Missoula hospitals detail coronavirus preparations

Dean French
Posted at 8:49 AM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 10:52:08-04

MISSOULA — Missoula hospital officials say they have the capacity to deal with any surge in coronavirus cases and are making every effort to keep doctors and staff safe.

Those comments came during a Friday joint press conference that provided some of the first details of how the health care centers are coping with the outbreak.

Both Missoula hospitals have canceled elective surgeries, limited access and are conserving personal protection equipment for staff. Community Medical Center, which is licensed for 154 beds, and Saint Patrick Hospital, which is licensed for 254, have both set up special COVID-19 units.

"We have just identified an area of the hospital where we have set aside rooms for respiratory isolation in addition to our normal capacity,” explained CMC CEO Dean French. “That has just expanded our respiratory isolation capabilities by about double what we were prior."

"With the closure of our elective cases, our census today is right around a hundred. So, we have capacity and that's part of our "surge" planning, to be organized enough and ready when patients arrive,” explained Saint Patrick Hospital Chief Executive Joyce Dombrowski.

Infectious disease specialist, Dr. Josh Christensen, says his colleagues across Montana are conferring daily on cases and research.

State heath officials were reporting 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Montana as of Saturday morning, including four in Missoula County.