HAMILTON — After weeks at a heightened state of alert for the pandemic, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital begins to restore more services, although there are still full precautions to keep everyone safe.
Starting Thursday, Marcus Daly Hospital said they're carefully beginning to restore full services at the main campus in Hamilton, and the outlying clinics in the Bitterroot Valley. That's following Gov. Steve Bullock's reopening guidelines and recommendations from the Montana Hospital Association.
And Marcus Daly leaders say it's because Ravalli County residents took the outbreak seriously, giving the hospital the "gift" of time.
"That gave the hospital a lot of time to prepare and set up a lot of services very, very quickly to make sure we can service people that may become infected with respiratory illnesses that are new," April Weinberger, the Chief Medical Officer at Marcus Daly, said. "And also be able to service everyone else in a safe way at the same time."
The changes return procedures that may have been postponed.
"We're going back to doing more of our preventative healthcare exams in our clinic settings," Weinberger said. "So that is one change, is that we are doing our full line of services in the outpatient clinics. We also very slowly ramping up our surgical services as well, to be able to provide all those services again. Because we've all been on hold for quite some time and it's actually better for our community for them to be able to access us at this point."
Hospital staff want patients to know that the campus is a safe place. All the proper procedures and protocols will continue to be followed.
The respiratory screening tent remains outside, checking people who may have symptoms, with everyone else screened at the main entrances.
"Everyone who enters the hospital is screened for temperature and symptoms and exposure to COVID," Weinberger said. "We're limiting visitors so there are not as many people around. And everybody is wearing masks to keep people safe, both people that are coming into the clinics and then all the providers that are in clinics and radiology and all the areas of the hospital is masking. So those are the things that are in place.
"You also notice our waiting rooms are different. We moved all the chairs. There's a lot of space between people. We're very much encouraging social distancing. And so all those things are in place to make you safe."
The hospitals Telehealth services have also proven to be a very popular option during the outbreak.