Mayor urges Missoulians to get COVID-19 vaccine

John Engen
Posted at 12:09 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 14:15:51-04

MISSOULA — Missoula Mayor John Engen is sounding the alarm that local health care facilities are struggling with capacity because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Engen says the chief executive of Providence St. Patrick Hospital reports the hospital and rural facilities in the state are experiencing COVID surges, staffing shortages, and patient capacity issues.

"Today I spoke with Joyce Dombrouski, chief executive of Providence St. Patrick Hospital, who told me St. Patrick and rural Montana hospitals are all experiencing COVID surges, staffing shortages and patient capacity issues,” Engen said. “With the highly infectious Delta variant, stressed and burned-out health care workforce and many people e still unvaccinated, their COVID-19 admissions are rising faster than they can keep up."

“These factors are forcing St. Pat’s to put their Emergency Room on diversion, Our urgent care and outpatient clinics are also at capacity – and we haven’t reached the peak of the latest surge," Engen continued. "They are now being asked to take patients from surrounding states, The simplest and easiest way to prevent our health care system from being overrun is by getting vaccinated.”

The same situation is at play at Community Medical Center, according to a news release.

“Jim Gillhouse, chief operating officer at Community, tells me that the hospital is extremely concerned about the current situation as well,” Engen said. “When our two medical centers are sounding the alarm, I listen.”

Engen -- who himself contracted COVID-19 -- says one of the ways out of this situation is to get a COVID-19 vaccination. "I’m pleading with you to get vaccinated,” Engen said.

Numbers from the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) showed 25 COVID-19 related hospitalizations -- inclduing 13 county residents -- as of Thursday.

Missoula County reported the second-highest number of new COVID-19 cases on Thursday with 61 new cases. Meanwhile, the number of local active cases has risen to 326.

The Montana COVID-19 tracking map shows that 62% of Missoula County’s eligible population -- 64,798 people – afe now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The MCCHD vaccine clinic at the Southgate Mall operates seven days a week and accepts walk-ins and appointments. The clinic offers all three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the FDA-- Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

The Southgate Mall’s schedule is as follows:

  • Mondays – 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tuesdays through Thursdays – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Fridays – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Weekends – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.