Life Goes On – COVID-19 Retrospective

Life Goes On

Pandemic Lessons Learned from Our Community Hospital

By: Lauren Kuczka, Marketing Director
Boundary Community Hospital

March 11, 2021

On March 16, 2020, the Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) Auxiliary held their annual pie sale. This almost 50 year tradition is usually a busy event with many in the community stopping to pick up some pies and sit and have coffee with their neighbors and friends. 2020 was a little different. When usually they sell out of the 100 pies and desserts by noon, this time people stayed home due to the fear of the coronavirus. In fact, just a week later the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued an “Order to Self-Isolate for the State of Idaho” for all citizens of Idaho. This was the beginning of the pandemic for many.

We started talking about COVID-19 in some of our meetings, especially our Medical Staff meetings, as early as January 2020, but it wasn’t until mid-March that we recognized how significant this was to our country and community,” says Preston Becker, Hospital CEO. “At that time we went into Emergency Operations and created our COVID-19 Task Force that serves as our Incident Command and determines how Boundary Community Hospital will respond operationally to the pandemic.” The BCH COVID-19 Task Force, made up of key leaders at the Hospital as well as local physicians, continues to meet at least twice a week to review processes, regulatory changes, supply issues and changes needed to keep staff, patients and residents safe.

One of the first changes made by the Task Force was to set up drive up lab testing for routine tests. The phlebotomists had already been doing curbside draws so this process was welcomed by patients who preferred not to come into the Hospital itself. Drive up lab testing for non-COVID testing remains popular and will continue. Once COVID-19 positives in Boundary County started rising, the lab instituted special COVID-19 testing while patients wait in their car to reduce risk of exposure for staff as well as patients.

In March 2020, BCH Medical Director, Dr. Greg Botkin wrote: “Members of our community who show current or recent infection, are the earliest pioneers of an emerging society. Some will be actively fighting this thing, crushing and shredding viral particles day by day, killing this disease, perhaps preventing it from coming to your door. Think about that. These souls will be quarantined, largely unaided by medical science, isolated from the community’s companionship, supported entirely by devoted (and co-infected) friends and family. Some positives will have finished that battle, perhaps effortlessly, perhaps through indescribable pain and struggle, a few having come within heartbeats of death. And some positives we may lose. These will be our most fragile neighbors, lost in that fight, lost in the same way we lose neighbors every year to influenza and norovirus and cold viruses and heart disease.” Dr. Botkin continued “As we do more testing in Boundary County the number of positives will probably rise. This does not signal the end of our world. It does signal the need for unusual courage, careful analysis, and extraordinary compassion. Medical science cannot stop this storm. But it can assist a good community that is determined to gracefully and courteously push through to the other side. And after twenty three years of practicing medicine here I believe this is who we are.

According to Materials Manager Josh Smith, “As demands for supplies escalated and supply dwindled, we had an interesting challenge. We ended up building relationships with many new or previously underutilized vendors that have been a great help during periods where our usual supply chain was strained near to breaking and many products, including PPE, were very hard to come by, or prohibitively expensive for our small facility. Even still, nearing a year into the Pandemic, many of the goods that were always on our shelves are still hard to come by at near reasonable pricing. We have had to push adaptability pretty hard in our facility. Luckily staff has had few qualms with the sometimes odd product choices (specifically, ordering a case of rainbow colored rain ponchos for our laboratory personnel when proper impervious gowns were completely unavailable comes to mind) we have had to make, only cautioning us when we dared venture into the… flamboyant. I will say however, that they still wore the ponchos!

Chinna McKechnie, RN, Infection Prevention Director relates “When we introduced Universal Masking, I counted on having staff object but was pleasantly surprised to get very little opposition. Everyone took it in stride and I’m proud of how safe it is to work at the hospital. Since October about 20% of our staff have gotten infected and the majority of the cases were a known exposure outside of the hospital. We have had one swing patient and one ECF staff infected in all of 2020. Considering the 25% Positivity rate in December for our community that is really good.

Rehabilitation Services continued throughout the pandemic – constantly flexing to meet new requirements and addressing individual patient needs. Other departments were more affected. Surgery Manager, April Bennett, MSN RN says that the reality of COVID-19 was apparent “starting March 19th, when it was decided that all elective surgeries would be suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Pre-operative COVID testing on all surgery patients to ensure that we are decreasing the spread of the virus is now required.” April particularly notes that “the multiple hours that Grant Heald and the lab team have worked to perform tests for the community has helped bring awareness to the virus. Personally, the loss of Rocky B, a longtime community member to this virus has really hit home.

Linda Manley, RN, Acute Care Manager relates that her staff are feeling the loss of the “personal touch.” Human interaction, the touch of a hand, being close, are an essential part of healing. The nursing team in the Hospital do everything they can to help their patients, screening and allowing essential visitors for the health of the patient in their care.

Boundary Community Hospital is unique in the state of Idaho because they have an extended care facility/nursing home contiguous to the acute care facility/hospital. Federally-mandated regulations on nursing homes restricts access and adds special conditions to the entire facility including acute care. COVID-19 positive patients are often treated in the Emergency Room. Acute patients who test positive for the virus and require hospitalization are generally transferred to other hospitals in the region. Many patients are sent home to recover under the supervision of their primary care provider. “One of our top priorities has been, and continues to be, protecting our nursing home residents,” says CEO Becker. “This is their home and we do our best to respect that. Limiting visitation has been one of the most difficult things we’ve had to implement. Our teams have worked hard to continue to allow for visitation in a safe manner when circumstances allow for it. In regards to care, our staff have not changed their compassionate approach to caring for our residents. We continue to be recognized as a 5-star facility providing 5-star care to our residents and their families.

It wasn’t until July 9 that the Boundary Community Hospital Laboratory had their first positive COVID-19 test of a resident who currently lived in Boundary County. According to Laboratory Medical Director, Dr. Greg Botkin, “The Hospital’s Clinical Medical Laboratory has put together a set of instruments and reagents that are as accurate and fast as any testing platform in the country. The results merit a high degree of confidence. When we inform patients about the presence or absence of active disease we believe we are providing the most accurate report that medical science can now provide.” From April 2020 through March 10, 2021, the lab has taken 7,781 samples and reported 600 positives for Boundary County residents and 245 positives for out of county residents.

The Hospital received funds from several programs, both State and federal including the CARES Act. The money received from the PPP Loan program was intended to allow the Hospital to maintain normal operations and help avoid layoffs or workforce reductions. “These funds were needed so that we could not only continue to provide quality care to our community, but also to provide jobs to people within our community,” said Mr. Becker. “Additionally, we purchased many items that created a safer environment within the organization including protective barriers in public registration areas, medical supplies that allowed for a safer delivery of care and reduced exposure to infectious disease such as COVID-19, cleaning and sanitation supplies, etc.

Some of the purchases, you may see when you come to the Hospital include:

    • Upgraded lighting in the Ambulance Bay
    • Communication equipment for Emergency and Lab personnel
    • Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) for all patient care departments at a cost of $1,100 for each unit. PAPRs provide enhanced protection for the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare team members working with COVID-19 positive patients.
    • New Lab equipment that can be used for not only SARS Cov-2 virus detection but other respiratory illnesses as well.
    • Remodeled and improvement to an outbuilding to facilitate drive up testing.
    • Computers and hardware upgrades for telehealth options as appropriate.
    • Overtime for staff members covering other shifts and providing employees with opportunities to learn new skills so they could help in other departments.

The Hospital Executive Team and Board of Trustees have been careful to be sure they are learning from their experiences so that they can make the best decisions going forward and truly understand what the Hospital needs are and where to put their dollars.

The Board of Trustees voted to move forward in February 2021 with some key equipment purchases using COVID-relief funds, including:

1) New Security Monitoring System covering the entire hospital campus – inside and outside.
2) Negative Air Pressure System for the remodeled Lab
3) Replacing carpet in the Rural Health Clinic with new, more sanitary flooring
4) Badge controllers at the Clinic exterior doors and interior doors between the waiting room and the exam areas.
5) Washing and Disinfecting Equipment for Central Sterile Supply to increase capacity and streamline sterilization of equipment
6) Large Power Tools, Saw, and PPE Hoods for Surgery (current equipment is borrowed from the Surgery Center)
7) Portable X-Ray Equipment for Emergency/Acute Care

In 2021, Dr. Botkin relates “I would add one thing to what I wrote last year. The comment ‘unaided by medical science’ became less true as the weeks rolled by. Clinical trials and grassroots trial-and-error efforts gave us reasons to try specific therapeutic interventions for Boundary County residents who were the most ill. I think it fair to conclude that some of these efforts had real and beneficial effect.

We are thankful for the personnel and infrastructure in our medical community, for the heroes we work with, nurses and lab technicians and physicians, support teams, rural health clinic and outpatient services staff, all those with families at home, putting on their gear and going out to do the exam, collect the samples and ascertain the extent of a patient’s illness, every time, every case.

Life goes on as the pandemic continues. Vaccines are being administered and cases continue to fluctuate. And the Hospital Auxiliary is planning to continue their community tradition by holding the annual Pie Sale to benefit the Hospital on March 12, 2021 at the VFW Hall.

The spirit of community continues to withstand the storm and the Hospital team continues to take care of our community every day.

FAQ about COVID-19 and BCH

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and Boundary Community Hospital

December 16, 2020

Does Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) care for COVID patients?
Boundary Community Hospital is unique in the state of Idaho because they have an extended care facility/nursing home contiguous to the acute care facility/hospital. Federally-mandated regulations on nursing homes restricts access and adds special conditions to the entire facility including acute care. In addition, BCH does not have an intensive care unit (ICU) – all patients requiring ICU care must be transported to another area hospital. Therefore, in cooperation with other hospitals in the region, BCH does not typically admit COVID-19 patients. BCH does admit non-COVID patients on a case by case basis. The Acute Care Unit is licensed as a 20 bed hospital, however, staffing and other issues may limit the number of beds available for patient care.

COVID-19 positive patients are often treated in the Emergency Room. Acute patients requiring ICU or hospitalization are generally transferred to other hospitals in the region. Many patients are sent home to recover under the supervision of their primary care provider.

Masks
BCH encourages everyone to wear a mask while out in public and when you cannot maintain a 6 foot distance. Masks are required for patients using the Rural Health Clinic and Outpatient Services such as Physical Therapy and Radiology. Some curbside services are available such as lab blood draws, Anticoagulation Coumadin® Clinic, and COVID-19 testing. Visitor restrictions are in place throughout the facility and essential visitors for Emergency and Acute Care patients will be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while in the facility.
Wearing a mask is just one way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Just as important is frequent hand washing, as well as social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

How does testing work at BCH?
When a lab order is received, a patient registration clerk will contact the patient directly to register the patient and schedule the test. Every effort is made to schedule patients for testing on the same day as the lab order is received. Scheduled patients use the drive through COVID-19 lab testing site located across from the hospital’s helipad next to the Fry Healthcare Education Center.

The Clinical Medical Laboratory at BCH runs the majority of testing in-house. The testing methodology is determined by the ordering provider and requested specifically on the lab order. All positive tests are reported to Panhandle Health District. As of December 16, 2020, BCH has taken 5,016 samples, of those 4,883 have been tested in-house with 536 found to be COVID-19 positive.

The main types of testing include:

  • Biofire Respiratory Panels (PCR) – testing for fifteen viruses (including SARS Cov-2) and four bacteria. This test not only tests for COVID-19 but also for other viruses like rhinovirus and influenza. With this test, providers can find out if you have COVID-19 or influenza and what type of flu.
  • Sofia Antigen Testing – rapid testing with high accuracy, this test provides results in hours instead of days. Positive antigen tests will show up as “probable” on Panhandle Health District’s website rather than confirmed, based on Idaho Department of Health and Welfare testing criteria.
  • CDC PCR Testing – In some cases, as requested by a provider, a sample will be sent to the Idaho State Lab for official PCR testing.
  • Antibody Testing – After you’ve had COVID-19, your provider may request that you have an antibody blood test to check your level of SARS Cov-2 antibodies.

BCH only tracks the testing they perform in-house. Test results are reported by the patient’s official county of residence, not where the test is taken. The numbers for Boundary County as reported by Panhandle Health District are tabulated by Panhandle Health District from multiple sources.

How do you know if patients have COVID-19 or the flu?
If a primary care provider suspects that a symptomatic patient may have COVID-19, the flu, or another respiratory virus, they will likely request a Biofire Respiratory Panel test from the BCH Lab. This reliable test checks for fifteen viruses including COVID-19. Results are available within hours so that the appropriate treatment can be prescribed.

How is the pandemic affecting the rest of the hospital? Are you stopping surgeries to accommodate more patients?
Some people are avoiding coming to the Hospital or cancelling scheduled appointments. Patients and visitors are thoroughly screened at the door prior to their appointments. Surgeries, rural health clinic, specialist clinics and outpatient visits continue as scheduled with the new safety guidelines.

The BCH Housekeeping team is doing an outstanding job maintaining a clean environment for patients and staff. BCH Infection Prevention Director, Chinna McKechnie, RN performs frequent inspections and rigorous protocols to ensure the safety of everyone who enters our facility. Patients can be assured that the protocols in place will protect them so they should feel comfortable keeping their appointments.

When will Boundary County be receiving COVID-19 vaccines and how will it be distributed?
The Pfizer vaccine has indeed made its way to Idaho. Nurses and doctors in Boise and Idaho Falls started getting vaccinated on Monday, December 14. North Idaho should see the arrival of its first allocation by Friday. More is on the way with the possibility of a second vaccine approved before the end of the year. The State of Idaho will be working directly with specific pharmacies to get the vaccine to nursing home residents and staff. BCH will continue to work with Panhandle Health District and local providers for the distribution of the vaccine to Boundary County residents.

###

Coming Together as a Community

Coming Together as a Community
By: Preston Becker

The year 2020 has been one we will never forget. As I reflect on the past year, I am filled with many emotions but one I would like to emphasize is that of gratitude. My family and I relocated to Bonners Ferry in the fall of 2019 as I was hired as CEO of Boundary Community Hospital. A native of North Idaho, I was excited to return to the quality of life I knew growing up. One which would afford me the opportunity to play as hard as I would work and have the opportunity to spend quality time with my wife and children in a small and safe community. What we didn’t anticipate was a worldwide pandemic. As the pandemic became a reality, we saw our new sense of normal completely transform. Like many others, we were filled with a lot of questions, concerns, fear, and confusion.

I quickly was forced to act and prepare our local hospital for the uncertainty that was ahead. In mid-March, we developed an advisory task force to guide our organization through handling COVID-19 locally. This team, which is still active today, has met routinely to ensure the safety of our staff, physicians, patients, and visitors. We have created an environment where key stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns in a transparent and safe setting. I immediately recognized that we have something very special here, we truly have the most caring and compassionate group of caregivers and healthcare leaders that I have ever had the privilege of working with in my 20 years in hospital administration. I believe we have not only created a very safe environment for those needing care, but we have put the safety of our nursing home residents at the peak of our priorities as this is their home and they are our most vulnerable population to any infectious disease, especially one we know so little about. While we don’t live in a perfect environment and mistakes do happen, I believe we have developed a culture where individuals take ownership and accountability for their actions and are continually striving to learn and do what’s best for those entering our facility, whether it’s through our primary care clinic, our nursing home, or one of our many hospital services including the emergency department, outpatient services such as lab, medical imaging, and rehab among so many others. We may be a small community and a small hospital; however, we have the best people and some of the best technology available. As an example and due to quick thinking; we were proactive in acquiring lab testing equipment that would allow us to provide COVID-19 testing locally, and we have been able to keep the community well cared for and informed during this pandemic.

Now that we’re nearing the end of the year, I can look back and find so many things to be grateful for. Understanding that COVID-19 has impacted every community around the globe, there is no other community I would rather be in. I am proud of Bonners Ferry and the people that make up our great community. I truly believe that what we have here is special and while I’m sure I don’t need to convince many people of that, I have chosen to see all of the good things about our community during such a trying time. I appreciate the support the community has shown our healthcare community and entrusting your care to our local healthcare professionals. I have seen our community come together, neighbors caring for neighbors, and for that I am a proud and grateful citizen of this wonderful community!

Preston Becker is Chief Executive Officer at Boundary Community Hospital

Proudly Serving

Proudly Serving
Providing veterans in our community the care they need

By: Jeannie Harkness, Clinic Manager
Boundary Community Clinic

Boundary County has a community that sets the example when it comes to service and honor. With more than 1,500 veterans located in Boundary County, we are fortunate to have retired, reserve, and active duty service men and women living here. As a rural community, it has been frustrating for many veterans to find local healthcare services as part of their VA benefits. Stories abound of veterans driving round trip to the VA Center in Spokane for a ten minute appointment.

Luckily, the Veterans Administration (VA) has been striving to change the situation and make healthcare more accessible for those that have served our country and live in our community. In August 2019, VA awarded TriWest Healthcare Alliance a contract to administer the new Community Care Network (CCN) in Region 4 which includes Idaho. TriWest is responsible for building and maintaining a network of community health care providers, paying claims, and providing customer service under the CCN contract.

Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) has always been committed to caring for the Veterans in our community. In order to facilitate care for these patients, BCH has instituted several processes to expedite services, improve communication, and provide the necessary information so that services can be billed appropriately and accurately.

As the primary local health resource, BCH strives to add service-lines if a need is recognized and works with local healthcare providers to streamline processes to make it easier for veterans and their families to access the care they need.

As the Clinic Manager, I’m thankful Boundary Community Clinics, a division of BCH, has been added as a new Urgent Care site for veterans within the last year. We are currently the only VA Authorized Urgent Care facility in Boundary County. The clinic is always accepting new patients and their families with VA Insurance Plans such as Veteran Patient-Centered Care Clinic (VAPCCC), Tri-West Healthcare Alliance, and Tri-Care insurances. Additionally, the clinic is in the process of potentially expanding services to include Annual Disability Exams to better serve those veterans with disabilities in our county.

Due to the constant program changes that veterans and healthcare organizations faced, local veterans have struggled to access outpatient services available in Bonners Ferry such as lab tests and x-rays. When the 2019 Mission Act replaced the VA Choice Program, specific processes were put in place for veterans to receive care from local providers. It also gave healthcare organizations the understanding of what needs to be completed in order to care for a veteran at their facility. One component that has not changed is that all veterans require authorization for services prior to being seen in an outpatient setting, unless it is an emergency room visit.

As a hospital and primary care clinic trying to serve the veterans of our community, we can direct veterans through the process to ensure authorization has been obtained for services needed, creating a smooth transition from one area to another. We coordinate with the VA to ensure that billing is handled properly so that our veterans are cared for appropriately. We are honored to have veterans in our community, and to be able to provide veterans with the care they need.

This Veteran’s Day, and every day, we are proud to serve those who have served our country.

Make Yourself a Priority

Early Detection May Save Your Life

October 2020 – Although 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer, the good news is the survival rate is very good with early detection. Better imaging technology, including digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography exams), allow Radiologists to see even the smallest amount of cancer much earlier than before.

Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) has invested in the Selenia® Dimensions® 3D Mammography system from Hologic, as well as obtaining the American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Center of Excellence certification for screening and diagnostic mammography and diagnostic breast ultrasound. BCH Mammography Director Luke Grauke, MD has implemented the necessary protocols so that radiologists from Kootenai Outpatient Imaging can read the results of the scans remotely transmitting their findings to local primary care providers for fast results. Additionally, Bryan Berkey, MD has replaced long-time BCH Radiology Director, Michael Melendez, MD overseeing the Diagnostic Imaging Department.

According to Susan Layeux, MD, Boundary Community Clinics Medical Director, “Breast cancer screening is recommended for all women from ages 50-75 using a 3-D Mammogram. The various societies have disagreement with how often to screen between the ages of 40-50, and the interval of screening (every 1 or 2 years). Much depends on family history.

It is estimated that over 3,000 women fall into this recommended screening age range, yet Boundary County still lags behind the rest of the state in the number of annual breast cancer screenings.

As a Radiologic Technologist who specializes in Mammography, Amber Allen, RT(R)(M) often hears from women coming in for their first mammograms that they are terrified of the machine. “There are so many jokes about the process of getting a mammogram and none of them paint a flattering or realistic picture,” says Ms. Allen. “However, a lot of women take these jokes to be fact and put off having their mammogram out of fear of the compression. In reality, the exam is typically far quicker and causes far less discomfort than women expect. When they leave they always tell me that it wasn’t so bad.

Ms. Allen continues, “My job is to work with each and every individual to get the best quality image possible, but also to create as comfortable of an atmosphere as it can be, while listening to each patient to help alleviate their fears. Those factors combined with the fact that Boundary Community Hospital has the latest 3D Mammography machine help to give individualized, quality care right in our own community.

In some situations, the radiologist may request additional x-rays or a diagnostic breast ultrasound. 3D mammography exams are still the gold standard for imaging of the breast; however, breast ultrasound can usually focus on a targeted area seen on the Mammogram. BCH follows ACR standards when performing breast ultrasound and the Sonographer is breast-certified with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Patients can schedule follow up testing at BCH for diagnostic mammography and ultrasound rather than going out of county for testing.

Although the cost of new 3D mammogram equipment was expensive, we knew it was an absolute immediate necessity. The BCH Board of Trustees decided to purchase new equipment and find methods to pay after the purchase,” says BCH Trustee Dennis Dinning. “With the support of the Fry Healthcare Foundation and the community we have been able to get a good down payment on the equipment. We know we made a great decision and thank the community for the continued support.

Mammogram appointments are available Monday, Tuesday, and Friday while ultrasound appointments are available on Tuesday and Friday through Outpatient Services at Boundary Community Hospital.

So make yourself a priority and schedule your mammogram. Early detection may save your life.

Accidents Will Happen

Accidents Will Happen
By: Regina Gallette, RN
Emergency Department Manager
Boundary Community Hospital

September 2020 – Whether it is the terrible sound of a vehicle crash, the bloody injury of a chain saw accident, or the ominous sound of someone falling down the stairs, serious injuries cause fear and anxiety on many fronts. The Emergency Medical Team in Boundary County, which includes Boundary Community Hospital (bch), Boundary Ambulance and Life Flight Network, work together to move patients quickly to where they can receive the treatment they need, improve communications among those caring for patients in a traumatic situation, and ultimately decrease patient deaths and improve patient recovery. This unified coordination of care has resulted in the team’s renewal of their designation as an Idaho Time Sensitive Emergency (TSE) Level IV Trauma Center in 2020.

Worldwide there are 11 deaths every minute due to trauma – that’s 5.8 million fatalities a year, and over 1 million are the result of motor vehicle crashes. Wearing seatbelts, using helmets, not driving while under the influence of intoxicants, and not driving while distracted (texting, phone calls, etc.) are major preventive efforts that have already shown to have a dramatic positive impact. Trauma is the fourth leading cause of death in Idaho and the third leading cause in Boundary County.

In 2019, 70 TSE Trauma cases were handled through the BCH Emergency Department. Five seriously injured patients were treated and transported directly from BCH and four TSE Trauma patients were flown directly from the scene by a Life Flight Network medical transport helicopter. All of these cases have one thing in common: a team of dedicated individuals from various agencies working together to get their patients to the highest level of care as quickly as possible.

Hand in hand with the Idaho TSE designation system, BCH’s Process Improvement and Patient Safety (PIPS) Committee works to continuously improve patient outcomes. First, by carefully reviewing all TSE situations in the facility. Then by identifying areas that can be improved, whether it is an issue of equipment or a process that can be structured better, with the goal to ultimately improve the outcomes of each patient and improve the care provided to our community.

What can you do to help when an accident happens?
For the lay person encountering an injury case, remember the A-B-Cs: Airway, Breathing and Circulation. Ensure the airway is open, but don’t move the neck around as there could be a major neck fracture. Assist with breathing, if necessary. Control ongoing bleeding with direct pressure.

According to BCH Emergency Physician and Boundary Ambulance Service Medical Director, Stu Willis, MD, “As a rural community hospital, we have an obligation to provide services that improve survivability. However, we need the community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of time-sensitive emergencies so they can get help as fast as possible, whether it’s the paramedics with advanced life support training, the hospital emergency department staff, or Life Flight Network transporting a patient to a higher level of care facility such as a major trauma center.”

Boundary Community Hospital is proud to be an Idaho Time Sensitive Emergency Level IV Trauma Center since 2017. Our team will continue to strive to provide excellent care for our community. Together, we can save lives.

###

Sara Hull, NP-C Joins Boundary Community Clinics

Sara Hull, NP-C Joins Boundary Community Clinics

August 6, 2020
Bonners Ferry, ID – Boundary Community Clinics is happy to announce the addition of a new family practice provider, Sara Hull, NP-C.

Sara Hull is a board-certified Family Practice Nurse Practitioner and received a Master of Science in Nursing from Gonzaga University. She completed her undergraduate work at North Idaho College and Boise State University receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2015. She spent her registered nursing career working at Kootenai Health gaining experience in a variety of areas as a Float Pool Nurse and Care Manager for Critical Care.

Sara grew up in Bonners Ferry and moved back home in 2019 with her husband and two children. Currently, they’re enjoying the many outdoor opportunities offered in Boundary County and the slower pace of life after living in Kootenai County while completing her education.

Sara will be working with Susan Layeux, MD and Mike Yourzek, PA-C using a team care approach, and she is excited to serve her community, offering care to patients of all ages. To make an appointment to see Sara or any of the providers at Boundary Community Clinics, please call (208) 267-3655. Patient appointments are available Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm.

Summer 2020 CNA Graduation

Hospital Celebrates CNA Graduation

July 30, 2020 Bonners Ferry, ID

Boundary Community Hospital (BCH) and North Idaho College announced the graduation of the Summer semester Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class in Bonners Ferry.  Congratulations to the new Certified Nursing Assistants: Gracie Adams, Aidan Webster and Malin Worley, who will all be working at the BCH Extended Care Facility, and Nina Byler, who will be working at Sunset Home.

Standing (l-r): Gracie Adams, Aidan Webster, Nina Byler, and Malin Worley with Instructor Kris Patterson, RN in front.

Whether at the local hospital, or at home with in-home services, the person more than likely helping take care of your personal needs is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  A CNA is someone who has completed a certification course that includes classroom, lab, and clinical experience to ensure they are able to provide personal care in compliance with the state’s regulations.  Over the past eight weeks, our newest graduates have learned the ins and outs of what it means to be a CNA in Bonners Ferry.

With time spent training with nurses at Boundary Community Hospital, the students come away with an appreciation of the dedication and skills needed in the real world. Boundary Community Hospital and North Idaho College are very proud and excited for these CNAs to take on their roles throughout the community. Gracie Adams praised their instructor, saying “We couldn’t have done it without Kris!”

Next semester at Boundary Community Hospital in Bonners Ferry begins August 18 through October 15, 2020.  Space in the class is still available, so contact Kris Patterson, RN at Kristine.p@bcch.org or call (208) 267-3141, Ext. 4312 for more information.

Nursing in Boundary County

COVID-19 Update to the Community July 29, 2020

Hospital COVID-19 Update to the Community

July 29, 2020

Bonners Ferry, ID – Now that COVID-19 is present in our community, the Boundary Community Hospital COVID-19 Task Force made up of department leaders and medical staff has been meeting frequently to implement internal protocols so that we can meet the increasing challenges to keep our patients, nursing home residents, employees and community safe.

The BCH Clinical Medical Laboratory has some of the best COVID-19 laboratory testing in the area.  With improved testing capability comes responsibility to ensure prompt results to the providers ordering the tests.  Everyone is anxious to get the tests done if they have been exposed or think they have been exposed but keep in mind:

  • All tests require a Physician/Provider order faxed to the lab. Your provider may want to wait through a period of time after exposure to ensure an accurate test.  CDC recommends 5-7 days after exposure before testing.  It will depend on a number of factors which will be discussed with your physician/provider before the test is ordered.
  • Once the Lab order has been sent from the physician/provider, the patient should call the BCH COVID-19 Pre-Registration Line 208-661-5668 to pre-register for the test.  The pre-registration line is open from 8 am to 11 am Monday through Friday. The patient will be placed on a call back list for the next available pre-registration clerk to register the patient.  Please have insurance information ready. COVID-19 testing is not available without pre-registration. Patients MUST be pre-registered before coming to the Hospital for testing.
  • Once the patient is pre-registered, information about testing check in and process will be provided. COVID-19 testing of pre-registered patients is offered 10 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday.
  • Due to high testing volumes, be prepared to wait your turn. Testing is performed curbside with the patient remaining in the vehicle.

Emergency Check In – For the safety of everyone, including patients and staff, the Emergency Department has instituted curbside triage before accessing Emergency Services.  Patients driving in should park in the designated Emergency Check-in Parking spot under the Ambulance Bay and call the Registrar phone number listed on the sign.  Once checked in and screened, a nurse will come out to assess/triage and give further instructions.  If you are in an emergency situation, please call 911. As always, the Emergency Department is ready 24/7 to serve you and care for our community.

Outpatient (Non-COVID) Lab Testing – Non-COVID-19 lab testing is available Monday through Friday 7 am to 5 pm. Drive Up Lab Testing is available Monday through Friday 8 am to 3 pm. Park in one of the designated parking spots by Outpatient Services and call the number to register.  The lab tech will come out and take the needed samples at your car.

Visitor Restrictions in Place – All patients, visitors and staff are screened (including temperature checks) upon entering.  Everyone must wear a mask while in the facility.  BCH promotes social distancing “Western Style” and asks that everyone maintain a 6’ distance (the average size of a bear) from each other.

The BCH COVID-19 Task Force stays connected with Boundary County Emergency Management, County officials, Panhandle Health District, local hospitals and health care facilities as well as State agencies.  “We are always analyzing the current information, sharing our concerns and needs with other facilities, all while maintaining the healthcare needs of our community during this pandemic,” says Hospital CEO Preston Becker. “As a community hospital, we strive to provide the highest quality healthcare with compassion and respect. I am encouraged by the innovative thinking, the constant assessment, and desire to do what is best for the patient that is part of our daily discussions.”

###