Pharmacy drive-thru soft opening Dec. 21

Yellowhawk addition to help with social distancing

By Cary Rosenbaum of the CUJ

MISSION – The new Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center’s pharmacy drive-thru on the Umatilla Indian Reservation is just what the community needs during times like these.

With the COVID-19 pandemic risk increasing, prompting a two-week freeze by Gov. Kate Brown in November, the extra distancing will make acquisition of medicine safer.

There will be a soft opening for the new addition on Dec. 21, and a Grand Opening on Jan. 12, according to health center officials.

“Social distancing, social distancing, social distancing,” said Yellowhawk Risk Manager/Quality Improvement Coordinator Eric Gabriel. “The addition helps to stop the spread of COVID by keeping patients and staff safer from potential exposure. Anytime we can provide the patient a new service that makes their care a bit more convenient is a good feeling.”

Pharmacy Director Angie Dearing echoed Gabriel.

“The pharmacy drive-thru window will provide a safe and convenient option for Tribal patients to minimize COVID-19 virus exposure,” she said. “The pharmacy staff have been offering temporary services of curbside delivery, home delivery and mailing prescription orders when requested.”

A drive-through window had been planned in the past, but it did not seem feasible at the old facility, Gabriel said.

“Normally a project like this takes much longer to go through the approval process, get permits, break ground and such,” he said, “but all parties worked together as a team and made it possible to procure the appropriate contractors and begin building the extension soon after approval. Even through the unforeseen smoke from nearby fires and COVID, the contractors stayed on schedule or ahead of schedule.”

The 950-square-foot project as well as paving and landscaping was funded by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.
The Board of Trustees approved the project in July.