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Subject: Northwest Rural Health Conference; IMPORTANT NOTICE

Dear Colleagues,
Yesterday, on March 5th Governor Inslee declared a public health emergency about the current Covid-19 virus and asked for voluntary cooperation to limit social events of greater than ten people. This together with the public health concerns and guidance voiced by the Department of Health lead us to believe the cancellation of the Northwest Rural Health Conference scheduled for March is the most responsible action we can take for the welfare of the rural health communities in our state.

Based on our inquiries with the hotel and a discussion with the planning committee we will consider whether we can reschedule for an alternate date in 2020. DOH has just instituted a ban on all non-essential travel for March, April and May so we will have to carefully consider how rescheduling 2020 could collide with 2021. DOH cannot support planning for two events at the same time.

Many other organizations are also asking for a ban on non-essential travel and we believe as important as this conference is, it does not meet the definition of essential to health and safety and is therefore not worthy of risking the health of our participants, presenters, and exhibitors. The cancellations began to come in after the press conference as those travel bans were put in place at various organizations.

We will be making every effort to mitigate the impacts of the March cancellation and believe the goodwill of Washingtonians and attendees from our region at this time will come through.

Please understand we are deeply sad and very aware of the hard work that many have put into this year’s conference. We are grateful for every contribution members of the planning committee have made.

The co-chair organizations and the conference planner met to establish a work plan for cancellation. We would like to ask for your assistance with the following:

  1. If you have marketing on your website or through other media please put up a cancellation notice. We suggest the first paragraph of this email offers you example standard language for the cancellation notice. We are not going to make a decision about possible postponing to an alternate date until the epidemic’s duration is more predictable. This spring is now off the table.
  2. If your organization planned to hold your annual meeting to comply with by-laws or contracts, please make an alternate arraignment for a virtual meeting.
  3. For those presenters that you personally invited, please do reach out and let them know. You can let them know that our conference manager, Emily, will be sending out a notice addressing any logistics related to the conference cancellation to all presenters.

Kindly

Pat Justis

Bethany Osgood

President

Washington Rural Health Association

Pat Justis, MA

Executive Director

Rural Health/Office of Community Health Systems

Health Systems Quality Assurance

Washington State Department of Health

111 Israel Rd SE  MS 47853

Tumwater, WA 98504-7853

[email protected]

360-236-2805 | www.doh.wa.gov

Mobile 360-338-2875