Boardman health center lands federal funding to expand COVID-19 testing

WASHINGTON — Columbia River Community Health Services in Boardman is receiving more than $162,000 to expand local COVID-19 testing, according to a press release.

The allocation was announced Friday by Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden as a part of $9 million in funding for 30 different Oregon hospitals, health facilities and county governments.

“The lack of coronavirus test capacity throughout Oregon and nationwide leaves far too many people with uncertainty about this public health threat in their communities,” Wyden said in a statement. “I am gratified these 30 medical providers in our state will receive these urgently needed resources to protect themselves and the Oregonians counting on them for care.”

A plan adopted by the Morrow County Board of Commissioners for reopening businesses noted that Columbia River Health has contracted with Interpath Labs in Pendleton for testing.

According to the release, the health facilities can use the funding for “testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their local communities.” This includes purchasing personal protective equipment, staff training, outreach, laboratory services and contact tracing.

The funding can also be used to expand drive-up and walk-in testing services, the release stated.

The funds will be allocated by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, and is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Expanding testing capacity is an integral step in our fight to treat, and eventually reopen, our communities,” Merkley said in a statement. “I hope this winds up being a down payment on the national strategy and national resources for widespread testing and contact tracing that the country is desperately waiting for.”