Bozeman Health 'dangerously close' to implementing surge plan due to COVID cases

coronavirus COVID-19
Posted at 3:36 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 12:01:09-04

BOZEMAN — Bozeman Health announced at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon that hospital officials are preparing staffing redistribution and surge plans due to current and expected COVID-19 patients.

Kallie Kujawa, the hospital's COVID-19 Incident Commander, shared some updates that have occurred in the past 24 hours as it relates to hospital capacity in Bozeman and Big Sky, inpatient census, and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Kujawa said the hospital's critical care unit is at 100 percent, and surgery capacity has risen to 114 percent.

All 20 beds in Bozeman Health's critical care unit are full; 16 are COVID-positive patients. Big Sky Medical Center reports two COVID-positive patients at this time. Kujawa added only five out of 20 COVID patients in the past 24 hours have been vaccinated.

Kujawa said Bozeman Health is "dangerously close" to implementing crisis standards of care and explained what the surge plan could include.

Among the options in the surge plan is scaling back on non-essential services, although Kujawa said this is not yet required. The hospital can also request National Guard assistance as it did in 2020.

Beds in areas of the hospital not typically used for inpatient care—such as endoscopy, radiology, and emergency rooms—can also be used to accommodate patients requiring hospitalization. Kujawa said the hospital is expecting to see this need imminently.

Kujawa said Bozeman Health has not yet implemented state-issued crisis standards of care but is prepared to when needed.

Kujawa pleaded with unvaccinated people in the community to get the vaccine and follow other recommended infection prevention measures such as mask wearing and staying home when feeling sick.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, there were 1,183 new COVID cases reported in Montana, with a current total of 8,670 active cases in the state, according to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS).

Information from DPHHS at this point does not include data on whether new cases occurred among vaccinated or unvaccinated people.

The number of people currently hospitalized due to COVID is 364, up from 362 on Tuesday. The cumulative number of hospitalizations in Montana due to the virus is 6,826.

The number of Montanans who have died due to COVID is now 1,858, an increase of 11 since Tuesday, according to DPHHS.

An estimated 51% of eligible residents are now vaccinated, with 475,440 Montanans now considered fully vaccinated. If you want to get vaccinated, contact your county health department, or click here.

There have been 137,389 cumulative cases of COVID in Montana. The cumulative number of recoveries is now 126,861. There have been 10,318 COVID tests administered since Tuesday.

Billings Clinic officials announced Wednesday that due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and the strain put on resources, the implementation of what’s known as Crisis Care Standards may be coming soon.

In a press release, the hospital says that although the standards are not yet in place, the implementation of these measures could come this week if COVID-19 volumes don’t slow down.

Three more Yellowstone County residents have passed away due to COVID-19 related illness, RiverStone Health reported Wednesday, raising the pandemic toll to 309 lives lost in the county.

“This crisis affects our entire regional health system. Five of seven Yellowstone County dashboard indicators are now red, signifying critical concern for healthcare system capacity, public health capacity, a high rate of positive COVID-19 tests in Yellowstone County, a high level of active cases in the county and in the region,” a press release announced.

On Wednesday, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare had 127 inpatients with COVID-19 illness. Thirty-seven of them were in ICU and 29 were on ventilators. Among the 127 COVID-19 patients, 101 weren’t vaccinated.

“Vaccination remains our fastest, most effective defense against COVID-19,” Felton said.

The number of people hospitalized in Missoula County due to COVID-19 has reached 43, tying the record high set on Nov. 7, 2020. Thirty of the people hospitalized are county residents.

St. Patrick Hospital posted Tuesday on social media that COVID-19 patients are now being triaged in the ambulance bay.

In related news, the City of Bozeman starts its vaccine incentive program for Bozeman residents this Wednesday, September 15, 2021. The program, which is funded using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, intends to positively reward those who get vaccinated in the community.

According to a press release from the city, the COVID-19 vaccine is available across the city and is a key tool in keeping our community safe from the impacts of the virus. The vaccine incentive program’s first priority is to encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated, while also recognizing that there are many in the community who have already received the vaccine.

Program details:

  • Any Bozeman resident who proves residency in the city of Bozeman and vaccination status who was vaccinated prior to September 15 may enter a raffle to win a 1,000 dollar visa gift card
  • Any Bozeman resident who proves residency in the city of Bozeman and vaccination status who is vaccinated between September 15 and November 15 may submit to automatically receive a $25 dollar visa gift card and be entered into a raffle to win a 1,000 dollar visa gift card
  • The program starts on September 15 and ends on November 15
  • Residents must bring proof of residency in the form of any piece of mail and proof of COVID-19 vaccination to Bozeman City Hall Finance Department (121 N Rouse Ave) from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. to participate in the program


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