Missoula hospitals conserving protection gear in case of COVID-19 "surge"

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Posted at 7:22 AM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 16:17:25-04

MISSOULA — Missoula's hospital administrators say they are putting a top priority on keeping health workers safe, as they respond to the growing threat from COVID-19.

Administrators from Community Medical Center and St. Patrick Hospital say they have taken a series of steps to keep doctors, nurses and other health care workers safe as they've mounted the initial local coronavirus response. That includes tight restrictions on hospital access.

Fears are mounting nationally about the supply of on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and all hospitals -- including those here in Montana -- are in conservation mode. It’s also another reason that elective surgeries have been canceled.

"That has led us to be consistent, in terms of eliminating elective surgeries, elective tests. Really challenging ourselves to put ourselves in the best position for what we know to be a surge that will be coming, at a point that we obviously can't identify,” Providence St. Patrick Hospital Chief Executive Joyce Dombrowski said.

"We have suspended all elective surgeries throughout our platform in order to preserve, and conserve on our personal protective equipment,” commented Community Medical Center CEO Dean French.

“And we are looking for donations of any type of medical-grade, personal protective equipment. If someone has that we ask them to drop that at our front entrance. It has to be in an unopened box,” he added.

Both hospitals have also been expanding their screening operations over the past week.