Northern Wilds Magazine
Sawtooth Mountain Clinis in Grand Marais, MN

A Message from Sawtooth Mountain Clinic


New procedures in virtually all aspects of clinic operations in place to prepare for COVID-19.

(GRAND MARAIS, MN – April 1, 2020) During the current State of Emergency, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (SMC) wants community members to know it has made significant preparations in the event COVID-19 arrives in Cook County. SMC has established enhanced services in accordance with recommended guidelines for those that may be experiencing symptoms of COVD-19, while also ensuring that SMC remains safe and accessible for preventative care and other essential services. 

“Our staff has been working tirelessly in recent weeks anticipating the potential arrival of COVID-19 and making preparations to address patient needs,” said Kate Surbaugh, Chief Executive Officer of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, “We are working closely with our partners at North Shore Health, Cook County Public Health and Human Services, and Cook County Emergency Management to take all the necessary steps to adjust our operations in order to be prepared. In the past two weeks, our staff have quickly pivoted to a new way of running the clinic in order to keep our community as safe as possible. In that short time, we have reduced the number of staff on-site to limit the number of contacts for patients, added the ability to order COVID-19 tests, created a separate area to see patients with respiratory symptoms and launched a telemedicine option.”

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic has greatly increased telemedicine capabilities in order to provide patient care remotely. In many cases, patients can schedule appointments with their SMC healthcare provider without the need to physically visit the clinic. “We want our patients to continue to take care of themselves during this time,” said Surbaugh. “This is not a time to neglect your preventative healthcare – it is time to learn what your options are. In addition to telehealth services, we have many measures in place to ensure the clinic is a safe place for healthy patients. Our staff is ready to help you make a plan to continue to receive the care you need. We are here for you.”

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic has named Dr. Kurt Farchmin to lead the COVID-19 response team. “The best thing you can do for your community and yourself is to let the clinic know right away if you feel sick. Fever, cough, and fatigue are the most common symptoms, but any common cold symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat and body aches can also be part of the illness.” said Dr. Farchmin.  

Farchmin also points out that many people have extremely mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. That is why it is very important to stay at home following Governor Walz’ order – what may be mild for you will be very serious for others. SMC has nurses ready to answer your questions about the virus, testing, quarantine and what services are available to those who are ill. Do not hesitate to call.  

SMC providers and staff also want to thank the people of Cook County for complying with the guidelines which have necessarily interrupted normal everyday life. Most non-essential businesses in Cook County have closed. The Cook County Board of Commissioners has issued a travel advisory encouraging visitors and seasonal property owners to avoid travel to Cook County and to self-quarantine for 14 days when returning to Cook County.  Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a “Stay at Home” order that went into effect on March 27.

“At this point, we continue to recommend the same approach: social distancing, asking people to quarantine if they are coming from outside the area, and identifying people who have symptoms so that we can help them isolate.  We have recommended these measures to stay ahead of COVID-19 and because this is how you manage a pandemic,” said Dr. Farchmin.

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic also asks the community to stay informed and stay engaged. Use reliable national, state and regional resources to stay abreast of new COVID-19 information. Trustworthy local and national resources include the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic website, the SMC Facebook page, Cook County’s website, and the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). 



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