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As Hospitals Reach 'Breaking Point' Health Care Workers Ask Montanans For Help

Montana Public Affairs Network
Charlotte Skinner, an ER nurse at St. Peter's Health in Helena, talks about some of the challenges front line health care workers are facing during Governor Bullock's COVID-19 press call Oct. 20, 2020.

Health care workers are once again asking Montanans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 as more hospitals become overwhelmed with patients in need of critical care.

St. Peter’s Health in Helena reported all inpatient beds and Intensive Care Units were being used at the start of this week.

Charlotte Skinner, an ER nurse at St. Peter’s Health, said she was speaking on behalf of front line health care workers across the state during the governor’s press call on Oct. 20.

“We need your help Montana. Our hospitals are reaching a breaking point. We are on the brink of seeing a surge capacity like we have never seen before. And make no mistake, this will affect our ability to provide the best possible care,” Skinner said.

Skinner said Montanans can prevent that from happening by being diligent with mask wearing, handwashing, physical distancing and following other public health guidelines.

She said the last eight months have been stressful, challenging and full of uncertainty for all Montanans. But she adds the burden on health care workers has felt especially heavy.

“All of our job stressors are just magnified as we learn to do things like CPR in head to toe PPE, or we learn new methods of putting patients on ventilators while the doctor’s hands are in a plastic box, or as we have to explain to yet another tearful family member, that no, you can’t visit right now, but we’ll hold the phone up for a Facetime call,” Skinner said.

Skinner said health care workers come from a variety of backgrounds, political and religious beliefs, socioeconomic statuses but they’ve always stood on common ground, evidenced based science and a patient first mentality.

“I’m asking you today to stop segregating yourselves into maskers and anti maskers and to stand with us on the common ground of science and evidence, which is clearly telling us that masking works. We must do it consistently, diligently and the majority of us need to participate. But if we can do this, it does make a difference,” Skinner said.