KALISPELL — Flathead County is reporting a high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations as healthcare workers warn residents that the pandemic is not over.
“Over the last couple of weeks that number has kind of rebounded and we’re really kind of back up to where we were in the October, November time,” Logan Health Hospitalist Dr. Laura Mirch told MTN News.
A weekly report generated by Logan Health shows 39 patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 with eight patients being treated in the ICU, three of whom are on ventilators.
“I know people have been talking about, it’s a milder variant, people don’t get sick almost a laissez-faire mentality, I wouldn’t say that, we are still in that realm of we don’t know who gets sick with this and who doesn’t, obviously risk-factors play a part but we’ve actually seen fairly younger people in the 40’s to 50’s getting severe disease,” said Dr. Mirch.
Dr. Mirch — who works on the front line treating COVID-19 positive patients — says unvaccinated people are experiencing more severe symptoms during the omicron variant.
“Severe fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, really profound dehydration, I’ve had patients come in with kidney failure, pretty profound kidney failure, as a result of more sort of the overall kind of systemic effects not just specifically respiratory but we’re seeing also the respiratory effects as well,” added Dr. Mirch.
Dr. Mirch said capacity in the COVID ward has fluctuated around 100% the past couple of weeks as Logan Health takes in COVID patients from hard-hit areas in Montana, Idaho — and even as far away as Minnesota.
“We have sort of said you know we will do what we can, we’re going to stay open as much as we can, we will make beds any way we can, mainly because we know other places are in dire straits right now and if we have the ability to help, we will,” said Dr. Mirch.
Now two years into fighting COVID-19, Dr. Mirch is concerned about the toll the pandemic is taking on the mental health of healthcare workers.
“When you watch multiple people die over a very short period of time, I think the moral injury that occurs is actually fairly real, I do worry a lot about my colleagues, I worry a lot about our nursing staff and healthcare workers in general,” said Dr. Mirch.
The Montana state COVID-19 tracking website shows a total of 25,332 cases have been confirmed to date in Flathead County including 23,712 recoveries and 235 deaths. Additionally, 1,385 active cases were being reported in the county on Friday.
A total of 44,169 county residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 representing 44% of the eligible population.