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March 21-22, 2020
The Dalles, Oregon
Vol. 229, Issue 24
MCMC closes to
visitors as plan
Hospital will treat and test
for virus at separate facility
Ari smiles and laughs as Wilbur the pig nuzzles his ankle, sitting in the grass in front of Colonel Wright school. Ari was
taking Wilbur for a walk—on a leash. Schools closures statewide have been extended.
Photo courtesy Brent Larson
Handle with Care program launched
Mid-Columbia Medical Center has instituted a COVID-19 prepared-
ness plan in collaboration with local health agencies and as part of that
plan is taking immediate steps to mitigate exposure in the community,
according to a press release.
As of Wednesday, March 18:
• Visitors are no longer be allowed. This policy applies to all MCMC
facilities including the main hospital and all outpatient clinics. Patients
and loved ones are encouraged to communicate via phone and/or video
calls. If you are a caregiver, a staff member will communicate with you by
phone to coordinate care instructions and patient pick-up. Minimal ex-
ceptions are in place for end-of-life patients, laboring mothers, pediatric
patients, and trauma and critically ill emergency room patients.
• Patients with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough or shortness
of breath, should call their primary care provider’s office. Please know
that you may be asked to visit a clinic site different than your regular care
provider’s office, or to see a provider other than your own. As a precau-
tionary measure, and to protect patients, those with the above symptoms
will be seen at our MCMC Family Medicine location, 1620 E. 12th Street.
Those with an appointment for a routine exam at the Family Medicine
location will be contacted by MCMC staff.
• All wellness visits—for children and adults—will be moved to
either MCMC Internal Medicine or MCMC Pediatrics. MCMC Internal
Medicine is located within Water’s Edge at 551 Lone Pine Blvd. and
MCMC Pediatrics is located at 1935 E. 19th St.
• Elective procedures, surgeries and some diagnostic imaging pro-
cedures are being postponed beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Urgent and emergency surgeries and imaging will continue as needed.
“These are not decisions we make lightly. The health and safety of our
patients and staff are always our top priority,” said Stephanie Bowen,
MCMC public information officer. “We apologize for any inconvenience
this poses to you and your family, and we appreciate your understanding
during this challenging time.”
No cases of COVID-19
in Wasco, Sherman and
Pictured at the formal signing of the memorandum of understanding that put the new Handle with Care program in place
are, from left, Claire Ranit, Candy Armstrong, superintendent of North Wasco County School District 21, Ryan Wraught,
superintendent of South Wasco County School District 1, Jack Henderson, superintendent of Dufur School District,
Wasco County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Thomas, Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill, Oregon State Police Lt. Les Kipper, and The
Dalles Police Department Detective Sgt. Eric Macnab.
■ By The Neita
The program, which is in all
Wasco County schools in all grades,
got off the ground last month.
In a new program called “Handle Thomas envisioned each local
police agency might be utilizing it
with Care,” area law enforcement
multiple times a week.
agencies are giving local schools a
Thomas first heard about the
heads up when they learn a student
program a few years ago from Claire
has been exposed to trauma.
Ranit, who at the time was working
The schools aren’t given any
on a grant aimed at building com-
information about the event, but
are just told the student needs to be munity resiliency and trauma-in-
handled with care.
“This comes into effect anytime
Now she is a consultant on
there’s a potentially traumatic
event, whether it be a car crash,
resilience-building practices and
a domestic violence situation, an
emergency operations planning.
assault. It’s basically any stressful
Trauma-informed practice is a
event that’s going to impact the
structure that understands, recog-
child’s ability to learn, remember
nizes and responds to the effects
and practice the emotional intel-
of all types of trauma. It represents
a shift from asking “what’s wrong
ligence side of stuff,” said Wasco
with you?” to “what happened to
County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Thomas,
who spearheaded the local start of
Ranit’s grant work focused on the
health care sector, first responders
“At that point the school takes
and law enforcement. Her grant re-
extra steps so it continues as a
learning environment rather than
quired her to work with fellow grant
the child trying to get through the
recipients across the country, and
day dealing with all the traumatic
that was how she first learned of the
events they were exposed to,” he
“Handle with Care” program, which
started in West Virginia.
“Trauma’s really defined by the
Once she told Thomas about
individual person,” Thomas said.
Handle with Care, that led to a se-
“Something that’s traumatic for you ries of meetings with local schools
is not going to be traumatic for me. and police agencies. Details had to
That’s the brilliant thing about this
be worked with attorneys to ensure
program. If the individual police
confidential information wasn’t
officer makes contact with the child shared. Police reports had to be
and they feel they’re having some
modified to create a check-box for
trauma, then they can do a hand-off matters that warranted a Handle
to this program, just to give them
with Care designation.
Each school has a designee
and an alternate, each of whom
receives an email that literally only
says “Handle with Care,” and the
child’s name, Thomas said.
Ranit did training at all the
schools on how trauma affects the
She said humans experience a
stress response to stressful events,
regardless of age. But adults have
a few more things working in their
favor when it comes to responding
First, the adult brain is fully
formed and can access executive
functioning skills and it has had
more time to build internal coping
mechanisms. Adult brains have
developed emotional intelli-
gence to understand and manage
Kids don’t have that, she said.
They’re just learning to identify
feelings, to notice how they’re
feeling and once they notice them,
how to manage them.
Stress also alters how the brain
accesses memories. “So even 24
hours after a stressor our brain is
not necessarily functioning in a
way that would support cognitive
adaptive learning, which is what
we’re asking kids to do” in school.
The prefrontal cortex of the
brain allows a person to retain
information and apply it. School
asks kids to block out distractions
and to focus and redirect their
attention, which is all the work of
the prefrontal cortex.
There were no cases of COVID-19 in Wasco, Sherman or Gilliam
counties as of Thursday, March 19, 2020, according to the North Central
Public Health District. If a case is confirmed, the District will release that
information to the public, according to the press release.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday announced new social distancing
measures, aimed at slowing the transmission of novel coronavirus, the
virus that causes COVID-19. All events and gatherings of 25 people or
more are canceled for at least the next four weeks, exempting workplaces,
grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores.
Restaurants, bars and other establishments that offer food or beverages
for sale are restricted to carry-out and delivery only for at least the next
four weeks. All other businesses are urged to implement strong social
distancing measures and provide their services similarly to take-out for
restaurants if possible. If not, they should close temporarily, she said.
She also recommended that Oregonians avoid gatherings of 10 people
A large gathering is defined as any event in a space in which appro-
priate social distancing of at least three feet cannot be maintained.
Gatherings include concerts, festivals, conferences, worship services,
sporting events, etc.
Not complying with these measures is a Class C misdemeanor, but
Brown urged people to follow the spirit of the law to avoid straining law
enforcement resources. The measures are aimed at slowing the transmis-
sion of COVID-19 and preventing a surge of hospitalizations that would
overwhelm the healthcare system.
Other community-wide measures like good hand hygiene, frequently
cleaning high-touch surfaces, and staying home when ill are essential to
decrease further community spread of the novel coronavirus.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of
Cherry Fest postponed
The 41st Annual Northwest Cherry Festival has been postponed to July,
and will be managed in partnering with Fort Dalles Fourth celebrations,
according The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.
After careful consideration of the rapidly changing situation, our board
of directors and the team at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce
decided to postpone the festival Thursday, March 19, 2020.
At its core, the Northwest Cherry Festival is a celebration of community
and the chamber is doing everything in its power to protect that commu-
nity. said events coordinator Katie McClintock. “Even with the precau-
tionary measures we had planned to ensure adequate sanitation and
airflow, the risk is too great to hold it at this time,” she said. The festival
has been rescheduled to July 3-5, 2020. It was originally scheduled April
The chamber will partner with Fort Dalles Fourth and Nolan Hare
See COVID-19, page A2
See CARE, page A3