allen, MD, Oncology

Jeffrey Mitchell, PA-C, Surgery

Jeffrey Wilson, DO, Hospital Medicine

Jeremiah Wright, ARNP, Hospital Medicine

John Siemers, MD, Hospital Medicine

Jonathan Jerkins, MD, Pediatrics

Jonathan King, MD, Orthopedics

Jonathan Linthicum, MD, Orthopedics

Jonathan Shupe, MD Family Medicine

Josh Leppert, CRNA, Anesthesia

Justin Overhoff, PA-C, Urology

Kami Bowcut, PA-C, General Surgery

Kate Reidy, FNP, Infectious Diseases

Keith McKlendin, MD, Radiology

Kyle Severinsen, MD, Internal Medicine

Laura Adams, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatry

Leah Weatherly, MD, Family Medicine

Leanne Elisha, DNP, Psychiatry

Magen Schmidt, PA-C, Neurosurgery

Marc Granrud, MD, Hospital Medicine

Maria Rodebaugh, MD, Endocrinology

Mark Mroczko, MD, Hospital Medicine

Matthew Lidstrom, MD, Radiology

Matthew Parker, MD, Pediatrics

Michael May, MD, General Surgery

Michael Meza, MD, Post Acute and Long-term Care

Michael Oswald, CRNA, Anesthesia

Michael Szymanski, ARNP, Family Medicine

Mitchell Elting, MD, Family Medicine

Natalie Cooper, MD, Wound Care

Nathan Meltzer, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Nicole Pelly, MD, Outpatient Palliative Care

Patrick Mullen, MD, Hand Surgery

Paul White, MD, Oncology

Philip Dooley, MD, Internal Medicine

Rebecca Siemers, MD, Family Medicine Residency Faculty

Robert McFarland, MD, Family Medicine Residency

Ronald Fritz, DO, Cardiovascular Disease

Ronald Jenkins, MD, Interventional Cardiology

Russell Blakeley, MD, Cardiology

Ryan Gilles, MD, Family Medicine Residency Faculty

Sarah Hartzell, PA-C, Family Medicine

Sarah Parker, MD, Emergency Medicine

Sarah Pierce, CRNA, Anesthesia

Scott Bieber, DO, Nephrology

Scott Bode, MD, Anesthesiology

Scott Magnuson, MD, Pain Management

Sean Urquhart, MD, OB/GYN Hospital Medicine

Shana Fogarty, MD, Hospital Medicine

Shelby Apodaca, MD, OB/GYN Hospital Medicine

Spencer Cross, MD, Emergency Medicine

Summer Holcomb, CRNA, Anesthesia

Susan Melchiore, MD, Internal Medicine

Tad Buckland, MD, Ophthalmology

Tanya Heidenreich, ARNP, Psychiatry

Taylor Reichel, MD, Radiology

Terese Fandel, MD, Pathology

Timothy Burns, MD, Family Medicine

Tori Lennox, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgery

Travis Headley, PA-C, Orthopedics

Valerie Rounds, APRN, Internal Medicine

Walt Fairfax, MD, Sleep Medicine

William Miller, MD, Psychiatry, Family Medicine Residency Faculty

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