KIBS/KBOV Announcements

Bishop Union High School Prepares for Unorthodox Graduation

The 111 graduates from Bishop Union High School will get the chance to receive their diplomas from BUHS Administration over the course of three days next week. Though there won’t be a traditional ceremony in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will get the chance to drive to the high school’s parking lot with their family members and receive their diplomas.

This makeshift ceremony will be taking place starting May 26, 2020, until May 28, 2020. A maximum of four family members will be allowed to accompany the graduating seniors.

Graduating seniors will be assigned a specific time to pick up their graduation certificates on one of the three aforementioned dates. There is no specific time relating to when the celebration will start each day, but it will be some time during the evening.

During the three day ceremony, students will be filmed receiving their high school diplomas. After all of the footage is compiled, the high school will post it online for the general public to view on June 5th, 2020.

Highway 168 West Has Reopened

INYO COUNTY — Caltrans has reopened State Route 168 West from its winter closure. The road, which connects the town of Aspendell to Lake Sabrina, was closed for the season on November 26, 2019.

 

While the road is open to motorists, all Californians are reminded that it is critical to stay home during this time. The state is mobilizing at every level to proactively and aggressively protect the health and well-being of Californians, and Caltrans is working to keep roads open for delivery of essential goods and services.  These actions are crucial and there is no doubt that everyone’s collective efforts save lives. #StayHomeSaveLives

 

Caltrans would also like to remind everyone that the beginning of trout fishing season has been postponed until the beginning of June to help flatten the curve and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Mammoth Lakes Cancels Fourth of July Festivities

MAMMOTH LAKES, CA (April 27, 2020) – Due to the timing uncertainty for the modification or lifting of the Governor’s unprecedented Stay At Home Order, along with the state’s subsequent mitigation measures for special events, the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Fourth of July festivities.

Cancelled July 4 festivities in the Mammoth Lakes area for 2020 currently include the Annual Mammoth Lakes Fourth of July Parade, Footloose Freedom Mile, POPS in the Park, Mono Arts Council: Mammoth Celebrates the Arts Festival, Mammoth Museum at Hayden Cabin Family Celebration, and the Fireworks Spectacular at Crowley Lake.

“This is a very serious situation and now, more than ever, we must be vigilant about following guidance and directives in order to flatten the curve and to decrease the strain on our local health care system. Physical distancing and other mitigations must continue even after the Stay At Home Order is lifted. We are experiencing some respite, but we are clearly not out of the woods yet. You may say we have a bit of a cease fire, but the war is not over,” stated Dr. Boo.

“The Town of Mammoth Lakes would like to recognize and acknowledge the many long-standing partners, supporters and sponsors of the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular at Crowley Lake,” stated Stuart Brown, Parks and Recreation Director. “Canceling this generational event was an extremely difficult decision, but in our current environment of uncertainty, safety is our top priority. Next year will be bigger and better thanks to the Crowley Lake Fish Camp, L.D.C., Mono County

Community Services Area 1, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Pyro Spectaculars by Souza.”

“While we know the Fourth of July festivities are always a favorite for tens of thousands of our loyal Mammoth Lakes’ visitors, we appreciate the need to focus on health and safety,” said John Urdi, Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director.

This decision does not come lightly to any of the partnering entities. These measures are being taken to ensure the health and well-being of all Mono County residents and our many loyal visitors. The Chamber of Commerce is aware of the fiscal impacts this will have on the business community and has already begun, in partnership with the Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Lakes Tourism, working toward an alternative for the business community, locals, and visitors to celebrate our national holiday in a safe and responsible manner.

Death Valley Vandal Confesses to Defacing Property

DEATH VALLEY, CA – A man has confessed to marking multiple sites in Death Valley National Park with graffiti. Charges are pending. Graffiti that included “Steve & Lacy” was found on rocks, a well, and historic structures in Echo Canyon, Butte Valley, Homestake Dry Camp, and Crankshaft Junction. Defacing any part of the national park degrades the experience of other visitors.

Park rangers had some leads pointing to the man’s identity, and appealed to the public for more information on April 14. The National Park Service (NPS) appreciates that many people shared the story on social media and contacted the NPS with tips. The NPS Investigative Services Branch (ISB) handles tips on cases in all national parks and other NPS sites. The tip line can be reached at: 888‐653‐0009, online at www.nps.gov/ISB, or by email at nps_isb@nps.gov.

The man who confessed said that his acquaintance saw the story on social media and brought his attention to it. “Steve,” a resident of British Columbia, called the tip line himself on April 17. The following day he spoke with the investigating park ranger, confessed, and apologized.

Lacy is blameless – she is a dog.

Charges have not been filed again the man yet. Penalties could include a fine and/or restitution charges. The man’s cooperative attitude will likely be a mitigating factor.

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

This graffiti happened in January 2019 and January 2020. Park rangers are still patrolling Death Valley National Park during the current temporary closure due to coronavirus. Through traffic is allowed on CA‐190 and Daylight Pass Road from Beatty.

Coronavirus Testing Results Coming Back Faster for Northern Inyo Hospital

Northern Inyo Hospital gave their weekly COVID-19 update to members of the media on Monday, April 6, 2020.

Dr. Stacey Brown told the media that the hospital is currently functioning at full capacity. “NIH is fully functional for all services at this time. If you break your leg, we are here to treat that,” Brown expressed.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Will Timbers, shifted the discussion to COVID testing protocols at the hospital. He highlighted false negative tests, which are tests where a patient appears to not have coronavirus, but ends up actually having it. “No test that we do is going to be 100% perfect. We need to make sure to get a really good nasal swab to ensure that we can find out if they have it or not. There are false negatives, where the tests aren’t completely reliable due to limitations in the testing,” Timbers remarked.

Brown added that testing kits will continue to be reserved for essential workers and those with pre-existing conditions. The Rural Health Director said, “The priorities for testing will be for critical staff and critically ill patients. We know the spread of COVID-19 is communicable, so there is no need to test the general public.”

The amount of time it takes for Northern Inyo Hospital to obtain COVID-19 results is becoming more efficient as each week passes. Brown told the media that the hospital is now getting results back in about a day and a half. “Turnaround testing via LabCorp takes about 1.5 days now. LabCorp in Phoenix is doing a really nice job of getting the results to us,” he remarked. When NIHD started testing last month, the turnaround time for lab results was taking anywhere between 7-10 days.

Patients can expect even faster coronavirus testing in the future. The hospital is about one to two weeks away from rolling out their in-house testing, which will take about an hour. “In-house testing is about a week or two off at this point. We are hoping to do in-house testing by the end of the month,” said Brown.

Whether to wear facial covering or not to reduce the spread of coronavirus has been a hot topic of discussion throughout the world, with the CDC now recommending that the general public wear masks after previously discouraging the public from using them. Dr. Brown is encouraging the general public to cover-up. “The CDC came down with recommendations for decreasing transmission in the community by wearing masks. The push on that is to have you protect the rest of the community from spewing out the virus from your mouth. It looks like many people are transmitting coronavirus without showing symptoms, so it is smart to wear masks. My anticipation is that you are going to see the adoption of the masks in our community,” Brown expressed.

The Rural Health Director stated that the community has been stepping up as far as helping out with medical supplies. One such program that Brown says has been quite successful is “project cover-up,” a grassroots effort in which local seamstresses and quilters have created masks for healthcare workers to use. “’Project Cover-Up’ has been a great example of the community stepping up during the pandemic,” Brown said. “So far, we have had over 200 masks donated.”

Dr. Brown is encouraging people to continue to donate medical supplies. “If people are interested in dropping off Personal Protective Equipment donations, you can drop them off at the front of the hospital.”

The Interim Chief Medical Officer, Will Timbers spoke about the possibility of people building up immunity to coronavirus, and if the data he has been examining is accurate, it is a promising sign. “It does seem like with the majority of patients who have COVID, that there is some herd immunity at this point. The data suggests that there are some antibodies that are being built up in patients,” Timbers said.

Antibody testing to see if patients with COVID-19 are building immunity to the virus will be implemented in medical facilities across the world soon. As for testing locally, the public can expect it to be ready some time around May. Dr. Brown said, “Larry Weber, our Director of Diagnostic Services, says there is a rush for antibody testing to be implemented by many companies. Larry and his team have vetted a company that has a good reputation, and that looks very promising. I still don’t see testing happening for a few weeks though. Right now, we are looking at early May.”

Teamwork and Preparation Most Important in NIHD’s Response to COVID-19

It is an overused analogy, the war against novel coronavirus, but as any employee at Northern Inyo Healthcare District will tell you, the battle is real. Ironically, it is a battle most have prepared for throughout their respective careers.

“Every team member brings something to the fight,” says Dr. Stacey Brown, Medical Director of NIHD’s Rural Health Clinic and current Vice Chief of Staff. “Every department plays a role.”

For NIHD Board President Jean Turner, the show of teamwork fits right into the District’s operational design. “When I came onto the Board, I was told our basic structure is that of an inverted pyramid,”
Turner says. “Leadership at the bottom, the workforce at the top. The top is where the real work goes on; it’s where things really matter. If I wanted our community to remember one thing at this point in time, it’s this: Our staff is disciplined, well-trained, and ready for this challenge.”

The District’s fight against coronavirus began in mid-January. For weeks, Infection Preventionist Robin Christensen, RN BSN HIC, kept an eye on what was transpiring in China. On January 28, she called the first team meeting to talk about coronavirus and its potential impact on NIHD and the community. Everyone in the room knew the odds, had watched the numbers coming in from China.

“It is safe to say we wished for the best, but as healthcare workers, we always prepare for the worst,” Christensen says. “It’s who we are; it’s what we do; it is what the community expects from us at a time like this.”’

As the NIHD team developed needed plans, they carried on with providing day-to-day care. Hallway conversations and internal emails began to refer to coronavirus more frequently. The District conducted a pandemic disaster drill on February 13. The tipping point came March 6 when a two-hour coronavirus meeting gave way to a day-long review of staffing levels, supplies, policies, plans, and shared concerns.

The group met the next afternoon again for several hours. They got a late start, beginning at noon. It gave those who volunteered to help at the Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance’s Blue Ribbon Walk & Run a chance to meet their commitment. For many at NIHD, it was the last “normal” day of the month.

NIHD initiated an internal Incident Command on March 10 and continues working under it today. Incident Commands use a standardized approach to direct, control, and coordinate emergency response. More importantly, it brings people together to reach a common goal.

Like her co-workers, this was not the first time Allison Partridge, RN MSN, worked under an Incident Command. Partridge, the Director of Nursing for the Emergency and Medical-Surgical departments, knows the system well and aids Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Aspel in keeping the daily meetings on task.

Partridge now spends much of her days working with others to put together workflows for the departments that will be most affected. With guidance from Infection Preventionist Christensen, Partridge
and others closely watch the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Public Health Department for direction. No area or service escaped review.

“We track daily our current availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the recommendations for use,” Partridge says. “Additionally, we have made modifications in how we provide services and how visitors access the campus. All of these measures are in place to protect our teams and community. We encourage all employees to adhere both while at work and at home to the recommendations issued by national, state, and local government.”

Carefully crafted plans address the care of Patients Under Investigation (PUIs). Partridge says the standardized workflows are based on the patient’s level of care, whether that be critical care at the hospital or self-isolation at home. Care of multiple positive COVID-19 patients within the hospital remains an area of concern for the small 25-bed hospital.

“A great amount of planning and preparation has gone into every action, and it’s still ongoing,” Partridge says. She notes that just this week, the team was searching every square inch of the facility for places to place more beds. No space is overlooked. An unused and unfinished room located in the two-story hospital was turned into a four-bed safe patient care area within hours.

As for staffing, the level is adequate at this time. The District is working closely with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union on staffing plans should the virus take hold of the community.

As non-essential services are scaled back, staff in those areas become available for use in others. Nurses and caregivers were surveyed to see if they would be OK to serve in other departments they were cross-trained to work in. Recently retired nurses may be considered for voluntary return to bolster staffing numbers. The dedicated care given by generations of NIHD nurses is legendary in the community.

They were also asked who would be willing to work with critical coronavirus cases. No one will be asked to step into a situation they are uncomfortable with — and to date, no one has opted out.

As for the physicians, Dr. Brown and Dr. William Timbers, NIHD’s Chief of Staff, are relying on the aid and advice of many of the District’s Medical Chiefs – Dr. Richard Meredick (Orthopedics), Dr. Charlotte Helvie (Pediatrics), Dr. Sierra Bourne (Emergency), and others. The Medical Support Staff office issued emergency credentials for other physicians in the area should their aid be required at bedsides.

The Rural Health Clinic team launched drive-in coronavirus testing well before some larger, urban hospitals did. The move was based on when the RHC offered drive-in flu shots more than a decade ago.
“Hometown health care can work anywhere, even in the big city,” Dr. Brown smiles.

Dr. Brown’s reliance on RHC Directors Paul Connolly and Jannalyn Lawrence, RN, is evident. Both work closely with the District’s outpatient clinics and played critical roles in clearing barriers for drive-in testing. When offered kudos for the work, Lawrence scoffed. “One Team, One Goal,” she says, incurring the closing line of the District’s mission statement.

Later, as Director of Nursing Partridge studies the endless worklists that paper the walls of Incident Command, she agreed with Lawrence. “Teamwork has played a huge role in managing every aspect of this situation,” she says. “This collaboration has taken place across all disciplines and has included a multiagency approach across Inyo and Mono counties. This great work truly exemplifies our mission of ‘One Team, One Goal, Your Health.’”

Meanwhile, as another day ends for the District team, Infection Preventionist Christensen is in her office. It is quiet in the usually bustling hallway; the result of the District’s temporary telework plan. Almost 80 employees are working from home, practicing social distancing.

Laying across Christensen’s desk are signs of a community lending its support to its healthcare workers: Packages of the valued N95 masks recovered from businesses and home garages, plus several handcrafted face masks. The handcrafted masks, with bright patterns of cacti, cats, and paisley, are especially touching
to Christensen.

NIHD is looking into options that could allow the homemade masks to be used as covers for approved personal protective equipment. That would occur if, and only if, NIHD’s supply of approved masks is
depleted. The covers would help keep the N95 masks free of transferred hand oils, possibly extending the life of the N95s.

“One team,” Christensen says, circling her index finger, gesturing from east to west, north to south. “It’s all of us in the community. Together, we will get through this.”

Inyo County has Second Case of Coronavirus

INYO COUNTY, March 26, 2020 – Inyo County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, received notification during the evening of March 25 from Northern Inyo Healthcare District regarding a second positive COVID-19 test for an Inyo County resident. The patient presented to Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s Rural Health Clinic with symptoms associated with COVID-19, and was tested for COVID-19 based on symptoms and other risk-factors.

 

Inyo County Public Health is working to determine the source of the infection, and conducting a thorough investigation to identify potential exposures and notify contacts. At this time the patient is currently isolated at home. As of March 25, NIHD currently has 29 COVID-19 tests pending, and Toiyabe Indian Healthcare Project has 2 COVID-19 tests pending. Due to the volume of tests being analyzed currently in California, the turnaround time can take several days.

 

“I want to emphasize the importance of adhering to the Inyo County Public Health Order; compliance is mandatory,” stated Dr. James Richardson. “At this time nobody should be leaving their homes unless it is for essential purposes only. There should be no social gatherings, and every person who feels ill should be in contact with their physician and self-isolating at home.”

 

On March 20, in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, Governor Gavin Newson ordered California residents to stay home. Additionally, on March 20 an Inyo County Public Health Order was released prohibiting non-essential public gatherings, closure and limitations of certain businesses, and required social distancing measures. The full Inyo County Public Health Order can be located here: https://www.inyocounty.us/sites/default/files/2020-03/ORDER_3.20.20_0.pdf

 

The public must continue to practice appropriate preventative measures, such as avoiding contact with sick individuals, wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, practicing social distancing, and adherence to State and County Orders. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath, and think you may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, call your health care provider before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

 

The County of Inyo, Northern Inyo Healthcare District, and Unified Command partners are committed to keeping Inyo County residents up to date with the most accurate information. You are encouraged to visit https://www.inyocounty.us/covid-19  for the most recent press releases and community updates.

Bishop Knock Off Local Rivals in Inyo County Showdown

The Bishop Broncos took care of business against the Lone Pine Golden Eagles Tuesday afternoon, beating their local rivals 11-0 in five innings.

Just like so many times last year, the first inning for Bishop was fantastic. Steve Omohundro’s team scored eight runs. Lone Pine Pitcher, Kris Nelson started the inning out walking a few batters. The senior was missing his pitches high early in the inning. Bishop quickly took advantage of the walks, driving in multiple runs.

Nelson didn’t receive much help from his defense in the bottom of the first. In total, Lone Pine committed five errors on plays that should have been routine in just one inning. The Eagle outfielders were having trouble fielding fly balls, which would have gotten Mike Button’s team out of trouble before it was too late.

Ace Selters, who started the game for Bishop on the mound, pitched just two innings. It was quite apparent that Selters is poised to have a breakout year in his Junior campaign. The pitcher struck out five batters in two innings of work.

Billy Mckinze took over pitching duties in the third inning, and had quite an impressive showcase. The lefty threw for two innings, giving up just two hits, and striking out three batters.

Going in to the bottom of the fourth inning, Bishop were up 9-0 against the Eagles. Manager, Steve Omohundro put in some of the reserves to give them some game experience. One of the standout hitters was Andrew Steedle, who did not register any hits going in to Tuesday’s game. Steedle saw a pitch from Nelson and ripped it into left field, driving in two runs, and giving Bishop an 11-0 lead.

 

Jake Frigerio closed out the game for Bishop, and struck out one batter in the fifth inning to ensure the game did not go the distance.

From a batting perspective, one thing is very clear: Braeden Gillem is now a power hitter. Last year, Gillem got on base mostly through ways of finesse. He did a nice job of getting walked or putting the ball into gaps between the infielders last season. However, if Tuesday’s game is anything to judge Gillem’s season on, he will have a good chance to hit a few balls out of the park. During two of his at bats, the Junior drove the ball deep into the outfield.

Bishop get High Desert League play started next week against a tough Rosamond opponent, who are considered to be one of the favorites to win the league.

Eastern Sierra Foundation Provides Scholarships for First Responder Volunteers

The Eastern Sierra Foundation awarded 24 full scholarships for Inyo County volunteer firefighters and search and rescue team members to complete an emergency medical technician program at Cerro Coso Community College this semester. The total value of scholarships awarded was nearly $15,000. The Eastern Sierra Foundation is pleased to join Big Pine Fire Protection District, Big Pine Schools, and Cerro Coso Community College in making this course available, accessible, and affordable for our local volunteers who already dedicate their time and energy to protecting Inyo County residents and visitors. The EMT program requires nearly 200 hours of class time and skills practice; after completion of the course, EMT certification requires passing the National Registry EMT Exam. Thank you to all the volunteers for taking on this additional, important, and onerous responsibility on behalf of our entire community – we appreciate you!

The Eastern Sierra Foundation provides full scholarships for ANY and ALL Inyo County residents who attend the Cerro Coso Community College, Bishop Campus full time. In addition, $300 per semester is awarded for required textbooks. If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please visit the Bishop Campus at 4090 West Line Street, Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30AM-1:00PM and 2:00PM-6:00PM. Deadline for Fall 2020 scholarships is June 11, 2020.

If you would like to donate to the Eastern Sierra Foundation, please make the check payable to the “Eastern Sierra Foundation”, and note “Scholarships” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to ESF C/O Jeff Griffiths 199 Edward St Bishop, California 93515. Please visit www.easternsierrafoundation.org/ or contact Julie Faber, ESF President, at 760-920-7675 for more information.

 

Inyo County Gives Funds to IMACA for Homeless Mental Health Treatment

Inyo County has received funding from the State of California to combat the homelessness crisis. California recently gave Inyo County $100,000 via Senate Bill 840 (SB 840).

The plan is for the money to be used to increase mental health services at a local level. The Board of Supervisors are choosing to send $70,000 of the allocated money to the Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) via a Memorandum of Understanding.

At this time, there are no further plans for routine scheduled funding from the state to Inyo County and IMACA. The money given is essentially a one time deal between the state and county.

With this increase in funding, both the county and IMACA hope that mental health services will create a pathway that “matches people to available housing resources and services” according to county documents.

After Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, District 2 Supervisor, Jeff Griffiths discussed the increase in mental health funding saying, “The county has received money from the state and gave money to IMACA. This money will help individuals dealing with homelessness, because we know that mental healthcare is shown to help transition people into housing.”