BOZEMAN — Bozeman Health announced at a press briefing Wednesday 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%, and surgery capacity has risen to 114%.
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.
There were 1,183 new COVID cases reported in Montana on Wednesday, 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.
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 Wednesday. The program, which is funded using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, intends to positively reward those who get vaccinated in the community.