Saturday, September 19, 2020

Virus deaths linked to Whitefish long-term care facility

Daily Inter Lake | August 29, 2020 12:00 PM

Four recent COVID-19-related deaths in Flathead County have been tied to Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation Center as the facility faces an outbreak that has resulted in 41 positives so far between staff and residents.

Of the total cases, 27 of those are residents within the long-term care facility, according to a press release issued Friday evening by Reid Crickmore, executive director of Whitefish Care and Rehab.

Late last week, Crickmore said the facility had been waiting on a series of tests for residents and staff, and on Thursday he confirmed with the state testing laboratory in Helena that 14 individuals had tested positive. Now, one week later, that number is 41.

According to Crickmore all staff and residents have been tested multiple times and many of the individuals that have been tested have had no symptoms and others are starting to recover.

“The two headwinds we continue to face are asymptomatic positive people and the timeliness of lab results, sometimes taking four to seven days to get results,” Crickmore said in a prepared statement released Thursday evening. “We continue to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 including, screening, robust cleaning and the execution of our Department of Public Health-approved mitigation plan.”

According to the press release, the plan requires immediate testing for symptomatic people and the sectioning off of the facility depending on positive tests, symptomatic patients and more. The facility was “one of the first in Montana to limit visitors, screen employees and “implement a rigorous cleaning schedule,” beginning on March 12.

The facility continues to remain in contact with families and emergency contacts as results continue to come in.

“This update would not be complete without recognizing the healthcare heroes that have stayed strong through managing COVID-19,” Crickmore said. “They have been wonderful. There is no doubt, that with these heroes by our collective side, we will make it through this pandemic and move forward in providing great care to the people of Whitefish Care and Rehab.”

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4407 or