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Kalispell VA Clinic employee tests positive for COVID

by Kianna Gardner
Daily Inter Lake | July 30, 2020 4:14 PM

An employee with the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Kalispell recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation, according to clinic officials.

The Flathead City-County Health Department assisted with contact tracing after the individual tested positive. According to JP Maganito, chief of staff at the clinic, a handful of other employees who were deemed “close contacts” were sent home to quarantine as well, but those individuals have all tested negative.

According to Maganito, the individual that tested positive notified their supervisor as soon as they started showing symptoms and contact tracing took place soon afterward.

“All of our employees have been very educated and informed about COVID-19 protocols. That should be obvious, but I need to emphasize that,” Maganito said. “They know what to look for and if they are sick or showing symptoms, they know to stay home.”

Maganito said the clinic is currently able to perform its own testing and the turnaround time for test results is typically less than 24 hours. In addition, he said the clinic offers retesting for employees so they can know for certain the individual is well before returning to work.

“One of the hardest things to deal with in terms of this virus is fear and anxiety of the unknown,” Maganito said. “So we offer that additional testing so other employees can welcome their teammate back and be rest assured that they are COVID-free. And then any patient that walks through our doors can then know they are interacting with COVID-free staff.”

Maganito said the clinic has other preventative measures in place for both employees and patients. He said each patient is offered a series of pre-screening questions to determine if they have any symptoms; if they do not have a mask they are provided one, and in addition, the facility is cleaned and sanitized “almost every evening.”

Also available to employees and veterans is an online screening tool that helps one determine if they are experiencing symptoms. Maganito said this “helps expedite the process of understanding whether someone might have the virus.” The screening test can be taken at www.va.gov/covid19screening

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4407 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com