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National Guard will help Great Falls hospital with COVID-19 response

Benefis Health System hospital in Great Falls
Posted at 1:29 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 15:29:15-04

GREAT FALLS — Gov. Greg Gianforte has announced that after receiving a formal request from Benefis Health System on Wednesday morning, he is sending 20 Montana National Guardsmen to the Great Falls hospital to support its COVID response.

The governor said in a news release that the Guard members will begin assisting Benefis next weekend, bringing the total number of Guard assisting in the state’s COVID response to 107. The Guardsmen will support staffing with non-medical ICU assistance, environmental services, patient data entry, and COVID testing.

The number of people currently hospitalized in Montana due to COVID is 395, an increase of 18 since Tuesday.

Gianforte announced on Tuesday that he is sending 70 Montana National Guard members to six hospitals to help with their COVID-19 response:

  • 10 to St. Peter's Health in Helena
  • 10 to Billings Clinic (already has 10 Guard members)
  • 6 to St. James Healthcare in Butte
  • 10 to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings
  • 24 to Missoula County
  • 10 to Bozeman Health

The state is working with and anticipates additional formal requests for Guard resources from several other hospitals.

All hospitals have received a COVID response resource guide, which includes step-by-step instructions on how to submit a formal request for Guard resources, according to the news release.

    “While these Guardsmen will help ease the heavy burden our frontline health workers face, the best long-term solution to this crisis is for Montanans to talk with their doctor or pharmacist and get vaccinated," Gov. Gianforte said. "While we will not mandate them, vaccines are safe, they work, and they can save your life. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.”
    Montana Disaster & Emergency Services is assisting hospitals in the process of securing full reimbursements from FEMA for their COVID-19 staffing needs.

      Montana is not the only state deploying National Guard troops to help hospitals - other states include Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Kentucky, and Tennessee.