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Medical Education Program to Convene Professionals to Tackle COVID-19

March 24, 2020

MOSCOW, Idaho — March 23, 2020 — A five-state medical education program that includes the University of Idaho will bring Idaho medical providers together Tuesday, March 24, to discuss strategies to address challenges stemming from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), part of the WWAMI Medical Education Program that includes Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, will host infectious disease and geriatric care specialists for a virtual panel presentation and a question-and-answer period for medical providers.

Idaho health care providers, who have been given the information needed to hear the presentation, can access at any point during the 90-minute session, which begins starting at 11 a.m. Pacific time.

Project ECHO uses video conferencing to connect community providers across Idaho with specialists in regular, real-time collaborative sessions. The sessions, designed around case-based learning and mentorship, help health care professionals gain the expertise required to meet the needs of residents.

“Connecting Idaho’s health workforce virtually is exactly what we do; we had everything in place to quickly design a COVID-19 presentation for Idaho’s health care providers, who are on the frontlines and working under significant duress,” ECHO Idaho’s Director Lachelle Smith said. “Given the rapidly changing landscape, we felt it was crucial to provide a timely and effective response.”

Panelists include Carolyn Bridges, MD, and Megan Dunay, MD-MPH.

  • Dr. Bridges is a member of the Governor’s Coronavirus Working Group. She is a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physician whose career includes research and policy on influenza prevention and control.
  • Dr. Dunay is a geriatrician at the Boise VA Medical Center and medical director for Geriatrics and Extended Care for the VA's Northwest Region.

“This is a moment in history where something is required from each of us,” Dunay said. “We need to step up and share the experience, insight and resources we have to empower our neighbors to care for themselves and for their patients.”

Tom Reinhardt, CEO of Cascade Medical Center in Cascade, emphasized the strain COVID-19 puts on Idaho’s resources.

“Before, medical providers in Idaho were isolated due to the rural nature of the state, but COVID-19 has isolated us even more because of social distancing,” he said.

Reinhardt has participated in ECHO Idaho programs on behavioral health and opioid use and was pleased to learn of the COVID-19 session.

“I applaud ECHO Idaho for being creative and flexible in its response to COVID-19,” he said. “For the same reasons that ECHO has been helpful with behavioral health and opioid use education, it will be important and helpful for this pandemic.”

(Note to media: Reporters interested in accessing the presentation should contact Kayla Blades, Project ECHO program coordinator, at, 715-491-8496.)

Media Contact

Lindsay Lodis
Marketing and Communications Manager
Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at