County housing isolated COVID-19 patients at Spokane Valley hotel

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SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash – Spokane County is housing isolated COVID-19 patients at a hotel in Spokane Valley, according to public documents and an employee at the hotel who wishes to remain anonymous.

The employee called the 4 News Now newsroom Wednesday afternoon and said that, since Monday, a portion of the hotel has been shut off from staff and other guests. He says he was told by management. He also said he saw people going from that floor to the lobby and outside to smoke.

4 News Now called the Spokane Regional Health District and a spokesperson said she wouldn’t confirm the location of any isolation facilities so that they can “protect the people who have to use them.” She said there was one isolation center in use right now and said the business was operating as normal while patients were there.

When asked about the people leaving to smoke, the spokesperson said the people staying there are supposed to be escorted when leaving their rooms.

The county laid out options for these isolation facilities when applying for a variance to move to phase two of the governor’s reopening plan. In it, the county had to identify where people could stay if they did not have the option to self-isolate at home.

In that document, the county lists several options for housing. They include My Place Hotel as the primary option. Other options include EWU’s Morrison Hall as an alternate, the Fire Training Center as a contingency and the Veteran’s Memorial Arena as an emergency option.

Backup options include the Quality Inn, GU student housing, the Warehouse athletic facility and the Spokane County Fairgrounds.

Elsewhere in that document, the county says that on June 1st, a “hotel-style isolation facility will come online with expanded capacity to house 64 people in individual rooms with wrap-around services allowing flexibility for isolation and quarantine.” The My Place Hotel option lists capacity for 64 people.

4 News Now called My Place Hotel, but the manager there would not confirm any information. She told a reporter that the hotel did not have a contract with the health district, but did say the health district toured the hotel at one time.

According to the variance application, the cost of renting a portion of My Place Hotel would be $61 a night or $36,600 a month for 20 rooms. It also includes details about staffing for those facilities, including medical staff, a facility manager and a project manager.

4 News Now called the health district again to try and confirm any of the details, based on the public documents that appear to lay out the terms of the agreement. The spokesperson again refused to confirm, saying the health district’s main priority is to protect the patients.

When we asked another member of the health board if the patients are being housed at My Place Hotel, he said “that is my understanding.”

4 News Now believes that the location of the motel is a matter of public record, especially because any funds paid are public funds. We respect the patients’ right to privacy, but believe telling the public where these facilities are and how they’re being used is not the same as disclosing names or other health information. We also believe transparency would help the community better understand the public health response.

Note: A previous version of this story said the health district has not entered into a contract with any facilities. The health district spokesperson now says “we do have a contract now, but I didn’t disclose that location.”

4 News Now has requested a copy of the contract, which is a public document.

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