Opinion

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Letter

COVID-19: A Plea from Local Physicians

We will all be in this together

As physicians in the Flathead Valley we have come to know many of you through interactions when you presented to our clinics or emergency department asking for help in treating a medical ailment. We are now reaching out to you to ask for help. We Need Time.

On March 13, 2020, COVID-19 was diagnosed within the state of Montana. This is a novel respiratory virus that our community has not previously seen. It is spread much like a common cold through touching surfaces with recent contamination or getting particles from an infected person while coughing or sneezing. As this virus can spread quite easily, we anticipate a large number of our population will be infected with this virus at some point. While that may sound alarming, the vast majority of us will have minimal to no symptoms. Unfortunately, for our vulnerable population – the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions – this could be incredibly life-threatening or even fatal.

At this time, our biggest threat is overwhelming our health care system with too high of a caseload to be handled in our emergency departments and intensive care units. This will negatively impact the outcome of those presenting in medical distress and it will also negatively affect the ability for us to deliver care for routine medical emergencies.

Our request to you is to decrease your exposures with other individuals in order to decrease the rate of newly acquired infections in our community in order to protect the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, citizens who need other urgent hospital care, and to protect our health care workforce. This is frequently referred to as social distancing and will improve the likelihood of “flattening the curve.” This will slow the acquisition of new cases over time and allow our health care system to deliver the best care to you and your family members.

We understand this will have an incredibly emotional and financial toll on individuals, businesses, and the community. We will all be in this together. Actions that we request you please strongly consider:

• Support Governor Bullock’s decision to close schools. We will need additional community support to ensure children at risk have adequate access to meals and supervision.

• Avoid large gatherings.

• Minimize play dates, birthday parties, and meet-ups at community locations.

• Cancel vacation travel.

• Decrease frequency of exposure at stores and restaurants. Consider support of local establishments with purchase of gift cards to use later.

• Maintain distance while shopping at the grocery store or outside in general (6 foot distance recommended).

• Businesses work with employees to enable non-essential personnel to work from home and cancel business travel.

• If you are sick, STAY HOME. Please call your doctor to discuss your symptoms.

We thank the individuals who have already begun practicing social distancing and to the businesses who have either shut down or modified their business strategy. We have a fairly isolated community here in Northwest Montana and we have the ability to control the outcome of this virus and keep our community whole.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Suzanne Daniell, MD
Melissa Hulvat, MD
John Harvey, MD
Federico Seifarth, MD
Cory Robertson, MD
Samantha Dooley, MD
Kasey Kasavana, MD
Gavin Falk, MD
Robert Nitschelm, MD
Cory Short, DO
Michael Mitchell, MD
Richard Friedman, MD
Allie Maffit, MD
Robert Love, MD
Paul Berkram, MD
Adriane Haragan, MD
William Cobell, MD
Mayank Agrawal, MD
Ray Foley, MD
Austine Siomos, MD
Ned Wilson, MD
Juan Martinez-Poyer, MD
Crystal Zomer, MD
Randall Zuckerman, MD
Marissa Hoyne, MD
Michael Todd Rutherford, MD
Rachel Zeider, MD
John Cole, MD
Dennis Winkel, MD
Timothy Stidham, MD
Brendon Smith, MD
Fernando Castro-Silva, MD
Deb Lessmeier, MD
Alan Rice, MD
John E Davis III, MD
Tyler Hoppes, MD
William Benedetto, MD
Herman Lyle, MD
Adam Schow, MD
Joseph Sramek, MD
Brent Pistorese, MD
Kurt Lindsay, MD
Dan Zlogar, MD
Sydney Lillard, MD
Ford Shippey, III MD
John VanArendonk, MD
Kerry Eby, MD
Thomas deHoop, MD
Leah Carlburg, MD
Constance Mash, MD
Sarabeth Martin, MD
Karen Perser, MD
Laura Mirch, MD
Gina Nelson, MD
Kelly Redfield, MD
Chris Holdhusen, MD
Carrie Laborde, MD
David Habel, MD
Sarah Robinson, MD
Pete Fisher, MD
Anna Robbins, MD
Melanie Zander, NP
Sadie Baldwin, APRN, FNP-BC
Michelle Spring, MD
Courtney Lyle, MD
Todd Bergland, MD
Elizabeth White, MD
Michael Hromadka, MD
Thomas Harrell, MD
Jonathan Amick, DO
Heidi Shors, MD
Andrew Shors, MD
Kathleen Lewison, MD
Mirna Bowden,MD
Brad Kasavana, DO
Randy Beach, MD
Brentley Buchele, MD
John Kalbfleisch, MD
Jeremy Jennings, DO
Jennie Eckstrom, MD
Ryan Gunlikson, MD

Kalispell Regional Healthcare