COVID-19 outbreak reported at state hospital in Warm Springs

Posted at 9:53 AM, Nov 11, 2020

WARM SPRINGS — The Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases that has affected an entire wing including staff members.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very difficult thing for Montana State Hospital both for the staff and for the patients,” said Addictive and Mental Disorders Division Administrator Zoe Barnard.

The hospital reports six staff members and 24 active cases among patients in one wing of the hospital. The hospital has about 214 patients that have been involuntarily admitted.

“It’s a fragile population of individuals with acute and chronic mental illness. Many of whom have additional other issues,” said Barnard.

The hospital continues to take new patients and keeps them in a separate wing. Staff are tested weekly and are equipped with protective gear to avoid exposure.

“And you know you never relax because you’re trying to stay ahead of more infections so it’s just we can’t let our guard down, we can’t relax,” said spokesman Jon Ebelt.

While state hospital officials say they’re doing everything they can to control the virus, this has been a very difficult time for both patients and staff at the hospital.

“And I know that they’re tired and I know their dedication to Montanans is very high, but this is an unanticipated stress in an already difficult job, difficult technically and difficult emotionally,” said Barnard.